DATE: 5 July 2015

TO: Manantial de Gracia

TITLE: “Freedom Comes After…Struggle!”   

Psalm 123: 1-4 (GW)

1-I look up to you, to the one who sits enthroned in heaven.

2-As servants depend on their masters, as a maid depends on her mistress, so we depend on the Lord our God until he has pity on us.

3-Have pity on us, O Lord. Have pity on us because we have suffered more than our share of contempt.

4-We have suffered more than our share of ridicule from those who are carefree. We have suffered more than our share of contempt from those who are arrogant.

InhaleExhale
“Freedom Comes After…Struggle!”

Happy Sunday church!! It has been a while since I was last with you. And today I am glad to be with you once more after such a long time away. We will have renewed opportunities to talk about what I have learned and where I have been, but today I will just say thank you for welcoming me back amongst you

Fires…How Long, Oh God?

According to the Liturgical calendar, today is a common day. If we walked into most traditional churches today, the church would be dressed up in green as we continue a period of “normalcy.” It is a typical day in church. There is nothing seasonally going on that needs to be acknowledged. All is as it should be! ¿But is that really true

Let me start by saying that I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around our current reality. It seems inconceivable that today is a day like any other when we consider that this year we have been made more aware than ever of an epidemic on black and brown lives. For all of it’s normalcy, it is as though we have stepped into Dr. Who’s Tardis and landed back on planet Earth in the Segregated South…

It feels like it should be highly unlikely, but since the murder of:
Depayne Middleton Doctor

Cynthia Hurd

Susie Jackson

Ethel Lance

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Tywanza Sanders

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Simmons Sr.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Rev. Myra Thompson
of Emanuel AME Church of Charleston, SC there have been a number of questionable fires set in churches whose members are of African American descent:
June 22- College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church, Knoxville, Tennessee

June 23- God’s Power Church of Christ, Macon, Georgia

June 24- Briar Creek Baptist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina

June 24- Fruitland Presbyterian Church, Gibson County, Tennessee

June 26- Greater Miracle Temple Church, Tallahassee, Florida

June 26- Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Warrenville, South Carolina

June 30- Mount Zion AME Church, Greeleyville, South Carolina
But that is in addition to the fires in Tenessee earlier in the year at:

Amazing Grace Fellowship Church, April 30

Little Rock Baptist Church, April 6

Trinity Methodist Church, January 7

Spring Hill Baptist Church, January 7 (attempted break-in)

Cowbow Church, January 7
And each of these incidents has been met with the reminders:

“the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime…the incident appears to be vandalism.”

“the fire was ruled an arson, though police are not calling it a hate crime.”

“Agents said they took pictures and samples from the scene and plan to canvass the neighborhood.”
And so I like many of us, have been left looking back at the Psalms as I ask… How Long Lord?
Psalm 13 has been welling up inside of me:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget [us] forever?

How long will you hide your face from [us]?

How long must [we] make decisions alone with sorrow in [our] hearts day after day?

How long will [our] enem[ies] triumph over [us]?

Look at me! Answer me, O Lord my God!

[Look at us! Answer us, O Lord our God!]
Firecrackers…The Cry of the Free

According to the American calendar, this weekend is not a common weekend. It is everything and anything but typical.  
Many of us have sat in backyards and grilled. Or sat in the dark and watched the sky burst open with colors bursting forth one on top of the other. Watching the firecrackers burst in the air, as the cry of the free.
The fourth of July. Most of us have forgotten the very purpose of the celebration… but here goes.  
This weekend, America has been celebrating it’s Independence Day, the day that the USA declared itself free from the sovereign control of Great Britain, officially adopting the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
But it was not meant for all of us.  
Those words which declared independence left some of us excluded…, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Those words excluded most of us… in this room we would not have received our “inalienable rights” yesterday… we would have remained in the same oppressive system that we had already come to accept as the norm.  
I told you that I was left grappling with the Psalms, and today’s Psalm, Psalm 123 has become my plea:

I look up to you, to the one who sits enthroned in heaven.

As servants depend on their masters, as a maid depends on her mistress, so we depend on the Lord our God until he has pity on us.

Have pity on us, O Lord. Have pity on us because we have suffered more than our share of contempt.

We have suffered more than our share of ridicule from those who are carefree. We have suffered more than our share of contempt from those who are arrogant.
You know, today’s reflection is titled, “Freedom Comes After…Struggle!” But Freedom does not come by way of a stamp. Shinny and red that sits between trees in a Park. Freedom does not come from a man, who chooses to suffocate our base desires rather than call us human. Freedom does not come from a system of government, which was not originally meant to include us…
Freedom comes from God. It is not easy. It is not smooth. It is not weak. It is not tepid. Freedom is an attainable goal that we can aspire towards.  
Breathing out the oppression that clouds us.  

Breathing in renewed strength.  

Breathing out the filth we have been told about our selves.

Breathing in God’s love.

Breathing out the systems that exclude us.

Breathing in God’s mercy.

Breathing out history’s filth and exclusion.

Breathing in God’s peace.

Breathing out indignation .

Breathing in God’s righteousness.

Breathing out disgust.

Breathing in faith.

Breathing out anger.

Breathing in hope…

Amen!

Sacrament of Holy Communion
Invitation

All are welcome at this table, free to partake. In this church, we believe in extragant welcome…no one is denied access to God’s grace. If you feel called to be with us, consider yourself invited and loved. Free to share in this meal with us!
You are welcome, Invited, you are family and friend…beloved by His grace. By God’s forgivess. And most of all you are invited because just as you are YOU ARE LOVED.
All are invited to share in God’s grace. 

Here it is, a common table. Here it is a sacramental table.

Where no one is turned away. Where all God’s people have a place.

Here is the welcome God offered when God said let there be light, and there was light Here is the welcome God offered when God said let the waters beneath flow together so dry ground may appear.

Here, at this table is with God’s creation. When God looked over all God declared it good, saying, “it is good.”

We have been declared good. We have been deemed worthy.

Here is the Church, gathered in Christ’s name. 

Baptized in the Holy Spirit. And bound by love. Here we are, gathered by faith
Prayer of Confession

Let us pray in silent confession:

(Silent Prayer of Confession) …amen!
Words of Institution and Sharing of the Elements

And now, let us hear again the story of how this meal was first celebrated…On the night on which Jesus was betrayed, Jesus sat at supper with his disciples: students, friends, travel-mates, even one who would betray him…
While they were eating, he took a piece of bread, blessed it and gave it to them saying: 

“This is my body broken for you.” (BREAK THE BREAD) 

“Take and eat, in remembrance of me.” (DISTRIBUTION OF BREAD)
In the same way, Jesus took a chalice, filled it with wine and said, “This is my blood shed for you.” (PRESENT THE CHALICE)  

He passed it to all who were gathered saying, “Take and drink, of this cup, filled to overflowing by my love.” (DISTRIBUTION OF WINE) 
Prayer of Thanksgiving

Remain with us, O God. Make this feast the nourishment we need to grow more wild and wonderful. Graft us onto the vine of your Beloved so that we might grow more connected with you and all of creation. With this food and this drink, let us be the love that we have found in you and your Beloved. Amen.

Benediction:

Please remain seated through the Benediction and Postlude, and join us for a Time to Share and Care: 

As you leave this place:

May the Living God go with you,

Behind you, to encourage you,

Beside you, to befriend you,

Above you, to watch over you,

Beneath you, to lift you from your sorrows,

Within you, to give you the gifts of faith, hope, and love,

And always before you, to show you the way.

[And all in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit]

benediction – blair monie

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/29/1397665/-Six-black-churches-have-been-destroyed-by-fires-in-Southern-states-this-past-week#

http://www.ibtimes.com/black-churches-burning-african-american-congregation-leaders-concerned-wave-suspected-1992410

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