Several of you asked for a copy of Suzanne's message last week...
Last week, Father Zach asked me to give the message today. I thought I would likely be talking about baptism. Instead, with recent events, I am talking about what we, the baptized, are called to do.
I listened to Presiding Bishop Curry’s prayers on the day the capitol was desecrated & his message, on Friday. I won’t repeat his message, but I’ll tell you it was inspiring, & well delivered as only he can do. It is worth watching. The link on the newsletter didn’t work for me but I found it by googling “Who shall we be?” I also read Hawaii Bishop Bob’s message which intrigued me.
These are the things I came away with:
“Who shall we be?” asks Rev. Curry; as a nation & as individuals if we want to pull our nation out of this current state of division and violence. Dr. King labored & prayed & often spoke of the beloved community. Jesus taught us to pray and to labor for the kingdom of God on earth, in our time and in our world. Jesus taught us to pray to the Father:
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus is not referring to the future or after we die. Jesus’s life shows us God’s kingdom of peace and love can be here, now. It may sound naïve and unrealistic but that unselfish love, the love that Jesus taught,
Love your God with your whole heart and soul, love your neighbor as yourself.
that is the love that we, the baptized, are called to bring to our communities now, today. Without a focus on ushering in the beloved community, we have chaos in our country where people who are peace officers kill undefended non-white citizens, a county where Neo nazi march, a country where our own laws are not kept by those in highest power.
Without a personal focus on showing God’s love, people use whatever power they possess to push others down, judging their neighbors as inferior in a sad attempt to make themselves feel better. As Bishop Bob said, the violence we saw Wednesday was not unexpected. Words of hate, suspicion and violence are prevalent in our media. These self-destructive thoughts were amplified, fed back to people hungry for validation, from the highest leader in the country, hungry himself for self-aggrandizement, so wrapped in himself as seeming not care that he incites further division and violence. Words have power. From our Genesis reading today, God spoke and creation happened.
With recent events, it is easy to point the finger at another person, another party, a different group and say there lies the problem.
What do we as the baptized do? For starters, let’s watch our words for we just saw how powerful words can be. How do we refer to others? Do we make generalities about folks of other colors, religions, beliefs? Do we really believe they are different from ourselves?
I know I have built internal walls between myself and other children of God by calling them ignorant whites, conspiracy wackos, fundamentalists who ignore science. But watch out! The labels we put on people keep us from seeing them as part of the beloved community. With those labels, they then become part of the “not me.” But the truth is, they are people just like me, who want to understand their world, they want love and community. And God loves them as much as God does me.
This love we are called to by Jesus, Dr. King, Archbishop Tutu, Nelson Mendala and Bishop Curry is not a sentimental love but love that speaks the truth, love that fires us up to examine our national and personal lives. Its not easy, it can be painful, but it is the way of love.
Who shall we be? Let’s start with who are we now? Look squarely at racial injustice and act to effect change, make amends. Look squarely at poverty and feed people. Look at mental illness, give support. Listen to those who are lonely.
Shinning the light of love on ourselves, let us take inventory of ourselves. If we think we are not prejudiced, let us consider: What do we say about others? How do we treat others? And check this thought: Why do we even think that they are others? In a beloved community there are no others! It is all we, us! The family of God. This is the message of the baptized to the world.
Bishop Curry asks us to usher in the beloved community, by blessing someone today, someone we disagree with, someone we agree with, give someone a helping hand, pray for those we disagree with. Listen to someone else’s story. We’ll have a great opportunity to that with Rev. Pruitt in the coming weeks. Pray that we may have the wisdom and the courage to love. Pray for ourselves & our nation.
Who shall we be? One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
-Suzanne Kobayashi, Postulant for Priesthood