A sermon response to the current US administration's separating families who present themselves for asylum in the United States.
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher, Virtual Chaplain, Sunshine Cathedral
(click the link below for audio of this text)
When I was newly sober and trying to figure out how to live without alcohol as a crutch I was often crippled by resentment and anger. Often my anger was misplaced but sometimes what enflamed my anger was legitimate but no less deadly to someone newly sober. So I went in search of what to do with my anger so that it did not drive me back to emotional medication with alcohol.
I asked every wise old sponsor type I could possibly find. They all had the same unexpected advise, “Pray for the person who fills your heart with hate.” I was convinced by people far wiser than I am that I could not pray sincerely for someone over time and continue to feel intense anger toward them. I’ve tried it. It works.
And that brings me to the news of the week. As you who were here last week know, I am pretty much OUT of my MIND about what the current US government is doing to families who present themselves for asylum in the US. This week the news of 4000 children warehoused in a Walmart. A tent city growing up out of the desert, a concentration camp with no air conditioning or running water where even more children can be “stored.”
THIS is how it starts. Some families are torn apart. Dads sent to one camp, moms to another, small children to another, and older children to gender specific camps. While American evangelical “so-called” Christians condone the policy and the Bible is used to justify the hideous practice of destroying families and setting children on a lifetime journey to recover from PTSD. Religion’s most useful purpose is to control people, convince them that the Empire is smarter than we are, and warning us to obey the law or God will get us.
So it seems a weird irony that our theme for this week’s service is Trust in God. Really? Just relax because God’s got this? Wait what? No that’s not how it works. Trusting God means trusting our own inner voice, listening to the Holy Spirit, and getting off our hands to speak out and demonstrate, and vote and do all of the things that is incumbent upon US to do!
Trusting God does not mean doing nothing. Trusting God means doing SOMETHING, anything.. to fight against apathy, hopelessness, and garden variety evil. See it’s easy to look at a murderer and know that we need to limit what that person can do to other people. But when a government uses propaganda, lies and mis interpretations of Biblical texts to manipulate people we have to recognize that this is no accident.
A clergy friend of mine put a sentence on Twitter this week that stopped me cold in my tracks. Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey, CEO of the Religious Institute said, “There is no sacred text more holy that a single human life.” Amen my sister. Amen. Propaganda is designed to confuse and sow suspicion. It is designed to make us doubt ourselves. So it’s important to break things down to the absolute basics.
So here’s what Jesus said about the law in Mark 12: 28-31 “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Trusting God means loving our neighbor. Trusting God means welcoming the stranger. Trusting God means caring for those who are oppressed not adding to those who are already suffering. And trusting God means taking care of children. Period. As my friend Marie said, “There is no sacred text more holy that a single human life.”
The great poet Judy Chicago expressed our responsibility and the power we possess in a work called the Merger Poem.
And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another's will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth's abundance
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life's creatures
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again
It’s important that we DO something. I don’t know what you’re called to do. I’m sometimes not really clear on what I’m called to do! But I know that doing nothing is giving in to injustice and evil. Doing nothing is being complicit in the injustice and oppression. Saying nothing is silent agreement. Not acting is an action. How will we show our trust in God?
Let us pray ... I will trust in you, God. Your grace is sufficient. With you, all things are possible. Amen.