Saturday, June 27, 2015

What will it take to calm these waters?


Continuing our series on Life in the Spirit: Stormy waters, the question today is
What will it take to calm these waters?

We open the service with Every time I feel the Spirit and follow with Tu has venido a la orilla. ( And our Psalm is 133, or Hinay ma tov umanyaim, chevet achim gan yachad

After reading mark 4: 35-41,
Jeremy and I do the song made famous by John McCutchen, Alleluia, the great storm is over. ()

And then it is time for reflection.
What will it take to calm these waters? Let me begin like this:

Clementa Pinckney, 41. Pastor, father of 2, state senator
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, reverend, track coach, mother of 3
Cynthia Hurd, 54, librarian and wife
DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, mother of 4, church choir member
Tywanza Sanders, 26, recent graduate of Allen College with a degree in business
Myra Thompson,. 54, mother and wife
Ethel Lee Lance, 70, mother, grandmother,church sexton for over 30 years
Daniel L. Simmons, retired pastor and father
Susie Jackson, 87, mother and grandmother

Each a name. Each a person. Someone who loved and was loved.

Our friend Osagyefo Sekou had this to say on Facebook:

The shooter is not a ‘loner’, but part of a system of white supremacy. To reduce this act to that of a troubled individual is to commit another act of violence." 

Dear America: If the #‎CharlestonShooting is not terrorism, then I am white.

Dear God: They kill us in your house.

And our friend Sarah Zapiler, this:

 White people:

Let's come together and decide on a set of actions we will take to dismantle racism in our own lives. Let's share resources and energy that will make us stronger. We will be responsible to hold each other accountable to in the months to come. 

Bring your hope for a new kind of world. Invite anyone. Today while we are worshipping, people are invited to Sarah's house to wrestle with that issue. Let our thoughts and prayers be with them.

Most amazing of all were these words from survivors:
You took something really precious from me. I will never talk to her again,” the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, one of nine people killed in Wednesday's massacre, said. “But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you. I forgive you.
Felecia Sanders, mother of the youngest victim, 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders, also spoke. Every fiber in my body hurts, Sanders said, and I will never be the same.
Sanders survived the shooting by playing dead.
We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know, she said in court. As we said in the Bible study, we enjoyed you, but may God have mercy on you.
I chose theme before this shooting…..but when I went to do my preparation, I open Ched Myers’ commentary on this passage, and lo and behold I find this…The Kingdom as Reconciliation…
So let’s look at the passage again. Jesus says, Let us go across... sounds simple enough, but…what does it mean? Across means to the other side, to the gentile side of the lake..the unknown, the foreign, the other side of humanity…
A storm comes up, the disciples see Jesus asleep, he wakes, quiets the sea…by referring to the lake as sea, Mark is connecting with a long Biblical tradition where sea connotes: chaos, threat, danger…
Let me make that clear….by entering into a journey to the other side, a journey intended to lead to reconciliation, the disciples will enter a world of chaos, threat and danger…to do the work necessary to dismantle the structures that support and sustain racism and gun violence, we will have to enter into uncharted territory, unfamiliar, even scary territory. Especially to face that which still lives inside, and I do believe this is true….still inside each of us…
It’s not enough to call, as our denomination did, for an arresting of hate…and self-examination…until we confront the structures that support and sustain, there will be no real change…
 And to be sure, to quote Meyer again, All the power of the established symbolic universe of segregation opposes this journey….
We confront two powers here…one of gun violence, the other white privilege…it’s too easy to speak of lone crazy gun man…when we have a culture that supplies the ethos and language of hatred and easy access to weapons to enact that hatred. And no, NRA, the answer is NOT having everyone come to church armed…
But what calms the storm?
“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” For we who seek to bear the name Christian, seeking to follow a path, we seek to make ourselves one with the one who silences the forces of chaos and danger.
I think again of the words of the Charleston AME folk…make no mistake about it, those words of forgiveness are more than anything for their own sake, that is, the only way they can hold on against this chaos, the only way they can survive such a loss, is by staying true to who they are called to be at the deepest level.
 (Like the Amish several years ago..2006…Do we remember that  was the third school shooting in the United States in less than a week, the others being the Platte Canyon High School shooting on September 27, 2006 and Weston High School shooting on September 29. That was the 24th school shooting in the United States in 2006, according to the National School Safety and Security Services]

What will it take to calm these waters?
What does the one say who even the wind and sea obey?
Let us cross over to the other side….Amen

Andre sings for us Just as I am.
We sing my own Rest Awhile for our offertory. (
And finally finish the service with Somos el barco.  Remembering Ronnie Gilbert , an original member of the Weavers and the super folk group HARP, (Hollie Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert and Pete Seeger..)
We gather for Amen. And that is our service.

35On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

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