St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church

3800 East Third Street

Bloomington, Indiana 47401

(812) 332-5252

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (June 28, 2015)

Liturgical Color: Green

Reverend Colleen Montgomery

Lamentations, Confessions, Prayers

A lament for those who are the victims of racism and violence across our country. A prayer of confession, for reconciliation, for guidance, for grace

Because my heart is heavy, my eyes have spent their tears, and my soul yearns for forgiveness, for peace, for equality, for hope.

Charleston, South Carolina, the latest in a long line of horrific acts of hate. Not nearly the first, not nearly the last, as the saints cry out how long.

Distance may separate us from our sisters and brothers, but the bonds of Christ yoke us as one. Yoked to the victims. Yoked to the perpetrator.

Each of our heads marked with the cross of Christ, each of our spirits sealed by the one Holy Spirit, each of our bodies beautifully made by our Creator. Yoked to victims. Yoked to the perpetrator.

Faith, we try to cling to. Faith that our God is moving in us, in the world, and bringing God's holy kingdom to earth with its peace. But this faith can be hard to find as innocent lives are taken, churches burn, families mourn. Prejudice and Privilege ruling both loudly and silently, both ways lethal.

Hate still lives within us. Sometimes it is all-consuming fire; controlling hearts, minds, actions. Sometimes it is twisted up inside, only revealing itself when guards are down. Sometimes it grows steadily like vine, overtaking. Sometimes it is small flicker, barely perceivable but still present.

I hate that I have hate in me. "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do."(Rom 7:19) I hate that I have this prejudice in me. I hate that I say the wrong thing that I meant not because it is wrong and it just came out. I hate that I feel helpless. Do you feel helpless too?

Justice, peace, forgiveness, equality, your steadfast love, O God, this is what we need. Forgive us our sins, stir us to action, enlighten our hearts and minds to the needs of our sisters and brothers.

Keeping vigil are the mourners, outside of Mother Emmanuel, outside of the statehouse, in many homes and churches across South Carolina and the country.

Listen to their prayers, their cries, their shouts of mourning and songs of confidence that you have not left their side. Go to them, comfort them, and in time turn their sadness into joy. Come to us, move in us to hear their prayers and cries in our hearts.

Myra, Daniel, Depayne, Susie, Ethel, Tywanza, Sharonda, Cynthia, Clementa. The names of your beloved, taken too soon. Not nearly the first, not nearly the last. As the saints cry out, how long?

Never will I understand the senseless violence brought into places of prayer, of welcome, of forgiveness, of hope in Mother Emmanuel, and in churches, in synagogues, in mosques, in temples across the world.

Our sisters and brothers killed because of the color of the skin, because of the faith that it in their hearts, because of who they love. One life taken should have been enough, but it never is. We take too long to recognize our sin, our complicitness.

Paths before us. Paths of love and paths of hate. Paths of life and paths of death. Paths of goodness and paths of evil. Guide us onto the ones of love, life, and goodness.

Quiet our minds, quiet our hearts, so we can hear the voices of brothers and sisters, and above all Your voice calling to us, forgiving us, and leading us in how to better love all of your beloved children and your beloved creation.

Remembrance and repentance mark this day. Remembering those who have lost their lives. Remembering the gracious works of God that sustain all us. Repenting of the sin that separates us from God's love and our sisters and brothers.

Somehow in the midst of this the voice of the Mother Emmanuel choir finds breath, finds power, find strength to proclaim the Lord's love. To tell how much God has done for them, so much that they cannot tell it all.

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad it. They proclaimed the Sunday after. They proclaimed at the funerals.

Unsure if I feel this joy. Unsure if I can stand, and praise, and clap. Yet as they proclaim, as they give thanks, as the Supreme Court says that all love is equal, hope begins to shine again. President Obama preaches, sings Amazing Grace; hope begins to shine again.

Violence cannot have the last word. Violence will not have the last word. God promises.

We gather to remember. We gather to repent. We are here to join together with our brothers and sisters in Christ in this place and to continue participating in God's radical love that breaks down all barriers. O God, hear our prayers and use us.

Expectations that God's reconciling love and justice can heal the wounds that mark our hearts, our society, our world. Expectations that love can win, justice will pour down, and that though weeping may stay for the night, Your joy comes in the morning. (Psa 30)

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. (Psa 30)



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