The following blog post is a sermon
delivered May 29, 2016 at Tapestry Ministries, Disciples of Christ.
“Holding Space: The
Journey Ahead, Conversations of the Heart”
It is the heart that speaks of the journey
ahead. It is the mind that will make the
this in the light of a Holy God.
on the present state of socio-cultural affairs
I recently attended a graduation
party for one of the members of First Christian Church of Oakland. It was attended by at least 90 plus people (I
know because the member had each of us count off). It was a good experience with a welcoming
attitude. Good food, good people, a
great time!! In the midst of the food
and the people someone asked the member what were their next steps. What does
the future look like? Remembering my many graduations and retirement from the
Navy I found that to be a question full of queries with somewhat of an
uneasiness to say the least. Yet for all
of the unease of the question, the question still remains. What does the future hold more so “What does
the journey Ahead hold?” I find that the
journey ahead emerges out of a reflection on the present. That is, as I critically reflect on the
present state of affairs my heart eventually reveals to me the path up ahead,
where I am called to go.
Now as a person of faith I am thankful
that I don’t take this journey alone. I
am thankful that God is on the mountain top, in the plains, and in the valley
with me, and with us, as each of us troubles the waters in preparation for the
Kingdom of God. That said, the times we
are living through with their social, cultural and economic upheavals have
caused hatred and bigotry, the defects of our beloved nation, to strike fear in
the hearts of many people here at home and in the world at large. The rise of social media such as Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram, and even Google to name a few have become more and more a
means to encapsulate, expose and engender these defects now manifested in the
rhetoric of political candidates for President of the United States.
It is important to understand the
response of the spirit of enslavement and oppression to the spirit of hope and
liberation. To see this present
circumstance as somewhat of a crescendo or culmination of two important
conversations of the heart reminiscent of Matthew 4:1-11, the temptation of
Jesus. The temptation of Jesus is the
comprehensive and in-depth discourse regarding human reality in its
relationship with God, others and the cosmos. The engagement between the devil
and Jesus is the preeminent example of what many people encounter in daily life. It is true that those who blame the other,
who focus their frustrations on those on the margins, are bound to a narrative of enslavement and oppression, a narrative rooted in the devil's argument, as
a means to power whether real or imagined. Their hearts hardened by this narrative they
have been blinded to the glory, mercy and grace of God while those who embrace
hope and liberation are no longer bound to such a narrative but live in the
glory and mercy of a soon coming King.
I suppose the message today is a
call to conscience, a call to live out our liberation in Christ Jesus. It is a call to be real in the face of
manifest hatred, bigotry, even ignorance paraded as the Gospel knowing that the Spirit
of the living God is with us. Beloved we
move as our hearts are called by God to move.
It is not our bodies that move us but our hearts in concert with the
desires of God and in this there is truth.
No lie will stand; no idolatry will last except the resurrection of the
Christ. In the midst of manifest
injustice perpetrated upon those of us on the margins because of race, gender, sex,
creed, relationship or political persuasion through systemic oppression and
brutality the reality is that life and all of creation emerges from the
liberative imagination of God. And hence
the Cross, even the resurrection is seen in that light, this even by the
oppressors as they more and more seek to deny or mute the Gospel of liberation
and inclusion, the expressed desire of God through HB2, popularly known as the
History has shown that unjust,
oppressive regimes eventually fall in the face of God’s desire for a liberated
people. This has been the narrative
throughout recorded history. Whether
through marching in the streets, gaining political influence, or living an
authentic life in Jesus Christ eventually liberation wins out for all. As Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the
United States said in her speech regarding the North Carolina Bathroom Bill
(HB2) reminiscent of the speeches of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, you are on
the right side of history. Yes, we are
on the right side of history as we stand on the shoulders of those who have
But if I say, “I will not make
mention of Him nor speak any more in His name,” then His word was in my
heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I was weary of forbearing
it, and I could not endure it. For I heard the defaming of
many, “Terror on every side! Denounce him. Yes, denounce him!” All my familiar friends who watch for my fall, say, “Perhaps he will be
enticed so that we can prevail against him, and we will take our revenge
on him.”But the Lord is with me as a dread mighty One.
Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be
greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting shame will never
be forgotten. Jeremiah 20:9-11 (MEV)
There is a fire shut in my bones
that will not let me rest. No matter
which way I turn it won’t let me rest.
This fire, this blaze will only be quenched by the joy of God’s liberation. The spirit says there is work to be done,
people to liberate, to set the captives free.
A prophetic movement is a move
which emerges from the heart. It is an all-consuming
fire and nothing and no person can or will quench its longing, its desire except
that it proves its call from a Holy and Sacred God. This is found in the Old and New Testament
texts. It is found in the life and the martyrdom
of the freedom riders of the Civil Rights Movement, it is found in Rev. Dr.
Martin Luther King. The prophetic
movement is courageous, a movement of heart and soul that will burn away the
unclean things, the things unworthy of the message embodied.
I suspect that the road will not be
easy. The road will be full of vipers,
vultures, small things that creep in the night.
Yet that joy which burns in our hearts will keep us, will hold us in the
midst of these things as we move as God has called, as God has ordained. We move because God has called us to move, to
change, to transform our world and its situation. Like Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel we move for God occupies our heart. We are consumed by the
passion of God within.