Sunday, October 28, 2018
No Room for Hate!
No Room for Hate!
No Room for Hate! Today in every house of worship in America this what we need to proclaim!
Friday at the National Cathedral, the Episcopal Church honored Matthew Sheppard. Twenty years ago he was beaten, pistol whipped, and tied to a barbed wire fence on a cold October night in Laramie, Wyoming. He was left to die. Matthew was was gay. That same year a Black man by the name of James Byrd Jr was dragged behind a pick up truck by white supremacists and dismembered during the hateful episode. He too was mercilessly murdered.
Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal church, preached the sermon to honor Matthew on Friday and he asked us to remember James.
Matthew’s parents did not bury him in Laramie out of concern for the possible desecration of their son’s grave. There is reason to believe that in our time there are those who might do such a thing. They wanted their son to Rest In Peace. In his young life, Matthew found acceptance in the local Episcopal Church, while others rejected him. And so today he rests in the Cathedral crypt.
In 2003 David Bresnahan and I attended the Consecration of Gene Robinson when he became the Bishop of New Hampshire. We were met by folks from Westboro “Baptist” Church and others who displayed signs that said; “God hates gays”. Really! Does God hate? The Scripture says: “God is Love.” Gene Robinson had to wear a bullet proof vest during his consecration. There was heavy security present. Credible death threats had been made against Bishop Robinson.
In his sermon Friday, Bishop Robinson tearfully told Matthew’s family and the thousands gathered in a packed Cathedral;
“Rest in peace, Matthew.
You are safe now.
In the crypt of the National Cathedral, a young man rests in the arms of Jesus.
This week, thirteen bombs were delivered to citizens of these United States of America. Thankfully none of the devices detonated, and more thankfully still the individual alleged to be responsible was apprehended by the authorities.
Yesterday someone killed eleven worshippers and wounded four police officers in a Pittsburg Synagogue. That man was heavily armed and was also apprehended.
And so it goes. The tiresome chronicle of hate crimes continues in our land. There is no room for hate in our political or religious life. From the highest office in the land on down such acts of violence have been condemned as having no place in public life.
Jesus goes one better; There is no room for hate in any human heart.
Harboring hatred, takes a heavy toll in the human soul. Much like the old Buddhist maxim; “Holding on to hate is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Like the blindness of Bartimaeus, hatred blinds us and leaves us impoverished. At least Bartimaeus was honest about it. He knew he was a blind beggar and still he called out; “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”
He was told to shush!
He cried out even more loudly.
“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”
So Jesus called him forward.
He threw “off his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus. “Rabbi, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.”
You will notice the love of Jesus. While the others wanted the blind beggar to shush himself, Jesus wanted him to speak up. This is true for all the sick, the lame, the lepers, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, outcasts of all sorts. This is true for Matthew Sheppard, James Byrd Jr., and for Jews who worship in a Holy Place. The blindness of those who hate is no match for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus, a Jew to his dying day, had no weapons, nothing whatsoever to defend himself; nor did his disciples. He was at their mercy. We are all at the mercy of what hatred can do. But Jesus points us to another mercy; the mercy of God. For Jesus, this is protection enough.
The Collect of the Day reminds us; “Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, make us love what you command.”
How about that? How about a change of heart? The harboring of hate in the human heart is destroying us.
The ancient Christian greeting from the heart of Jesus is at the heart of every Eucharist: “Peace be with you”.
The ancient Jewish greeting to friend and stranger alike is the same; “Shalom”
And the ancient Muslim greeting is likewise; “Salaam”.
What part of our ancient shared faith, hope and charity are we missing anyway?
The very name “Jerusalem” means; “Foundation of Peace”.
And yet look what hatred makes of it!
I am reminded of the old Native American proverb;
“What if I told you that the left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird.”
Or the Hindu maxim:
"There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn't matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.”
Or simpler still, Jesus; “Love your enemies.”
Too much anger!
Too much fear and paranoia!
To much hatred!
And what does Jesus require?
Love one another.
The hinge of all history turns on our renunciation of hatred and our turning to love.
Dying to sin, we live again.
It is all about our Baptism.
In the ancient church, at the Great Vigil of Easter, at dawn, the candidates for Baptism would face west into the darkness and renounce the forces of evil. They were baptized, clothed in white albs, faced East to the rising of the sun!
“Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?”
There it is; the burning question for this and every age.
Do you renounce Satan and all the forces of evil which seek to destroy the creatures of God?
Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
Matthew you are safe today in the crypt of the National Cathedral.
No harm can come to you now.
You are in the arms of Jesus who loves you and gave his life for you.
James Byrd Jr. You are safe today in the Savior’s arms.
And sisters and brothers of every Synagogue and Temple in America; you too are in God’s hands. As the Hebrew Scripture we all share reminds us; “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me!” ~Psalm 23:1
This is how our Presiding Bishop puts it; “Come and be part of the Jesus movement!”
Finally there is this. Every Thursday night here at Trinity during our healing Eucharist, our custom is to remember the Saints of the Church, those we read of throughout history who have taught us of the love of Jesus.
Let me suggest this; let us go on record from this place and all across this church of ours;
“Be it Resolved that The Episcopal Church set aside a day in the Christian Year as Matthew Sheppard and James Byrd Jr Day in honor of all victims of hate.
Be it further resolved that we love one another as God loves us.”
In the Name of God; The Most Holy, Undivided and Everlasting Trinity.