God-Carriers All

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Pentecost 26C – God-Carriers All

November 13, 2016

Luke 21 : 5-19

 

Goodness is stronger than evil;

Love is stronger than hate;

Light is stronger than darkness;

Life is stronger than death;

Victory is ours through Him who loves us.

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote the words we just sang

at the height of apartheid in South Africa.

 

In a later interview Tutu went on to say,

“I … used to say if these white people had intended keeping us under

they shouldn’t have given us the Bible.

Because, whoa, I mean, it’s almost as if it is written specifically just for …. us…”

 

…Apartheid sought to mislead people into believing

that what gave value to human beings was …

skin color or ethnicity,

and … the scriptures say it is because

we are created in the image of God, that each one of us is a God-carrier.”[i]

 

Each one of us is a God carrier.

 

There are many who are hurting this week.

 

Some are afraid that the rhetoric of the election will lead to policies

that will attempt to diminish their personhood or rights as Americans.

Those in the LGBT community, persons of color, women, Muslims, and others

Need to know that

We will not stand for such policies…

For you are a God-carrier.

Love is stronger than hate.

 

There are others being demonized this week.

It took most of us by surprise that there is a whole segment of our population

Who have been left behind in our economy;

Who have lost jobs;

Who have felt ridiculed because of their education.

Before we bash them or bully them or berate them for their vote,

We need to stop and listen…because it’s clear they have been hurting a long time

and we didn’t know it.

We hadn’t paid attention.

We hadn’t listened.

We commit ourselves to listening more.

You are a God-carrier.

 

The gospel text we heard today

Was meant for such challenging times.

 

Luke describes the destruction of the temple.

Of course by the time he writes these words,

the temple has already been destroyed.

Luke’s gospel is dated to about the year 85 AD…

about 15 years after the temple has fallen.

 

For Luke’s readers, what Jesus says in this passage

Is more a reflection on what has happened

Than a prediction of them.[ii]

It’s reflection about where God is in the midst

of such challenging and even disastrous times.

 

Luke uses imagery and language that is typical for literature of the time called “apocalyptic” literature.

This type of writing is meant to bring hope to people

Living in the midst of disaster.

 

Jesus reminds his followers that terrible things happen –

As they have in every age –

There will be false prophets, wars, natural disasters –

The world may seem on the verge of collapse….

 

But when that happens (as it has happened over and over again throughout human history),

Do not be afraid – “do not be terrified,” Jesus says.

Rather, trust that God will continue to be present in our lives.

Goodness is stronger than evil.

 

This is not the time to place blame on a particular person

or a particular group of people.[iii]

And it’s also not the time to sit quietly by.

Instead, Jesus says, this is an opportunity to speak out… to testify.

 

For some it feels that we are in the midst of an “apocalypse.”

What do we do?

From the gospel of Luke:

Trust God and use it as an opportunity to testify.

Light is stronger than darkness.

 

I’ve heard about some powerful testimony this week….

Locally at TC Williams High School,

did you know that students made banners

in support of groups of people that are frightened that policies may change?

The banners say,

“We are Americans.”

“We are Latino.”

“We are women.”

“We are LGBTQ.”

“We are black.”

“We are disabled.”

“We are Muslim.”

“We are resilient.”

“We are Titans.”

This is an opportunity to testify.

 

 

A street artist in New York City,

Brought post-it notes and pens to a subway station.[iv]

People were encouraged to share their feelings

(it was called ‘subway therapy’).

They wrote things like::

“Hope”; and

“America, thank you for always accepting me.”

The artist says that many people see the wall of the underground covered with post-it notes,

And just start breaking down crying,

And when that happen, people (in a NYC subway station) give them hugs.

 

This is an opportunity to testify…

Light is stronger than darkness.

 

And then there are those wearing safety pins.

Safety pins have come to mean solidarity

With groups who have experienced hate-filled actions.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that as of Friday evening,

There have over 200 reports of  harassment and intimidation.

But there are more than that – far more.

 

A pastor at Commonwealth Baptist Church, just a couple blocks from here

Said that a member of her church was picking up photos

of her multiracial family,

And the store clerk said,

“I can’t wait until I won’t have to serve people like you..”

 

Now we know that that will not happen – we will not allow it.

But as a church we are called to be in solidarity

With the poor and marginalized who are being threatened.

Some are wearing safety pins

As a symbol of support to those who may be afraid.

 

The banners, post-it notes, and safety pins

Can be powerful symbols.

But our testimony goes even farther than that.

Testimony leads to action:

Action on behalf of the poor and marginalized.

Action against racism and xenophobia.

Action on behalf of those who have lost jobs because factories have been shut down.

 

Jesus concludes this passage saying that sometimes such action

Leads to division among families and friends and even jail.

But, he says, stay strong, be faithful…

Endure for God is with you.

 

Desmond Tutu says he told his parishioners over and over again:

Never forget:

You are a God-carrier, created in the image of God.

You are God’s partner.

Testify to the truth.

 

Goodness is stronger than evil;

Love is stronger than hate;

Light is stronger than darkness;

Life is stronger than death;

Victory is ours through Him who loves us.

 

Amen.

[i] http://www.onbeing.org/program/desmond-tutu039s-god-surprises/transcript/1405

[ii] http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3059

[iii] http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3059

[iv] http://www.nytimes.com/video/nyregion/100000004762238/subway-sticky-notes-offer-post-election-therapy.html

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