Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Year B 3rd Easter WED Image the Invisible

Year B 3rd Easter WEDNESDAY 18 April 2018
St James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Image the Invisible”

Colossians 1:15-23
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

Matthew 3:13-17
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’

I touched on this in our Easter sermon, the miracle of the Incarnation. So often we see it that Jesus is like God. But think about it, that is what we should all aspire to be like. The miracle, and the difference in Christian theology, is that we claim an Incarnation, quite different from a Hindu Avatar, and that in-the-flesh Jesus showed us what God is truly and really like. We too often have it reversed.

In Paul’s wonderful metaphysical poem on the pre-incarnate Christ, or the Cosmic Christ, as I have heard it described, we are given a portrait of a Jesus unbound by time and space and corporeality. And a God who chooses to indwell the flesh.  Hear again some of what Paul said:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;
THIS IS WHAT GOD LOOKS LIKE
for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—
HE IS THE ROOT OF ALL THAT IS, SEEN & UNSEEN
all things have been created through him and for him.
LIKE AN ARTIST, HE MADE IT, OWNS IT, FINDS DELIGHT IN IT
He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
PRE-CREATION, AND QUANTUMLY ENTANGLED HOLDING IT ALL TOGETHER
He is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.
BECAUSE HE WAS FIRST, HE LEADS THE WAY OF THE FAITHFUL
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
WORTHY TO CONTAIN GODSELF
and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things,
whether on earth or in heaven,
by making peace through the blood of his cross.
ABLE TO DO WHAT WAS NEEDED FOR US ALL

Almost creedal in its formulation, this litany of Christ’s attributes inspires awe. The Creator and Keeper and Redeemer of all that there is, and the driver of all that there will be. He is the Crux of the Universe, and in his crux, the Cross, he enabled all of what is to be reconciled with him, and for him, and to him.

My mentor always said, a leader does what has to be done. And if you are able to do it, you are response-able. And only Jesus, God in the Flesh, could do what had to be done. And because of that, we are able to be who we were meant to be. In Matthew’s account of the baptism we hear echoing out of heaven that beautiful name: Beloved. Agapetos. Ho Agapetos, THE Beloved. This is my Son, THE Beloved, in whom I am well pleased. Not only claiming Jesus, God declares the relationship, the status of him, as well as his pleasure. It is this story that kicks off the ministry of Jesus, this Epiphany that he is unlike anyone or anything that has come before.

Ho Agapetos. THE Beloved. And because of who he is, and what he has done, we are given the response-ability to do what we can. Paul calls himself a servant at the end of today’s passage. But the word there, diakonos, is where we get our term Deacon, a servant, a waiter, the person who does what needs to be done and anticipates the needs and makes them come to fruition. And Christ, the Cosmic Christ, began it, modeled it, and follows through with us all the days of our life. Amen.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Year B 3rd Easter 2018 Belonging

Year B 3rd Sunday of Easter 15 April 2018
St James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Belonging”

Collect: O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.Amen.

Acts 3:12-19
Peter addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.”

1 John 3:1-7
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

Luke 24:36b-48
Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

One of the great curses of our age is the disconnect from community. The feeling of isolation that happens in a so-called “connected age.” When we turn to social media for our social interactions, it actually creates distance. It is a tool, like any other. A good one, when used well, like a scalpel or a laser or a paintbrush. Being connected is the goal.

On the other hand, when we feel disconnected, apart from the whole, or that we do not belong, that is one of the great ills of our society and of so many people. The Beatles put it so well, so hauntingly, in their old song Eleanor Rigby

[A picture of her grave I took in Liverpool in 2016.]

Image may contain: plant, flower and outdoorImage may contain: text and outdoor

Ah look at all the lonely people 
Ah look at all the lonely people 
Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice 
In the church where a wedding has been 
Lives in a dream 
Waits at the window, wearing the face 
That she keeps in a jar by the door 
Who is it for 
All the lonely people 
Where do they all come from? 
All the lonely people 
Where do they all belong?

Eleanor Rigby, died in the church
 
And was buried along with her name 
Nobody came 
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt 
From his hands as he walks from the grave 
No one was saved 
All the lonely people 
Where do they all come from? 
All the lonely people 
Where do they all belong?

Loneliness is as detrimental to the human heart as any disease or affliction. Married people live longer. People involved in community live longer. People with a purpose live longer. The key to belonging is being engaged, connected, feeling wanted and needed and a part. 

Belonging is one of the great needs of the human psyche. Freud, you have heard me say before, explained that we must see ourselves as lovable and capable of loving. Eleanor Rigby, and stop me after church if you would like to see a picture of her grave in Liverpool, was lonely. She had duty as she picked up the rice, but she did not feel like she belonged. So sad. So, so, sad.

We all need a tribe, a group, a family. And too often these days, we have set the bar so high on belonging, or feeling accepted, that some do not even try to attempt to make it into our groupings.

It used to be that affinity groups were about submitting to the authority of the group in order to belong to the group. In short hand, the way things used to be in groups like churches or other gatherings, one had to believe first, and if one affirmed that common belief then one could belong. 

A few decades ago, things got turned on their heads. It went that people did not trust authority, so they rejected groups that tried to impose authority. There were lots of reasons. The War in Vietnam, the counter-cultural movement, etc. And the people for whom this was the norm, the water they swam in, taught the next generation where it was exacerbated. And it has since become worse and worse, as far as believing before belonging goes. So what is our state of affairs.

Might it be that we have to turn things around, and let people try things on and belong first before we can even expect belief? There are even phrases for it: “Fake it till you make it.” And the like. People have an interest in spirituality, and because of that, they may check out church. For a time or two. And what could it be? Could we let people get comfy, and explore before we enforce this is what WE BELIEVE on them? Our creeds can be tools or weapons. I have faith. God is not done with any of us yet, and maybe we are going through some generations of Belonging more than Believing. And one day the pendulum will swing back. It all goes back to the needs of the human heart. 

We all need a tribe. That is why I feel the words of Jesus so powerfully. He came so that we could belong. He came so that we need not have any reasons that would hinder our belonging. He came so that we would have no excuses to being a part of him. When Jesus appeared the night of his Resurrection, the disciples were actually surprised and terrified about his appearance even though he had told them three times in Luke’s version that this was exactly what would happen. As he said, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them,
“Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” 

In his coming back, in a real, corporeal presence, he showed them that everything he said was true. He was the proof. He even ate some fish so they knew it was not a ghost. But notice EVEN HERE, he met them where they were, accepted them, let them see for themselves that they still belonged with him, and then he worked on their belief. Wow.

Think on that, think on the extent God went to for each and every one of us to belong. Start first with the idea that God wired you in such a way to need to belong. We are social creatures. We die in isolation. If you ever wondered if you were made to be social or not, try tickling yourself. You cannot. We are wired to be in relationship. We are wired to belong. If God cared enough about you to make you ticklish, which is fun but silly, how much more does he care about the things that truly matter?

We can only guess. But he cared so much that he did not phone it in, but actually showed up to show us. He came in the form we would understand and recognize. He took on flesh and blood, hunger, thirst, and pain; he took on a family, and friends, and heartache; he took on a name Jesus, Yeshua, God-Saves, that is what it means. Could it get any clearer than that?

And God cared enough that we were given Free Will to choose. God will not force Godself on any of us. Some people see the idea of Hell as off-putting. And of course it is. Could it be, that Hell is not, a place of Judgment? Ponder this with me. As I see it, God wants no one to be separated from Godself. I understand Hell to be the condition of being apart from God. It is the space/time/place of Unrequited Love. God loves us and respects us enough that we have a choice on whether we choose to love God back or not. God forces Godself on no one.

A VERY different way of thinking than most of us have understood. In I John, I feel that is what the author is getting at in encouraging the Church.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; 

Notice here, not that we will be, or could be. WE ARE GOD’s CHILDREN NOW. It is signed, sealed, and delivered. And this is just the beginning.

I remember when my children were born. All those hopes and wishes and dreams we have for our kids. And life has its ups and downs, its setbacks and disappointments. But it also has its triumphs and joys, its glories and fulfillments, and it is not over yet. There are bright and good and glorious days ahead, and I cannot wait to see where it takes them, and me. The best of life so far is just the foretaste, the sip of the spoon on the heavenly banquet that is yet to come.

From I John again:
...what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Our response to these promises and foretastes is to be our best, to purify and live out the reality of our being God’s Children NOW. We are not in dress rehearsal for heaven. We are in the reality of God’s Kingdom NOW. And when we realize that, and start living in that reality, it makes all the trifles and trivialities less and less important. 

L. R. Knost penned this:
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. LOVE INTENTIONALLY, EXTRAVAGANTLY, UNCONDITIONALLY. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you. [Emphasis mine]

Sisters and brothers, you may be the only Bible some may ever read. You may be the sermon only some people have ever heard. Just as Christ came into the world to love the world, and that the world might be saved through him. [John 3:16-17] And in the same way, we have been named and claimed as God’s Children. There is no tawdry talk-show paternity test here. God calls us his own. Today, tomorrow, and forever. And in that authority we have been commissioned and sent to be that light in the world that brings out the God-Colors, that salt that enhances the God-Flavors, that difference in the world that leads us all to our Eternal Home.

Beloved, we are God’s Children NOW. You already belong. What have we to fear? As Jesus began with his disciples on that Resurrection night, “Peace be with you! Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” He could very well be saying the same thing to us. Amen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Year B 2nd Easter WED 2018 Abide

Year B 2nd Easter WEDNESDAY 11 April 2018
St James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Abide”

Ps 119:1-24
Exodus 15:22-16:10
I Peter 2:1-10
John 15:1-11
Jesus said: ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.’

I tell this to my girls all the time, “Just do what I say and we all can be happy.”

No, that’s not true. I may think it, too often, but I do not say it.

But think about it. That is what Jesus is saying to us. “You wanna be happy? Really happy? Do what I am telling you to do.” Now the Bible version is not that colloquial, but it is saying that.

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”

What does it look like to abide in Christ’s love? What does that feel like? How does that come to reality in our lives?

We obey his commandments. Love everybody. Even those who hurt and hate you. Do good. Love God. Love Neighbor. Love Self. You seeing a theme here?

Spring is finally here, I think, maybe despite the snowflakes the last few days. And as we enter into spring, I think on gardens and planting. I think on abiding.
“Abide in my love,” says Jesus. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”

We are not plants though, we wander and move. But going back to the original metaphor of a vine, we choose to be grafted onto God and God’s work.

Does think make God happy? Yes, of course.

But instead of losing out, we gain everything.

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

God wants us to be joyfilled. God wants our complete joy. Not halfway. Not three quarters. God wants us to be filled to the brim and overflowing, so our cup can “runneth over.”

And as I say this, I always have to add the caveat, do not confuse joy with happiness. Things make us happy or unhappy. Situations, pleasures, and entertainments.

Joy comes from within, no matter our situation. Joy is our appreciation of who we are, and whose we are. Joy is the attitude of gratitude for all that we have been given, and all that we have been enabled to do. Happiness is a feeling, while Joy is a choice.

And God wants us to choose to abide, and in so doing, God wants our Joy to be complete.

What is your Joy? Are you staying grafted into the Vine so that you are being all you can be? Amen.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Year B 2nd Easter 2018 MLK Observed What Will Become of His Dreams

Year B 2nd Sun of Easter 2018 (MLK, Jr. Observed on the 50th Anniversary of Assassination) 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“What Will Become Of His Dreams” 

Collect: Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  
Genesis 37:17b–20 Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” 

Ephesians 6:10–20 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. 

Luke 6:27–36 Jesus said, “I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.  “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” 

From Holy Women Holy Men: 
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta. As the son and grandson of Baptist preachers, he was steeped in the Black Church tradition. To this heritage he added a thorough academic preparation, earning the degrees of B.A., B.D., and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Boston University. 

In 1954, King became pastor of a church in Montgomery, Alabama. There, Black indignation at inhumane treatment on segregated buses culminated in December, 1955, in the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. King was catapulted into national prominence as the leader of the Montgomery bus boycott. He became increasingly the articulate prophet, who could not only rally the Black masses, but could also move the consciences of Whites. 

King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to spearhead non-violent mass demonstrations against racism. Many confrontations followed, most notably in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, and in Chicago. King’s campaigns were instrumental to the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965 and 1968. King then turned his attention to economic empowerment of the poor and opposition to the Vietnam War, contending that racism, poverty and militarism were interrelated. 

King lived in constant danger: his home was dynamited, he was almost fatally stabbed, and he was harassed by death threats. He was even jailed 30 times; but through it all he was sustained by his deep faith. In 1957, he received, late at night, a vicious telephone threat. Alone in his kitchen he wept and prayed. He relates that he heard the Lord speaking to him and saying, “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice,” and promising never to leave him alone—“No, never alone.” King refers to his vision as his “Mountain-top Experience.” 

After preaching at Washington Cathedral on March 31, 1968, King went to Memphis in support of sanitation workers in their struggle for better wages. There, he proclaimed that he had been “to the mountain-top” and had seen “the Promised Land,” and that he knew that one day he and his people would be “free at last.” On the following day, April 4, he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet. 

I was born one year and 5 months after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. He does, however, hold a big place in my life. Growing up in the 70s, especially during February’s African-American History Month, we were told stories, made posters, and watched movies. Many of them were about Martin Luther King, Jr. I always liked that he was a Baptist Pastor, like I wanted to be. And I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, “I have a dream.”  
50 years since he was taken from us, his dream remains just that, a dream. We are still striving for a place where people are judged not for the color of their skin but for the content of their character. For the last several years much of my work has been focused on helping us move into MLK’s Dream, and reconciling us with the nightmare of race based slavery upon which this country was established. We are still paying for the sins of our our forebears. Not to mention the sins of our day, as well. 

Personally I work on this issue with all my work with the Triangle of Hope with the Diocese of Virginia, the Diocese of Liverpool in England, and the Diocese of Kumasi in Ghana. We are working together on forgiveness, hope, and reconciliation. As Romans quotes (3:10): “None are righteous, no not one.” We were and are complicit in the slave trade. Even if not slave holders, or descendents of owners, there is a position of privilege allowed to us and to those who came before us by the color of our skin, and there are those for whom the opposite is also true. All three dioceses recognize the sins of our precedents. Ghana sold conquered enemies and tribute payments to Europeans because they made more money doing that than in the gold that originally brought the Gold Coast to the attention of the West. Slavery was far more profitable they found than gold itself. Liverpool was the shipping fleet and banking of the merchant marine. As you walk around the city, you still see the traces of trade in bas relief on the walls of the banks and buildings. And we, the United States of America, and our Caribbean neighbors, purchased the enslaved Africans for our benefit of cheap labor to supply the raw materials.   
We sent the raw materials to England, which shipped the manufactured goods to Africa, and swapped out human cargo to take the Middle Passage of the Atlantic creating a horrible triangle. And together, the three dioceses are working to transform this heritage of shame and hate to one of reconciliation and hope. God help us. God forgive us. For the last several years, I have worked on building up the Youth Pilgrimage between Liverpool and Virginia to prepare a new generation to continue the work of MLK’s Dream of a Beloved Community where people are honored and respected for who they are, which is the fulfillment of our Baptismal Covenant no matter what words are used. 

At the end of this month I will be going to both Liverpool and Ghana, continuing the work and preparing the way for the pilgrimage to expand to Ghana as well. You will be in good, capable hands with Harrison Higgins, our deacon, while I am representing you and the Diocese of Virginia overseas. Please be in prayer for our journey, and my knees on the airplanes. 

Another important area working toward racial reconciliation is that I have served at Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School in Richmond, where I worked for 5 years. I taught many subjects, but was mostly the chaplain for this wonderful school serving East End kids in Richmond, most students coming out of the housing projects on Church Hill. Vastly African-American in its student population, the school is also about living out our baptismal vows of serving Christ in all persons, loving neighbor as self, striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. The Episcopal Church should be about this work because every life matters, and black lives matter in particular. 

Now by using that phrase, some of you will bristle. All lives matter. Which is exactly what our baptismal vows say and most of you have promised to do. But think on it this way. All houses matter. All should be safe and protected. And that is why we have a fire department. When we have a fire, though, what would it look like if the home owners whose houses were not on fire demanded that they be sprayed down first to protect their property while the house on fire is being destroyed? BECAUSE ALL HOUSES MATTER, WE PUT OUT THE ONES ON FIRE FIRST. And the words, “All lives matter” can only be uttered from a place of privilege which shows that someone does not comprehend what is going on. 

As a straight, white male, there are many assumptions I am given. I receive the Benefit of the Doubt because of the color of my skin, my gender, my orientation. It is not fair. It is not right. Add to that my collar, and I am the beneficiary of much trust and privilege. We, as a society, are wrestling with so much of this now. Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and the fallout from Parkland. So much has happened in so small a space, but let that drive us further into the call for the respect and dignity of all God’s Children. [Sung] 
Red and Yellow, Black and White,  
they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.  
We have a long way to go. We have a lot of work to do. I want to be in on that. I want to be a part of making King’s Dream, and I believe God’s Dream, come more true each and every day. 

On May 10, you can help us take a step in that direction as we join with our brothers and sisters of Shiloh Baptist on South James Street for a joint worship service. May 10 at 7 p.m. Together we can come and celebrate our unity in Christ, and our unity in spirit and truth. Start praying for this today. Put it in your calendar if it is not already there. 

Students and parents, we are already preparing for our pilgrimage to start again in 2020, so if you are in 8th or 9th grade next year you can start thinking about going with us to Liverpool, around Virginia, and to Ghana over three summers. Exciting and big days getting us closer to that Dream of the Beloved Community.  

And lastly, I want to speak on Dreams. Dreams are the encapsulation of what we hold most dear. Dreams speak clearly to us what is the desire of our heart, and puts it in such a way that we can fully grasp it with all our senses. We can taste it, touch it, hear it, and see it. It is so real it can drive us even when it is hopeless and senseless. JFK’s Dream for America took us to the moon, even after he was dead. MLK’s Dream is still out there, drawing us more fully into the promise of this country, that which many have called the bright and shining city on the hill which echoes the words of Jesus himself. 

Never have the audacity to scorn someone’s dreams or dismiss them. That may be all they have. 

In today’s Genesis reading we have Joseph’s jealous brothers trying to squash the dreamer. They think of killing him to tear down his dreams. They eventually instead, to line their pockets, sell him into slavery. And in their deriding of him utter this haunting phrase, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Little do they realize that the dream they tried to tear down, they insured that it came true, and God could be glorified in it. MLK often said, that the redemption of the African-Americans may well prove to be the salvation of the United States of America and that even in the horrors imposed on MLK and so many others during the Civil Rights movements, God could be glorified, much like in Joseph’s story. Imagine that, all the things that happened to MLK, and he wanted, prayed for, and marches for all our redemption and fullness in God. That was his Dream. Not just for himself or his children, but for us all. 

I hold that Dreamers are actually the prophets at times, speaking truth to us in ways that we need. God can speak to us in our dreams, and our dreamers can be those prophets who proclaim the truths we need to hear. 

We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams;— World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems. 
-From “Ode” by Arthur O'Shaughnessy 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a mover and shaker, and a dreamer of dreams. And his dream still resonates with me, and I hope for you as well. How can you further God’s Dream for the Kingdom by striving and sweating for the inclusion of all God’s Children into the Beloved Community? 

On the National Archives of this great nation we see these words carved into stone. It is taken from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest: 
What Is Past Is Prologue 
For that to be true, then together we have to write the future. May it be so. Amen.