The Eyes Persist – a spoken word poetry sermon.

Photo on 5-5-17 at 6.28 AM (1)Tidal tsunami of torrid twitted tirades
Blitzkrieg of belligerent bombastic blow-harded baffoonery

Putrid plethora of pompous political pronouncements and pathetic public policy puke!

Like a river of wasps my eyes sting when I see hundreds of families being ripped apart by forced deportations
My pupils fix when they witness the Apprentice president bullying sanctuary cities into getting with the “ICE” cold program
My eyes dilate when they see funding to vital social programs held hostage to repealing Obamacare
My eyes redden when they see crucial climate warming data being scrubbed from governmental websites and the budget of the EPA cut by over a third.
My eyes well-up when they see the sanctity of our national parks and monuments under threat of being privatized and sold for oil and mining
My eyes widen in disbelief when they see Dolt 45 shooting to cut corporate tax rates by 50%, reduce taxes for his millionaire cronies, while increasing military spending – a recipe for making our already bad deficit – worse!
My eyelashes thicken with crust seeing the insane and deadly saber-rattling with North Korea & China!
And my eyes burn when they see that the only thing “trickling down” – besides the legs of Russian prostitutes – is the marked increase in hate crimes against Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and gays – even trickling into the lives of school-children!!
My eyes want to persist in hoping beyond hope to see the good that might somehow still be there in the world!

images-2My eyes want to see our great God showing up and doing God’s great thing in God’s great world!

And yet, in a world where 11 million Jews and others were killed in gas chambers, where many more million Russians, Chinese, and Cambodians were slaughtered in genocides; and where 150,000 Japanese civilians were vaporized by American nuclear bombs, we cannot in good conscience sing that our all loving God is also “almighty and omnipotent”

unless

…. unless

by that we mean that God is vulnerable and sometimes impotent,

and that whatever power God does have is persuasive not coercive

..Still my eyes want to persist!
My eyes yearn!    My eyes burn!

Blackened and bloodied by watching the outrageous insanity of the Nightly Bruise, my eyes turn to how that madness shows up in the lives of the college students I work with,
and in the lives of the single mothers I see struggling around me.

I see their shock, I feel their trauma, I hear their woes, I sense their fear, I wipe their tears.
How can I persist?
How can they persist?
How can we persist?!?

Gazing over that imperially oppressed and occupied city, weeping – still He persisted.
Processing in purple with palms and proclamations – still he persisted.
Tipping over tables at the treasonously colluded temple  – still he persisted.
Washing feet, breaking bread and lifting cup – still he persisted
Kissed by his betrayer, arrested, tried, and summarily sentenced – still he persisted.

Whipped and stripped, mocked and jeered – still he persisted.

Forced to carry a lethal injection gurney on his back – tripping through town, still he persisted.
Wearing a hoodie with a pocket-full of Skittles, crucified, electrocuted, guillotined, shot by firing squad, and hung by his neck until he was dead, saying “Father, why have you forsaken me?” – still he persisted.

Collapsed in a heap of sack and bones that were sealed in a cave – still He persisted.

Descended into HELL – still He persisted!
Resurrected – still he persisted!

Revealed to Mary, ordaining her the first preacher of the good news of the risen Christ, saying, ““Don’t hold on to me, I haven’t ascended to God. But go to the others and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” – still HE persisted!

Because He persisted, we persist.
In a loin cloth in India, laying in front of British tanks and soldiers saying, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” – still Gandhi persisted.

His home shot at and church in Birmingham bombed saying “Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. …and also saying, “I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots.” — still King persisted.

His nation dripping with the stagnant blood of Apartheid, leaving years behind bars, and ushering in a new era of democracy and social justice without resorting to vengeance saying, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” And “It always seems impossible until its done – still Mandela persisted.

Shot in the face by the Taliban in Afghanistan for wanting an education, saying “If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?” and “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” – still Malala Yousafzai persisted.

In the middle of a speech criticizing the Attorney General nominee, Senate Republicans silenced her, and the Majority Leader defended that unjust maneuver saying,

“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Women’s reproductive rights and healthcare are at risk and still the Pantsuit Nation persists!
Science is under attack and the March for Science persists!

Thank God for persistence!

eastwood-stareBut not to be lost in the clutter of crazy that’s seeking to unfurl our nation,
not to be lost amidst this onslaught of a national nightmare

are our black and transgender friends.

Only 13% of the U.S. population is African-American, but they’re nearly HALF of the 2.3 million Americans behind bars. And a Sentencing Project report found that “one of every three black American males born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime.”
One –  out of – three.

African Americans are far more likely to be shot by police or killed in police custody than white Americans.

And, while comprising only 1% of the population of Boulder, blacks are 5 times more likely to be arrested in Boulder than whites!
Black lives still matter.

Though less than 1% of the adult population, more than 1 in 4 transgender people has faced a bias-driven assault, and the rates are higher for trans women and trans people of color.
And an average of 20 trans persons are murdered every year.
Trans lives still matter.

So as we rightly and appropriately train our eyes on the many important fronts and demands that call our attention as our nation and our world are under assault, let us resolve to continue to keep our eyes on these vulnerable and important people.

Let’s use our eyes to look around us right now.
Let’s use our eyes to gaze at the people on both sides of us.
Let’s use our eyes to see into the windows of their souls.
Let’s see clearly now that each of us is a human being living a full human life.
Peer into your neighbor’s eyes, and realize that by doing so, we’re looking into our own eyes, peering into ourselves seeing that each of us is beautifully and wonderfully made,
that each of us are living difficult lives and we all carry a world of grief and wounds,

Let’s see that each of us is Job and we’ve each lost so much over the years

And let’s see that if we hold hands … that if we hold hands…. And just be present to each other, that we can be a living balm, we can be a living salve, that we can be a living SALVATION to each other and provide the wholeness that we’re all yearning for!

Let’s each turn to a neighbor and say to each other:  “I need you” ..repeat …
“You need me” …
“You are important to me”  …
“I need you to survive”   ….

—  THAT’s how we’ll persist!
That’s how We’ll Persist!

And all God’s people said?

Amen!

Video of this poem being read:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogerwolsey/2017/05/eyes-persist-spoken-word-poetry-sermon/

equalitymessage delivered as part of the Mosaic Gospel Choir performance  (a ministry of The Wesley Foundation at C.U. – Boulder) held at Mountain View United Methodist Church, in Boulder, CO April 30, 2017

xx Roger

Rev. Roger Wolsey is an ordained United Methodist pastor who directs the Wesley Foundation at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is author of Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity

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