Those Who Watch for the Morning

Those Who Watch for the Morning June 26, 2016

On Friday, I got a Holy Spirit memo that the message I started on Monday was not the right one for Sunday. That’s how it goes sometimes. So today, we’re going to have a Good News Sunday. It would do us all some good, and it might do the world some good, to focus on all the ways people are doing ok; all the glimpses of light breaking through the cracks out there. Your Mission today— is to not lose hope. Do not give up on good news, that is still being embodied and enacted, out there in the world.

Because good news is out there. It just gets buried in the chaos sometimes. But we know the one who can speak peace to the chaos. Who draws good news from the hopeless and brings life to places of death. And we know that, woven into the fabric of our lives—even with all its chaos—are living Psalms. Hymns of holiness.

So we’re inviting you to lay down the anxiety and the outrage for awhile, and rest in the goodness of God…

As a deer longs for flowing streams,

    so my soul longs for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God,

    for the living God.

When shall I come and behold

    the face of God?

My tears have been my food

    day and night,

while people say to me continually,

    “Where is your God?”…

Why are you cast down, O my soul,

    and why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

    my help and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;

    therefore I remember you

from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,

    from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep

    at the thunder of your cataracts;

all your waves and your billows

    have gone over me.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,

    and at night his song is with me,

    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock,

    “Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I walk about mournfully

    because the enemy oppresses me?”…

Why are you cast down, O my soul,

    and why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

    my help and my God.

Last week, we felt despair… at the loss of life in Orlando, at the sense of certainty that no meaningful conversation could ever take place among our leaders, when it comes to common sense gun laws.

But then, Senator John Lewis led his colleagues in a sit-in—in the spirit of the lunch counter sit-ins he led in the early civil rights movement—and it lasted for more than 24 hours. They preached a sermon on the House floor.

Congressman Keith Ellison tweeted a picture of a post-it note that one of his aids handed him while he was in a meeting: it said simply “Your mom called. She wants you on the floor.” Needless to say—he went to the floor.

More moving still was the crowd that gathered outside. Some held rainbow colored signs that said “disarm hate.” There were banners that said ‘moms demand action,’ Posters promising that ‘Love Wins.’ Some just carried candles.

This was an eclectic group with no leader, no official message, no spokesperson… Just ordinary people—each with their own reasons to show up. To bring signs of hope and faith—to hold up a light against the darkness of violence and stalemate politics and say—we are here. Change is coming, and

Our soul waits for the Lord;

    he is our help and shield.

Our heart is glad in him,

    because we trust in his holy name.

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

    even as we hope in you.

It is worth mentioning that, one year and one week ago, it was not legal for many Americans to marry the person they loved. But now we mark the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that would extend those rights to everyone…

After the 1973 fire at a New Orleans nightclub, that claimed 32 lives— Rev. Troy Perry got on a plane. Perry—the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church— flew from his California home to New Orleans to minister to survivors, and the victims’ families.

Perry talks about how hard it was to find a church that would host funerals for the victims; he finally found one, St Mark’s UMC. And he tells how the media gathered outside-this church is in the French Quarter—cameras and reporters waited outside to confront the mourners. Rev. Perry, seeing what waited out there, offered to show the congregation a way out the back door. But “Nobody left by the backdoor,” he said. “And that’s the legacy. We never ran away.”

In an interview this week, Rev. Perry remembers those days following the nightclub fire. He said at that time, there was no outpouring of support from the community; no word of support from from local churches, no statement from political leaders…

What a different world it is today… Following the shooting in Orlando, churches all across the country opened their doors, lit candles, and offered up prayers of peace. Politicians made statements of support, and calls to action. And the President has named Stonewall the site a national monument. A place where people can gather and remember.

And hope. And say

For God alone my soul waits in silence,

    for my hope is from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my deliverance and my honor;

    my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;

    pour out your heart before him;

    God is a refuge for us.

It may feel as though the Brexit vote in the UK has opened up a new and ominous season of global insecurity. That baser human impulses of racism and fear of the other won out over the spirit of collaboration and and community.

But here at home, we continue to learn of the many ways that our own neighbors welcome refugees. We are partnering with our Muslim friends, our Jewish neighbors,and our Catholic colleagues to make our community safer and stronger and more diverse.

And in face of rampant Islamaphobia, here and elsewhere, we will gather here on Wednesday with our friends from the dialogue institute. We will share a meal as they break their Ramadan fast, and we will share stories of our faith. Many of which sound so much the same. Like,

My soul waits for the Lord,

    and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

    more than those who watch for the morning,

    more than those who watch for the morning.

Just a few days ago, we did not know if we would have Kansas public schools today. But today, we do. It’s a small measure—a quick fix, to be sure, with much work to be done, many conversations waiting to happen.

But for now, our people, on both sides of the aisle, have said yes to education—to a more hopeful future. For now, kids who depend on free lunch, and other services, will have it just awhile longer… For now, we continue to invest in our children; and protect the vulnerable. For now, we

sing to the Lord a new song;

    sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Sing to the Lord, bless his name;

    tell of his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the nations,

    his marvelous works among all the peoples.

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

    he is to be revered above all gods.

For all the gods of the peoples are idols,

    but the Lord made the heavens.

Honor and majesty are before him;

    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Do not despair. Yes, there are guns. There is homophobia, and racism.  We have seen patriarchy, xenophobia, Garison Keillor picked the worst possible time to retire. And yes, we encounter a growing, global anxiety and fear of the stranger that may lead us all to economic ruin.

But God is for us. God will not leave us to the dust.

That is more than a blind optimism—it is a truth embodied in our friends and neighbors, in the world all around us. All is not lost. There is hope for the world, as long as we speak hope. There is good news, as long as we bring good news.

The arc of the universe is long… but it bends toward justice…

Fear is not the boss of you. Chaos does not rule the world, whatever evidence we may find to the contrary…

So today, in the spirit of the psalmists—who speak our human hopes and fears so well, in every age—take just a moment to dwell in the peace of Christ.

You have one job,

Don’t leave by the back door…Don’t give up the floor. Don’t let that candle go out…

Find courage in small moments of goodness…

Witness to the good news this week. Read good books. Bake bread and take some to the neighbors. Better yet, make dinner and have the neighbors over. Step away from the CNN, the C-Span, the Fox News and the MSNBC. Be with your people. Breathe. Listen to some music. Take a walk. Look up. Give thanks. Repeat.

Find one way that you are going to embody the good news that is present in all things.

This is how we hold onto our humanness; this is how we live into the goodness of belonging to God.

 

via Pixabay
via Pixabay

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