Love wins: Charlottesville, VA

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28    Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b      Romans 10:5-15

Matthew 14:22-33

 

 

Oh, how Joseph’s brothers hated that tattletale, the younger, “favorite” brother, who flaunted a fine coat and a dream about power over his siblings. Jealousy and hatred are powerful motivators, and it is through such a call to action that Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill him.

 

Their approach softened a bit and they threw Joseph into a pit, most likely a dry cistern, where his almost-certain death would come more slowly. The brothers’ response to their own act of hatred was to sit nearby and eat.

 

Hatred ignores facts: they were kin, brothers!

Hatred ignores humanity: how can you feast while letting your brother die?

 

We might say that at least life won, not in a generous way, but because the brothers instead sold Joseph into slavery for a few bits of silver.

 

In fact, Joseph’s dream did come true, and Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him. Eventually, however, forgiveness and healing happened. Oh, how long it took to see the presence of God in this family!

 

The psalmist tells the story … and also reminds us that a great many things happened – plague after plague, famines, hardened hearts …

Before there was food and water and the fulfillment of God’s promise of abundance.

 

Sometimes it takes a long time for us to be able to say, along with the psalmist: “Praise the Lord!”

 

We still wait, most days, to see the face of God.

 

Today is no exception to our waiting …

In Charlottesville, VA this weekend

Hatred is ignoring facts, humanity, and threatens to obscure the face of God.

A torch-bearing protester claimed that: “We’re honoring the founding fathers who were white.”

Only…

The founding fathers and mothers and families and children in this country were not white at all; they were of darker skin and an ancient history.

Hatred hates facts.

 

We are all created in God’s image, and simple children’s song says it well: “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Yes, Jesus loves the little children – all of us.

Hatred ignores humanity.

 

God, however, is not so easily obscured, and although you may be seeing pictures of a horrific act of hatred, there were others at the protest marching for peace. An assortment of clergy and lay people, Episcopalians included, marched arm and arm, side by side, proclaiming that “hate has no home here.”

And singing “this little light of mine.”

 

What a powerful light it is, the light that faces hatred

While Episcopalians and other counter protesters stayed in the church throughout the night – urged to do so for their own safety – in

In order to proclaim peace.

In order to live into the fact that Love wins.

 

Love wins in the face of hatred. Love wins in the face of violence. Love wins in the face of all that is evil in this world.

It sounds rather trite, doesn’t it? I saw, on video, the person fly over the car in Charlottesville, hit by the speeding car; I saw the empty shoes on the street; I heard the screams of the people: “we need a medic!”

And I saw hope in those same streets: people running toward the perpetrator, chasing down hatred on foot; people kneeling to help the injured, the screams that said “we need a medic!” were reaching out for kin, for humanity. Love was there in the darkness.

 

The mayor of Charlottesville said yesterday that “this day will not define us.” My friends, we are not defined by yesterday, either. We Christians are defined by a day

And it is not a day of darkness, but of resurrection and life.

 

Our day of definition is the day on which Christ destroyed death by his own death, by the empty tomb on Easter Day – that is the day that defines us,

Not yesterday in Charlottesville

Or any of the other days on which hatred shows its callous, violent face. Those days do not define us. God who created us and is still creating, who gives us life, is the one who defines our lives. God’s light will not be overcome by darkness. God’s light will not be overcome by citronella-filled tiki torches marching … anywhere. God’s light will not be overcome by cowards who promote their own false lights.

 

What do we have to do to get this kind of God in our lives – in a single day of our lives?

Maybe, like Peter, we have to go ahead and walk right into the storm, to step out of what we think is keeping us safe (because it really isn’t).

 

It is “usual” to pick on Peter a little bit here, to say that Peter began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus – ever heard that? I’ve probably preached it!

Today, that won’t work for me.

Because of Charlottesville.

Because of a woman who was so ashamed of her sins that she could not get out of bed for three days.

Because of many other days – and moments – that look like Charlottesville in our eyes, in our hearts, in our screams, aloud and silent, for mercy to come, for true light to shine. In brokenness so deep that we do not begin to know how to heal it.

 

Like Peter, we need to get out of the boat. We need to face the storm, knowing – or not knowing and acting anyway – and

reach out our hand. And our voices …

and say, “Lord, Jesus, save me!”

And it is done. The saving has once again begun. God is faithful. God is constant. God keeps God’s promises and God promised that we have abundant life in Jesus Christ.

 

Lord Jesus, save me!

Lord Jesus, save us!

 

Today I need to know that we haven’t failed when we feel like we’re sinking. We haven’t failed when we despair over hatred shouted in the streets with cowardly torches and remembrances of a history that didn’t exist and the powerlessness – yes, powerlessness – of the ones walking in hatred in the streets. I need to know that God, Jesus, will reach out the hand of Love

And save me.

 

Because our days are not defined by yesterday, or by hatred, or by sin.

 

Our days are defined by love.

 

This is a love so strong that both Jews and Gentiles could become Christians.

 

Imagine that.

 

Even a Gentile could become a Christian! That is the dispute in the letter of Romans – that we who never became Jewish, who might have worshipped any number of little “g” gods (some of those still lurk in our lives but that’s another story) –

Even we might be saved by the power of Jesus the Christ. Love wins.

 

Winn Collier, writing from Charlottesville, VA talked about the love this way:

 

“I am talking about a love that would stand with the oppressed while weeping for the oppressor. I am talking about a love that knows deep in the bones that if we don’t get to redemption together, then it isn’t redemption. I am talking about a love that sees in every single human a beloved sister or brother, a child, a parent, one who is more than their actions or ideologies, more than their fears.”

 

Stand with the oppressed. Weep for the oppressor. Pray for our enemies. Give thanks in all things. Get out of the boat and reach out to Jesus.

 

A beloved bishop wrote about an appropriate response to the hatred expressed in Charlottesville yesterday, to the hatred found in many yesterdays: “my bruised soul will seek healing at a different demonstration; a demonstration of love, hope and unity found at the altar, of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

 

Come protest with me today. Bring your bruised soul and demonstrate love, hope and unity at the altar, in the Eucharist,

 

In the very body of Love itself.

 

Hate has no home here.

 

Love, through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the Holy Spirit, wins.

 

So come. Take Eat.

 

Save us, Lord Jesus. Have mercy, Lord, have mercy.

 

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