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The Call to Worship
The heavens are telling the glory of God!
All: Day to day and night to night, unending is their silent speech of beauty and wonder. How shall we join their joyful witness?
With words that proclaim God's inclusive love,
All: With words that proclaim God's inclusive love, with works that bring forth God's powerful justice, with worship that rejoices in God's wondrous presence, now and always. Amen!
Gathered in this sacred space, O Creator Spirit,
in the multicolored company of Your Church on earth and in heaven,
We celebrate Your creation and invite Your presence into our midst.
We know, Creator Spirit, that eternity cannot hold You,
Nor can our little words describe the breadth of Your faithfulness to us.
Yet in the space of our small heart and in silence,
Come close and repair us. Amen
The Wisdom of Charles Dickens
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
The Wisdom of Stephen Fry
“At least 260 species of animals have been noted exhibiting homosexual behavior but only one species of animal ever, so far as we know, has exhibited homophobic behavior — and that’s the human being.”
A large crowd followed Jesus and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32He looked all around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
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“The Arc of the Moral Universe”
What an amazing, incredible week. What a roller coaster of emotions. From our grief and pain on last Sunday as we mourned together the Charleston Massacre of nine good and decent people at a bible study at Mother Emanuel AME on Wednesday to the dizzying ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States on Friday making equal marriage legal throughout the United States by declaring that state bans on equal marriage is unconstitutional. And just for good measure more good news in the middle on the Affordable Care Act that will keep millions insured and laws that forbid discrimination in housing upheld. What a week.
From tears of mourning to tears of joy; from shouts of hallelujah in the morning to the sobs of family and friends at Friday afternoon’s funeral for the Hon. Rev. Clementa Pickney. This is real life folks. Pain mingled with joy. Elation mingled with grief. And the good news is… we felt it all. We experienced it all. We participated in all of it. Our hearts were opened. Our eyes were opened. Tongues of lifelong defenders of a flag that reminds many of slavery and segregation were loosed to speak justice in calling for its removal from the grounds of the South Carolina state house. Friends it was a historic week!
Like the woman in our story from the gospel according to Mark we have been healed by our faith in God and creation. We are on the road to recovery from hundreds of years of slavery, exploitation, and oppression in our society. But there is so much more work to do.
As President Barack Obama said yesterday, “For too long, we've been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present. Perhaps we see that now. Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career.
Perhaps it causes us to examine what we're doing to cause some of our children to hate. Perhaps it softens hearts towards those lost young men, tens and tens of thousands caught up in the criminal justice system and leads us to make sure that that system is not infected with bias; that we embrace changes in how we train and equip our police so that the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve make us all safer and more secure.
Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us even when we don't realize it, so that we're guarding against not just racial slurs, but we're also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal. So that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote. By recognizing our common humanity by treating every child as important, regardless of the color of their skin or the station into which they were born, and to do what's necessary to make opportunity real for every American -- by doing that, we express God's grace.”
For those of us who have opportunity and privilege it is our duty to work on behalf of those who are oppressed by the very privilege we call “God’s blessings” on our lives. Food, clothing, shelter, education, access to healthcare and someone in our lives to help us believe that we can do anything. That is what many of us experience and that is precisely what we need to work for so that all children, all people, have these same basic needs met.
In our story from the gospel according to Mark the woman who came into the crowd just to touch the hem of Jesus garment was desperate. She had done everything she knew to do. She had spent all of her money of cures. She was willing and she had tried everything. But she believed that God’s grace could flow through the body of the man Jesus and make her whole. She believed that touching Jesus would make her body beautiful and healthy and clean again.
It is time in the history of humanity that we each do our best to ensure the every child on earth has these basic needs met…. Food, clothing, shelter, education, access to healthcare, and someone in their lives to instill in them the belief that they can achieve anything they set their minds to, someone to teach them that God’s grace flows to those who appear to us to merit it and to those we think do not merit it because grace does not fall upon only the rich or the privileged… it is for us all… black, white, brown, yellow, red, LGBTQI, heterosexual, from every nation and land on earth. It comes to us all equally.
Therefore it is our task to pray and work toward repairing the hope of the world so that everyone has opportunity and hope. It is our duty as people of privilege to work on behalf of others. This is not easy. It will not be a short journey to justice and it will not be easy to attain but it is what we are called to work for to bring about the realm of God on earth.
The way we remember those who have gone on the glory before us is to carry on their work, carry on their love and kindness, carry on the grace that they received in their lifetime. We call to mind especially today the Charleston nine and all those who grieve. We call to mind those who risked everything in the Stonewall riots and the many thousands who have been killed for the color of their skin, their gender identity, or who they love. We remember by working for justice. We receive the grace God bestows so freely upon us by working to bring God’s realm of justice love into focus for everyone.
As the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” May we work to bend that arc toward justice in this place and all around the world today. Amen.