In his eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, President Barack Obama called on us to be more aware of all the ways that America has not kept its promise to so many of its citizens. Saying “black lives matter” is not enough.
He is right. The blood of Charleston’s martyrs challenges us to take up this cause and invest our lives in it, even if our families and friends do not agree, or appreciate or understand us.
In last Sunday’s Gospel lesson, we were told that Jesus went to his hometown, and, there, he began to teach the people. Perhaps he was teaching them to love their enemies. Perhaps he was teaching them to welcome the stranger to their houses of faith. Perhaps he was teaching them the way of grace and forgiveness. I don’t know what he was trying to teach his family and those in his hometown, but the third verse says, “They were repulsed by him.”
Jesus doesn’t seem at all surprised. He tells his disciples, and perhaps us too, that our prophetic words will be welcomed and honored everywhere but in our own hometowns and among our relatives. That cannot, however, be an excuse for NOT speaking truth. Notice Jesus didn’t avoid his home, nor did he avoid speaking truth that they found repulsive. Instead he sends his disciples out to do the same. Jesus tells them to travel light because, when we become so burdened and encumbered by things, possessions, or wealth, we have to be careful, cautious, and circumspect.
I have colleagues who dare not speak truth to power because they might lose their largest donor, or even be fired. Now, you might unsubscribe from Liberating Word for lots of things I write, but I doubt railing against racism is one of them. What might turn you off, though, is me insisting, as Jesus did, that you travel through this world lightly enough to be able to speak the truth without fear, even to those in your hometown.
Today’s Liberating Word is adapted from my sermon “Faith & Film: American Promise” from Sunday, July 5. If you would like to view the sermon in its entirety, please click HERE.
Rev. Michael Piazza