Like so many churches these days, mine’s been on Zoom and Facebook Live for months. The VIDEO below shows a sermon I preached, online, in mid-June, focusing on three phrases to stop saying as we attempt to fight back against racism in the U.S. The three are in the text box to the left. As I have said over and over, Americans would rather talk about anything but race—anything—and these are perhaps the big three avoidance phrases of the many we use. Some are hostile, and profane, and ultra racist, but these three sound “noble.” I based most of this sermon on comments I made at the Laity Convocation of the United Methodist Church (Northern Illinois Conference) on February 8, 2020, weeks before the pandemic shut us down (or in), weeks before the murder of George Floyd. I’ve detailed them in “Unpacking Racism: “Noble” Sentiments That Keep Us From Talking About Race.”
The scripture for this sermon is Luke 6:32-33, Jesus’ conclusion to his announcing the “Golden Rule” and issuing three of his hardest challenges, which he links to that Rule: Love your enemies; Be kind to those who mistreat you; Turn the other cheek. One of these days I’ll explore that linkage, but this morning—though I said this was no time for sound bites—all I had time for were sound bites! So I focused on what Luke 6:32-33 implied about embracing our differences. We love to talk about “embracing our common humanity,” but that’s one of those feel-good things to say that usually doesn’t lead anywhere, largely because it’s practically impossible to do without first accepting our differences.
My 9-year-old grand daughter Grace makes a quick appearance. I’ve been saying a lot lately that IF we work hard to fight racism, we may see a less racist U.S. in 40 to 100 years. Afterwards, several people stayed on line to talk about what I had said. Gene Paquette, husband of the woman who read the scripture (she goes by “Muffy”) said that it was hard to hear that timeline: 40 to 100 years. I always capitalize and bold that IF. In “Walmart, Pence, and Politics As Usual” I commented on what so far is not a lot to show, policy-wise, for all the protests we’ve had. Even IF we manage to start seeing a significant turnaround in the shortest time I’ve envisioned, 40 years, Grace will be nearly 50. I won’t see it, but hoping she and other young grand kids do, that should keep all of us working hard.