I’m not preaching this weekend because I’m on a continuing education trip in Germany.
If I was, the following might be something along the lines of what I’d hope to say.
Upon the news that the officer who shot and killed Philado Castille in Minnesota was acquitted, and upon the 2 year Anniversary of the mass shooting of 9 black people studying their Bibles in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and upon the 1 year anniversary of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, and upon the shooting of a congressmen in Virgina this week- boy, oh boy, do we EVER need the Spirit’s guidance to know what to say. Our words, our bullshit “thoughts and prayers,” – THEY’RE. NOT. ENOUGH.
When Jesus says “Brother will betray brother to death”- THAT’S NOT A COMMANDMENT!!! It’s acknowledgement of human sin and the capacity for evil.
WE HAVE GOT TO STOP BETRAYING ONE ANOTHER TO DEATH. It is not our job to sentence death to those deemed deserving by our ridiculous human standards.
We have been given LIFE. Freely we have received this life; and in return, we are asked to freely give to others to help them enhance the lives that THEY have been given.
Why is this so damn difficult to understand?
The other day, I was on a tour of Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany.
It’s a harrowing but necessary experience to learn about the evil that took place there.
It’s gruesome to think about how so many people were treated with absolute disregard for their humanity. They were shipped in on trains, stripped down, shaved, sanitized, given a number as their new identity and had their personhood ignored and boiled down to ethnic or racial attributes. They were worked to the bone, starved, humiliated, beaten, tortured, and either killed intentionally or as the result of neglect and mistreatment.
This is what happens when fear, ignorance, and hatred guide our judgments.
This is what happens when we let ourselves think that we/I are more worthy than them. This is what happens when we live in an us vs. them society.
When Jesus is instructing his disciples to go out and continue ministry, he says, “Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting.”
Because of Jesus’s death on the Cross and resurrection from the grave, we have all been made worthy through Christ. This world is the only home we’ve got for the time being. Can we please start greeting one another with peace and not suspicion?
It is not okay that people live in fear that they or their loved ones could be killed simply for existing at a particular place and time.
It is not okay that wrongful actions among those in authority have no consequences at the expense of others’ livelihood.
It is not okay that people look at those different from them and decide that those differences warrant the death penalty.
The prophetic Decolonize Lutheranism movement posted the following statement on their Facebook page, and I repeat it here because it bears repeating.
“In the Heidelburg Disputation, Luther says that a theologian of the cross “calls a thing what it actually is,” or if the original German is translated literally, “calls things by their true names.”
Therefore, #decolonizeLutheranism calls the acquittal of Officer Jeronimo Yanez what it is – evil based on the sin of white supremacy, and calls Philando Castile by his true name – a beloved, and murdered, child of God.
And as is our prophetic duty, we are calling on all Lutheran communities and all baptized Lutherans to mourn, rage, heal, and begin to move. We will not call “peace peace” where there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14), nor “justice justice” where there is no justice.
We cry out “Jesus save us!” “
May God not only give us the words we need to speak in and to this world, but also the courage, the strength, and the passion to work for the day when peace may be called peace and justice may truly be justice for ALL.