Thursday, November 10, 2016

Release to the captives and freedom for the oppresssed

November 10, in response to the Trump election

This morning I’m writing in gratitude for the community we share, and in hope for our God who works wonders. Last night we gathered for Eucharist in the choir, about twenty of us, praying for the vulnerable and the afraid, reminding ourselves of God’s great providence and grace. The gospel text I chose for the day was of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry as told in the Gospel of Luke:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Jesus announces that that prophecy is fulfilled in him, that as the people gather there they are seeing the good news brought to the poor and release proclaimed to captives.The oppressed are free and the blind are given sight. Jesus goes on to do those things—healing, saving, transforming. The love of God in his life was so strong, so brave, that nothing could stop it, not even death.

Hearing those words, we remembered together that the mission of the church is that same mission. Like Jesus, we occupy the place between the truth of God’s power and love and the truth of our broken and fragile world. In God’s dream of transcendent peace, Muslim women aren’t afraid to wear their veils while walking down the street. Immigrant kids don’t worry that their parents will get deported. LGBTQ people don’t worry their marriages will be dissolved. White supremacists don’t get air time next to legitimate political actors. We rest in that dream, at the same time as we live in a world where all of those things happen. One particular heartbreak and inspiration yesterday was reading the letter superintendent Echelson sent to faculty and staff of Waltham schools. Immigrant students are wondering if they should drop out of school, he said, to start making much money as they can, worried they’ll get deported. Arabic speakers are afraid for their safety. Echelson wrote, “Our students, particularly those students who might not feel safe right now because of their immigration status, perceived religion or any other variable, need us to show up for them.”

This is the transcendent, im/possible place: the place of the cross before the resurrection. The love of God is already showing up on the cross. The love of God is with the gay kid getting beat up and the woman being sexually assaulted. The love of God is incarnate in the mosque on Moody Street, at Temple Beth Israel, at St Mary’s and Sacred Heart. The love of God is showing up in Chaplains on the Way, at AA, at the Community Day Center. The love of God has always been there and will continue to be there. There are places where it hasn’t yet been born, but it is there. Our task as people of faith is to be midwives, to stand in support and accompany God’s love into the world.

We can do this: to bring that love to the desolate places, to have the courage to speak love to the dark abyss. To show up. That is our mission no matter who is president, no matter what prejudice seems to become acceptable. That is our mission, too, to those who disagree, to whom we are still bound in faith and love, who no less need the gift of God’s love.


(P.S. My sermon from last night is on soundcloud.)