Worship as an Act of Defiance

Sunday, October 28, 2018


Worship as an Act of Defiance


This morning, going to church seemed like an act of defiance.  And an act of solidarity with my Jewish brothers and sisters whose sacred space was violated by a white supremacist who killed eleven of their fellow worshippers and wounded others.

As I sat in the pew of our Christian Church which is committed to justice, thoughts and images floated through my mind.  I sensed the presence of our dear friend, The Rev. Bill Hervey, a white clergy colleague and father of eight children, who went to Mississippi to help black people register to vote in the fifties at another time of turmoil and struggle in our national life. Earlier in the week, two people had been killed because of the color of their skin. And pipe bombs had been sent to people for their political stance.

As I was praying, another image came to mind of a boil that has come to a head and needs to be lanced until the pus pours out so the wound can heal. Hatred is the pus pouring out of a boil on our national soul. When did a misguided belief that extreme wealth, unrestrained power, blind patriarchy, and bald nationalism become a tolerated rallying cry for people in power to rally support?

Nationalism wherever it exists in the world is a harbinger of violence and discrimination. It is the enemy of patriotism. It is dangerous.

Through the last decades, so many people have broken through oppressive stereotypes and prejudices, at some cost to themselves. They were making this world a better place. It is not the misogynists of the past who will make America shine but these heralds of the future. But we have to be careful. Only peaceful means can bring about peaceful ends.

I want my grandchildren and great grandchild to know that the toxic environment in which we are now living which unleashes hatred and unhealthy division, belongs in the past.  It does not need to be our future. Though the drumroll of violence and viciousness is sounding, there are other sounds in the air that can prevail. The powerful music of love.

The far Right may claim that God is on their side. Not the God I know, though the God I know loves sinners, which we all are. The God I know shows no partiality and calls us to our higher selves. I hear these words echoing from the pages of Micah 6:8 from the Hebrew Bible. (NRSV)

God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

In our current President’s world in which relying on armed force is supposed to sustains life, the answer to school violence was to arm teachers. And now, his answer to violence in houses of worship is to have armed guards in them. Those are words that, rather than take guns from killers, advocates spreading them around, letting us all shoot it out. Arms is big business.

!So this morning, I went to church, a church without an armed guard, and refused to be intimidated. I am vulnerable. So are we all with or without weaponry. We all rely on one another’s good will for survival and on society’s ability to function by just laws.

Of course, we need to be wise. I don’t want those I love to take chances that lead them into predictable danger. I want them to live as good people, courageously caring about the welfare of people in their families, down the block,  and around the globe. I want them to go about their lives and keep fear in check. We need living saints not martyrs. And I long for them to experience some transcendent Presence that helps them live confidently even in the face of loss when it comes for some loss is inevitable.

I’m sorry, this reflection is so inadequate. Just know this. The violence that has been let loose will not prevail. The Tree of Life is ours to move toward and claim. I believe it was planted by a Divine Lover of humanity, a creating power with the first and last Word who guides our feet in the way of peace. And whether or not you share this belief, the fruit of the Tree of Life is there to nourish you.



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