Not One More, Not Done Yet
Not One More. Not Done Yet.
A Sermon for Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC, Lexington
Rev. Reebee Kavich Girash
June 7, 2020
Introduction: Today’s scripture readings are suggested for Trinity Sunday, the Sunday following Pentecost, because they highlight the relational nature of God and they include God as creator, God as savior, and God as Spirit. These are from the Inclusive Bible translation.
Genesis 1:1-2; 26-28
IN THE BEGINNING God created the heavens and the earth. 2 But the earth became chaos and emptiness, and darkness came over the face of the Deep—yet the Spirit of God was brooding over the surface of the waters.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, to be like us.§ Let them be stewards of the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, the wild animals, and everything that crawls on the ground.” 27 Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them.
16 The Eleven made their way to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had summoned them. 17 At the sight of the risen Christ they fell down in homage, though some doubted what they were seeing. 18 Jesus came forward and addressed them in these words: “All authority has been given me both in heaven and on earth; 19 go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of Abba God, and of the Only Begotten, and of the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, even until the end of the world!”
Prayer: O God, in whom we live and move and have our being, Bring life to these words; Move our hearts;
And be with us, always, to the end of the world. Amen.
The singer, the song and the singing.
Lover, Beloved, Love
Source, Body, Breath
Voice, Word, Wisdom
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
It’s Trinity Sunday, perhaps the only day of the year when Protestant clergy try to explain what it means that God is one in three and three in one, “three distinct dancers who make up one dynamic dance.” The trinity is a somewhat arcane piece of church teaching that to be frank I doubt many of you really care about at all, per se. In the early centuries of the church not only was the trinity important but folks excommunicated one another over the internal mechanics of the trinity. But for us, the doctrine of trinitarian mechanics fades away in favor of the beauty and mystery of God in three persons, blessed trinity.
Doctrine aside, there’s a reason to talk Trinity today. The trinity tells us that God is inherently relational. From the first moments of creation God was dancing within God’s self and sending out God’s own spirit to breathe over the waters….
God created humanity not as one aspect, but as God within relationship, forming creatures with whom to be in eternal relationship. “Let us make humankind in our image, to be like us.” So, if God is Lover, Beloved and Love - if God is Voice, Word, and Wisdom - and if God is inherently relational within God’s self and toward creation and humanity - then that says something about God’s creation.
“Full humanity, we might say, is never in the singular, never merely “I” or “me”; it’s always in the plural, always “us” and “we.””
And that relationality is crucial to who we are. I am not me independent of you, we are dependent upon each other, that is to say interdependent, and we are in what Dr. King called the inescapable network of mutuality. Archbishop Desmond Tutu draws upon the concept of Ubuntu to name this mutuality: ‘My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.’”
God’s dance of relationship within Godself and God’s ongoing relationship with all of creation teaches us how to live, and move, and have our being.
When Jesus sent forward his followers into the world in the name of the, as the Inclusive Bible translates it, “Abba God, and of the Only Begotten, and of the Holy Spirit,” that wasn’t an esoteric doctrine, it was a commission to live in relationship with the world and everyone in it. “And know that I am with you always, even until the end of the world,” he said - we go forth into the world knowing that the redeemer is with us in this dance of relationship. But then there is the question: are we with Jesus, until the end of the world? I’m convicted and called by the reflections of Matt Skinner this week:
“Christ continues to cry out in agony, cast out to die in abandonment….
Christ continues to show up among the outsider and the oppressed. Christ continues to surrender his own advantages and privileges, urging us to join him. Will we be with him?”
We can only be with Jesus, to the end of the world, if we are with Jesus’s siblings, our siblings, hearing their cry. Today, we only operate in the world in the name of Jesus, making the love and justice of Jesus real, standing with our Brother Jesus, if we say the names of our beloved siblings:
Beautiful and beloved, created in the image of God, we say their names:
We say their names. And we say, not one more. Not one more. Beautiful, beloved, Not one more killed, not one more lost.
We say their names, knowing that God who is inherently relational and creates us to be in relational beings, links us to these beautiful and beloved people as siblings. We say their names, calling out for justice for black lives taken by white supremacy.
We say their names but this is not enough.
We stood and knelt, holding signs along Mass Ave
Some of us might have felt righteous
But holding a sign will not move the system of institutional racism
Holding a sign
In a rich suburb
Does not constitute courageous action
Changing my Facebook profile picture does not change the world.
Kneeling for eight minutes and forty-six seconds of silence
Should not win thumbs up signs from cars driving by.
We have a tendency to move on quickly.
Either we feel we’ve done our part, made the donation, watched the movie, held up the sign. Checked the box.
Or, we are outraged and ready to act and a day later the world is on fire in a different place, this new explosion just as important.
But, says womanist theologian Karen Baker-Fletcher, it is our inherently relational, Trinitarian God who draws us back again and again into relationship with our neighbors. “God’s courageous, generous, relational, Trinity” makes possible our response to the violence that affects the whole earth. God is “in creation’s struggle for life abundance, and for the full realization of freedom, justice, love and wholeness on earth as in heaven.” God is in the struggle, and we who are in relationship with God are called in to relationship with every one of our siblings, to act for justice and liberation.
George Floyd called out for his mother. One of the most compelling signs I saw this week was the one that read, in calling out for his mother, George Floyd called forth every mother. Imagine every mother called forth to recognize her own child in every beautiful, beloved child of God in danger from the threat of white supremacy and violence. Imagine God the mother of all, “like a woman in childbirth, crying out, gasping and panting” (Isaiah 42).
Remember that the redeemer Christ, as a preacher pointed out this week, and as black liberation theologians have been naming for years, remember that the redeemer Christ as a dark skinned man killed in state sanctioned violence.
Imagine the Sustainer Spirit, the very Ruah breath of God, giving courage to those calling for breath.
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, pastor in Ferguson, Missouri and officer of the national United Church of Christ, preached at a memorial for George Floyd (paraphrasing): Our action begins with seeing the pain of our siblings, listening, truly and carefully and humbly listening, centering the voices and leadership of those who are most vulnerable (let me be clear: centering the voices and leadership of people of color). The true struggle for change, she said, begins with hearing “The voices and hearts of those who rage in the streets, crying out because there is no other way to be heard...from then you will march together for justice - not for them, but with them.”
God who is inherently relational models for us interdependent relationships with our siblings, and if we follow that model, we will see our siblings’ pain; we will listen to our siblings crying out, and we will stand with them, now and for as long as it takes, to end white supremacy and to build up racial justice.
God is calling out, not one more. Not one more person of color killed because of the color of their skin, not one more victim of police brutality, not one more.
Jesus is with us always, in the work of liberation, to the end of the world. Are we with Jesus in the struggle?
In the name of our loving, liberating, and life-giving God, Amen.