I am more convinced than ever after this weekend that church people are going to help save the world with love. People say the church is dying and I say good, some places need to die. But While neo-nazi’s and the KKK came bearing torches, chanting violent, hateful and exclusive slogans, church people gathered in Charlottesville Virginia singing, ‘Over my head I hear freedom in the air, over my head, I hear freedom in the air, over my head I hear freedom in the air, there must be a God somewhere.’
The church people prayed to stay grounded in Love while hate swirled around them. They prepared their souls with communal blessing and protection. The next day some of them got plowed into with a car intentionally and one of them died at the hands of the alt-right white-nationalist terrorist gathering. God have mercy, Christ have mercy.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ has something to say about this, that white-supremacy is a sin and that the logic of power and domination and violence is not the logic of the Kindom of God. These powers of hate are incredibly dangerous. Yet these powers of hate do not have legs in the face of the radically inclusive love of God forged by those church people grounded in the love of Christ, not the hate of the devil disguised as Christ followers. Often racism is subtle, in micro-aggressions like “can I touch your hair” or conversations about affirmative action, and white folks, there is no denying that we carry a legacy of violence which we need the power of God to transform for us. There will be a lot of saying “I hear you, I will do better, I have learned from your experience,” rather than being defensively the good white people. And this weekend racism was overt, on purpose- a result of a flawed ideology that is an idol and is all around us.
We live in troubled times, and we only need prayer shawls in times of trouble. When we have cancer, or when we are dying, when we are depressed, when we are mourning or when we are cold. So a kind church lady wraps us in her prayers on behalf of the whole church. Wrapped in this love, we remember that Jesus tells us, do not be afraid.
On a morning when we read the beatitudes, we wonder, where do we find blessing in troubled times? What does it mean to be blessed? The logic of power and domination might say that being blessed means being exclusively white, being rich, being successful and beautiful, being violent, rising over and above others- because there is not enough blessing to go around.
But the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims the opposite. I am not blessed because I am white, I am blessed because I am compelled by Jesus vision of the world that includes love and liberation for all people, not a select few. The God of liberation tells me that just those places that the logic of domination and power say are weaknesses, are indeed strengths and places of blessing. This God tells me that blackness is a blessing, that Jewishness is a blessing, that the experiences of immigrants are a blessing, that queerness is a blessing, that brown skin is a blessing, that there is more than enough blessing to go around, and that God has a preferential option for the poor and the oppressed, the mourning and those longing for peace.
Blessing is not dumb luck or the care-free absence of suffering. Blessing is an intentional act by God that makes sure something sacred flows out of our pain and suffering. God’s blessing is abundant, not for a few, but for all of God’s children. Church people, we carry this message and we have for thousands of years. Now is the time to carry the gift of the beatitudes, the abundance of the love of God into the world, to proclaim this good news to all the corners as we stand together in fearless Love and in solidarity. This is your spiritual DNA, should you choose to accept it.
We need to be like those church ladies who knit prayer shawls today. Wrapping those who are struggling for freedom and justice with our love and prayers. We need to make our prayers into tangible physical acts of love and justice. We need these shawls now too, because if you have a heart for the world, reality is painful. Let us turn our hearts to a blessing of these prayer shawls:
Our gracious and loving God, we now pour our blessing into these shawls. You are a God of love, who weeps when her children are suffering. We see the pain of the world, the ways a spiritual sickness has crept into the soul of our nation and world. Therefore God, we ask that you help us bless one another with your love. Jesus, help us to follow in your path, which allows us to see your vision of liberation for all people. Your love, oh God, is our identity, is our beginning and our end and we ask you today wrap us in your love, as those who wear these prayer shawls will be wrapped in our love. Send your holy spirit now into this place, and bless the hands that knit these shawls, bless those who wear them and who will wear them, bless those who are healing or are dying, and ground all of us in your abundant love and blessing. Wrap the world in the shawl of your vision, Jesus, where love overcomes fear, where love overcomes hate, where love overcomes all things. Help us to be a prayer shawl for the world, turning our heartfelt belief in your kingdom into tangible fearless acts of love. Help us to not be afraid, but to be made of the strength of your love. This we ask in the name of Jesus and the many names of God. Amen.