Sermon; Trinity Sunday; Dcn. Sue
Listen, Learn and Act = Go
You may not know this, but Trinity Sunday is typically relegated to the least experienced preacher in the parish. It is a time when most preachers are trying to explain the mystery of 3 in 1. Heresy usually ensues. To be safe from heresy, I’ll defer to my role as a deacon, and preach a good word for the marginalized and social justice in the world.
What a week to be preaching about the marginalized and social justice.
I made a commitment to God a long time ago, but more importantly last year on June 1 during my ordination. Please turn to page 538 in the BCP, to where the candidate for ordination answers the question:
"Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop and other ministers who may have authority over you and your work?"
I answered this question:
“I am willing and ready to do so; and I solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine and discipline, and worship of the The Episcopal Church.”
You and I have been isolated by COVID, seen a black man die in Minnesota on our televisions or news feeds, seen the Episcopal Bishop of Washington DC, Mariann Budde on CNN, NBC, and perhaps heard her on PBS, talk about the bad manners by the President of the United States for not giving her or the Rector or the Senior Warden of St John’s Church, that which is also known as the ‘Presidents Church,’ fair warning he was coming over to visit. To present himself as the one who brings the Word of God to this mess of historic systemic racism in America today.
Please take off your liberal glasses to see a different interpretation of the action by our President. And those of you who may see through conservative lenses, please remove those too. Let’s imagine we are 100 years from today. Let’s see the same picture of the President holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Lafayette, with no caption.
I’ve seen this on FB where you get to add a caption to a picture. My caption says, “This is the President who turned the United States upside down by tackling systemic racism.” Why would I say such a thing? Because I think it will be true.
We are on a precipice or a tipping point when pretty much all of us know something is wrong. We are finger pointing, we are angry, we are ashamed, we are so many hurtful emotions than I can say. So let’s see how I move this into Sunday’s Gospel. All week I’ve been saying to myself: "Pause and take a breath."
Jesus came down the mountain and the disciples worshipped him and some doubted. Some don’t get it, some do, but regardless of the amount of faith they possess, he sends them not to Israel, but to the whole world, all the nations, to make them disciples. In the Gospel of Matthew, this last section has been called a culmination or the summary of the entire text. Because, even with his Great Commission, some just don’t get it. God works with all of us, we may not agree on anything or somethings or believe strongly or only a little, God is still present in us to be the light for all nations. The disciples spent time listening, learning and now are commanded to act in going to all the world,
Jesus spoke in many parables about the Kingdom of God. They listened. He gave them teachings. They learned. Now he wants them to make disciples. Jesus says to baptize them with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the undivided Trinity.
Listen. Learn. Act. Go out
Go and make disciples of everyone. Your enemy, your non speaking Arabic neighbor, your boss, your fill in the blank. This is the Gospel for everyone. But in order to make a disciple of a stranger, it is not through thumping the bible or the prayer book, but to listen. Listen to the story; listen to another person’s desire to trust you to hear their story. See Christ in all people, the stranger. Listen to God in moments of quiet prayer or meditation. Listen to the scriptures and the teachings of the Episcopal Church. Listen without the liberal or conservative perspectives. Instead, listen with compassion, mercy and forgiveness. Listen, as the disciples did. Listening is the first step out of systemic racism. Hear the stories.
The second step out of systemic racism, is to learn more about what you might think you know. Learn how white skinned people have historically, and systematically unfairly treated people of color.
Read the New Jim Crow, and other books. I have a list. See where the red-lining is in Hagerstown. If you do not know what red-lining means, send me a message. When our eyes are opened and we understand our white 400 year history on this land, we will know how the settlers brought slaves to develop it for their own wealth. Just as the disciples witnessed Jesus’ healing power of the marginalized and broken, we, too are in the process of healing as we learn about our history. In today’s scripture with healing learned, Jesus commands us to act, to go and to make disciples.
Act by going with God, who breathed all of us into existence. Act by going to the march today from the fairgrounds. Act by going and standing for everyone’s freedom. Act, through listening and learning. Go with the Holy Spirit guiding us to a place of reconciliation. Go and with a pause, to take a breath, the ruach of God.
Because systemic racism is a huge problem. But the undivided Triune God of creation, redemption and salvation, is with us to the end of the age. If we take a breath, Listen, Learn and Act by going out to make disciples, we will begin what God has started in us, reconciling us to the Divine self, and to one another, helping God to usher in the Kingdom here and not yet.