November 16, 2017
Proper 28, Year C
“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name.
Last week. Ugh.
The election had me upset beyond belief. Not because my “team” lost, but because the man we elected has promised that a goal of his administration would be to effectively declare war on people I care about. People I pastor. People I love. People I am married to.
And the hardest part for me isn’t that he was elected. It isn’t that he has effectively declared war on these people.
It is that people who love me, who know me, my story, my wife… those people still voted for the man who promised to harm them. They voted for the man who promised to take away her healthcare. The healthcare that saved her life last year, that pays for her medication that keeps her alive. Medication that without the insurance would cost more per month than we pay for housing and food combined.
People who love me did that. I surely do feel “betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends”.
So there is that.
I know I am not alone in questioning my place in the outcome of last week’s election. Last Wednesday we sat together in this room and named the things of which we were afraid.
There were a lot of them.
Some of us were afraid of what it meant to be black or brown in this new world.
Some of us were afraid of being deported.
Some of us were afraid we didn’t know who our friends were anymore.
Some of us were afraid of losing our healthcare, or the healthcare of our loved ones.
Some of us were afraid we, or people we loved, would become targets.
There was so much of which we were afraid.
There still is.
In the text I read today, Jesus tells us that bad things are coming. War, insurrections. Disease. Famine. Earthquakes. Arrests. Trials. Persecution. Prison.
The bad things are coming, Jesus says. And this will give you an opportunity to testify.
When the earth is in shambles,
When the world no longer makes sense,
When there isn’t enough food,
When they drag the people you love out into the streets…
It is then that you must speak.
It is then that you must raise your voice.
It is then that you must tell the world what you have seen.
It is then that you must bear witness to the Powers that Be
And tell the world of the better world that is possible.
The better world you have seen.
When you most want to hide, when you most want to retreat into safety, when you most want to curl into a ball and protect yourself.
It is then that we have an opportunity to testify.
So right now, a lot of us are afraid.
I know I am. I’m afraid for my friends. I’m afraid for my wife. I’m afraid for some of you, the people I get to minister among.
But we cannot be silent. We cannot be driven into hiding. We cannot go away.
We must be community for each other. We must practice our love for each other, and the world, all the more.
And above all, we must speak out, and testify to what we have seen.