Episcopalians Respond to Hate and Violence in Charlottesville

 In Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe, Featured, News

image above: In Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017, bishops and clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia stand together with the Charlottesville Clergy Collective (CCC), in opposition to the so-called “Unite the Right” rally. The clergy were there to bear visible witness to the entirety of the beloved community in which people of all races are equal. Photo by Aisha Huertas for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Episcopalians in Central New York and throughout the United States are speaking out and standing up for human dignity after the deadly racist, anti-Semetic protests in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12th. Below is a sampling of our Church’s response through social media posts and sermons and letters, as well as appropriate prayers for your use.

 


The Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, asks: “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?”

Read a transcript of this video message.

Presiding Bishop Curry reads A Prayer for the Human Family:

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human…

Posted by The Episcopal Church on Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe, Bishop of Central New York, issued a statement reminding our communities that “hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, and the dehumanization of others have no place in our common life” and spoke on Facebook of the need for hard conversations and faithfulness to the God of love:

Have you talked about racism today? If not, why not? Each of us is part of what is happening in C-Ville, Virginia today….

Posted by DeDe Duncan-Probe on Saturday, August 12, 2017

Let us beware of false eqiuvalence and fearful responses. Let us proclaim a message of good news, of God’s eternal love…

Posted by DeDe Duncan-Probe on Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Rev. Brooks Cato, Rector of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Hamilton, New York, urges us to speak out, and not to “miss the hate in our own backyards:”

Lord, have mercy.
There’s a whole lot going on down in Charlottesville. There’s a whole lot of hate and fear and…

Posted by Brooks Cato on Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Rev. Becky Coerper, Rector of St. James’ Church in Skaneateles, New York, speaks to her congregation on Sunday:

#charlottsville We are called to pray and act to confront racism and violence.

Posted by Chuck Stewart on Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Rev. Holly Evans, Rector of Grace Church in Copenhagen, New York, writes:

“At the end of our Prayers of the People yesterday, one of our young people, Peyton W., a ninth grader, stood in the congregation and in a clear, confident voice, read the prayer for our nation from the prayer book…I think the addition to our prayers from a young person made the point that we need to work together to be the best nation we be.”

Sermons & Letters

In the Wake of Charlottesville

Sermon for Proper 14: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 & Matthew 14:22-33
The Rev. Brooks Cato
August 13, 2017 at St. Thomas’ Church, Hamilton, New York

But what happens if all people of goodwill go home?

As an Episcopal preacher, I doubt that I’m alone this morning in saying that, up until yesterday, I was happy with the sermon I’d prepared for today. And then yesterday happened, and what I’d written on Peter walking across the raging sea no longer seemed to matter. Maybe another time. But not today.

What I’m about to tell you, many of you have heard before, but I want you to know this. I grew up in a small town in north-central Arkansas called Harrison. If you’ve ever seen the movie Winter’s Bone, you’ve seen where I grew up, or near enough not to make any difference. Our biggest export is most likely Tyson chickens, but a close second is methamphetamine. It’s home to around 10,000 people and 78 churches. The current makeup of the town is considerably more diverse than when I was growing up, but that’s not saying much. Harrison is still over 96% white. African-Americans make up less than one third of one percent of people there, and that’s no accident. You see, Harrison used to be known as a “Sundown Town.” That is, if you weren’t white, you better not be caught in town after the sun goes down. Just over a hundred years ago, this was part of the plan. In 1905 and 1909, Harrison was marred by race riots. A black man was killed, and the threat of lynching was very real. Just down the road, in Phillips County, Arkansas, over 230 black men were lynched in one year. Harrison’s demographic makeup was by design. Just outside of town, one of those many churches is run by the Grand Dragon of the KKK. It absolutely sickens me that he gets to put the word “pastor” before his name and that his compound with armed men gets to call itself a “church.” This is where I grew up: with him and many like him nearby; with very few people of color allowed; with, no joke, billboards on the outskirts of town that claim Harrison as sacred ground for whites only. But it wasn’t always so overt. Let me give you an example of how this place snuck the brand into everyday life. A creek runs through the middle of town, and every year we’d have a little festival with games and good food and all sorts of supposedly wholesome family fun. They playfully misspelled words, and as a kid I just thought it was kind of kooky and neat: “Krooked Kreek Krawdad Days”, with three big, capital Ks. I’ve been spat at by a man holding a Confederate flag, and I’ve feared for my family’s safety just by driving into town and standing up for what is right. Just about this time last year, as Becca, one of my sisters, and I left town, I watched my rearview mirror for pickup trucks and angry faces until I made it 30 miles outside of the county. I promise you, with every fiber of my being, that this is far from hyperbole. This is real. But up until yesterday, I got to pretend like I’d left that bigotry fading farther behind in my rearview mirror.

Actually, I’m guessing most white people in America have had that feeling. Maybe we marched somewhere or wrote a brave Facebook post, and we watched the hate fade in our wake. As a country, we did this. The Civil Rights Movement was extraordinary and deeply successful in many ways. But we somehow imagined that we’d fixed racism outright, and we let the voices of James Baldwin and Malcolm X, of Medger Evers and Martin Luther King, we let them fade, too. But we didn’t just let them fade, did we? No, many of them didn’t fade. Many of them were stopped short by white men with white fears and white anger, man killing man’s own brother.

As Virginia reeled and I sat down to write today’s sermon for the second time, I saw something I’d missed before. It’s Joseph’s brothers and the plot to kill their technicolor kin. They resented him, resented the love their father gave him, and said with words full of poison, “They said one to another, ‘behold, here cometh the Dreamer . . . let us slay him . . . and we shall see what becomes of his dreams.’” These same words are inscribed on a plaque at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, a heartbreaking bit of scripture sanctifying the balcony where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. “Behold. Here cometh the Dreamer. Let us slay him, and we shall see what becomes of his dreams.”

Y’all. Whatever we thought had faded back there somewhere, it did not go away. Too many people in this country know that and have known that for a very long time. People of color have known that, and people like me have missed it. Because I thought I could drive away from that hatred.

In our Baptismal Covenant, we promised together, no, we vowed together, “to renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God.” We vowed “to serve Christ in all persons.” And we vowed “to strive for justice.” That brash display of white supremacy marching through the streets of Virginia, make no mistake, that was evil. And that certainly was not Christian.

Christian was the line of clergy standing in prayerful silence with arms linked.

Christian was St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where a prayer vigil inside their own building went on disturbingly longer than anyone planned as fiery torches surrounded the property and police snuck worshippers out the side door and into safety.
Christian was the Dreamer, the Preacher, the Confused, the Frightened, and the Brave.

Christian is stepping bravely onto those raging seas with eyes on Christ, hoping that maybe this time, we can really get there.

But sometimes those raging waters are stronger than us. They threatened to be yesterday. After some particularly rough swells, the mayor of Charlottesville said, “I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will — go home.” Becca texted me, simply, “But what happens if all people of goodwill go home?” And that, I don’t know, but I think we got a glimpse yesterday of what could happen.

Christian may not be going home. Christian may be standing firmly on those waters, even if it means clinging to Christ to keep your head above the waves. Christian is being there for your brothers and sisters. Christian is risky and Christian is hard because Christian, Christian is love.

Behold. Here cometh the Dreamer. Let us see what becomes of his dreams!

Behold. Here cometh the Dreamer.

Behold.

 

Letter After Charlottesville

Sent to the people of Grace Church in Utica on August 14, 2017
The Rev. Georgina Hegney

We must choose love.

Dear People of Grace Church,

Words fail me. My heart is broken over the events of this past weekend. It is not who we are called to be, either as a nation, or as Christians. We are, each of us, created in the image of God.

If we are to follow Jesus, if we seek to embody his teaching, we must choose love. We are called to respond with love, even with those who seemingly breathe hate into God’s creation. In this way we are able to spread the Good News of God in Christ.

Let us recall our baptismal covenant.

  • Persevere in resisting evil – do not respond in kind…
  • Love your neighbor as yourself – love even the ones whom you are at odds with, those who most challenge you…
  • Strive for justice and peace, respect the dignity of every human being – every human being, reach out with an ever widening embrace of love…

And let us pray, with open hearts and open minds.

Almighty God, who created us in your own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer p. 260)

In God’s peace,

Georgina Hegney

 

Responding to Racism and Violence

Originally published in the September issue of The Spirit, the newsletter of St. James’ Church, Skaneateles
The Rev. Deacon Charles Stewart

The question before us – before me – is what to do today?

I’m writing on Sunday afternoon, August 13. The government of North Korea has been a challenge for decades; five days ago the rhetoric took on a potentially more violent tone. White supremacists have existed for centuries; yesterday three people died in Virginia because of their actions.

These short articles are difficult to write for several reasons, but particularly because they are not published for two or three weeks and may not be read for a month. When I write on a subject of current importance I don’t know what will happen by the time of publication, or even what will happen tomorrow.

The question before us – before me – is what to do today? We read in today’s Gospel (Matthew 14:22-33) that Jesus made the disciples get into a boat; The Message translates the phrase as “he insisted that the disciples get in the boat.” Does Jesus often insist that we do something? I think so. I also know that I am skilled at ignoring Him.

I look at the pictures of the march in Charlottesville on Friday night and I see men who look like men with whom I went to high school and college. But I am appalled and heartbroken that people who look like me and talk like me can say such racist, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant things about people who don’t look like me or talk like me. The violence that occurred on Saturday because of the actions of the white supremacists is beyond heartbreaking.

The question before me is what to do today? I will pray for the three innocent people who died, and for their families, and for all non-violent protesters who were injured. I will also pray for the perpetrator that he might have the hatred he holds in his heart taken away.

And, unusually for me, I will go to the Rally/Vigil for Charlottesville at Clinton Square later this afternoon. I very seldom attend rallies but this I must do today. We must – I must – speak out against racism and violence.

I will close with a quote from Howard Thurman, mentor to The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a graduate of my seminary in Rochester. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I trust in today’s Gospel in which Jesus said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

“Keep alive the dream; for as long as a man [sic.] has a dream in his heart, he cannot lose the significance of living.”
― Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart

 

Remembering Jonathan Daniels

This is not the time to be silent.

The Rev. Elizabeth Ewing, Rector of Christ Church in Binghamton, writes:

Tuesday, August 15, Christ Episcopal Church in Binghamton held at Eucharist to honor Saint Mary and [civil rights martyr and Episcopal seminarian] Saint Jonathan Myrick Daniels, to pray for the incidents in Charlottesville, and to be strengthened in our work to seek justice and peace and counter white supremacism and all forms of racism.

I preached, in sum, that Jonathan Daniels was inspired by singing the Magnificat to go forth with his journey South and to work to register voters and seek civil rights for black people. In the end his work to counter violence and injustice cost him his life. May we today be inspired by St. Mary the Virgin who bore Jesus Christ and companions us in bringing forth Christ’s radical love in this world to exalt the lowly and feed the hungry.

May we follow the faithful discipleship of Jonathan Daniels in showing up, speaking up, and faithfully protecting those whom white supremacists hate: any person who looks non-white, Jews, those identifying as LGBTQ, and women. This is not the time to be silent or sit back but to make known the commandment to love God and neighbor—ongoing work—strengthened in prayer, scripture, Mary and Jonathan.

 

Christians Are Called to Respond

Sermon for Proper 15: Genesis 45:1-15, Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 & Matthew 15:10-28
The Rev. Dr. Dena-Cleaver-Bartholomew
August 20, 2017 at Christ Church in Manlius, New York

The question before us is not whether we are to respond to the hatred and racism we see both around us and within us, but how.

With all that is wrong in the world we sometimes wonder if, where, and how we might see God at work in any of it.  Today’s readings each begin with what are difficult, painful, and personal situations.  All of them involved suffering and none of them looks as though it is headed for a positive outcome.  Yet, in each one, there is a twist that brings unexpected forgiveness, hope, or a new perspective.  One thing that seems to surprise people about the Bible is that the negative stuff is not edited out.  Instead we read of real life suffering, bad behavior, nasty attitudes, mean spiritedness, and exclusion. Such biblical realism is good because we wrestle with these things ourselves.  We also hear of how God is at work in our lives, often in ways we do not see until we look at the big picture, when something significant shifts in perspective. The Bible helps us learn that transformation is an ongoing process, as Paul describes in his Letter to the Romans:  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

In the Old Testament lesson Joseph, the favorite son of the favorite wife of Jacob, who is given the gift of dreams from God, finds himself enduring years of slavery followed by prison in Egypt.  Why?  In part because he was arrogant and spoiled and his parents treated him far better than his jealous, resentful brothers, so they decided to leave him trapped in a pit and tell mom and dad he had been killed by a wild animal.  Joseph matures over time and eventually become Pharaoh’s number one advisor thanks to his gift of interpreting dreams and his ability to plan wisely.  Joseph’s compassion and wisdom are tested when the famine he interpreted from Pharaoh’s dreams brings his brothers to Egypt looking for food.  He lays a trap, making it look as if they stole from him and forcing them to go home and get his youngest brother Benjamin.  It is not clear what Joseph has in mind.  Is it revenge?  Is it to see if they have changed as he has?  Imagine their dismay when the second most powerful man in Egypt reveals himself to be the half brother they left for dead. But rather than revenge, Joseph chooses forgiveness. Joseph no longer blames them for his enslavement in Egypt.  Instead he sees God’s hand at work to save his entire family and all of Egypt from the famine.  What he wants is to be restored to his family and to save them.  Joseph is indeed a changed man with a new perspective. At last he sees God in his dreams and in his life.

In the Epistle we have Paul, originally Saul the zealous Pharisee.  Even as he rejoices to write about the salvation of God offered through Jesus Christ, he does not want the Jewish people he still loves and identifies with to be cut off from God.  So he asks the hard question:  If the Jewish people reject Jesus, will God reject them?  The answer is no, as Paul makes clear, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”  Our disobedience does not limit God’s mercy.  Yes, we are to respond as faithfully as possible, but we do not earn our salvation.  Being eternally claimed by God is a gift of mercy, not a product of our own efforts.

Finally, in the Gospel we have a pagan woman pestering Jesus and the disciples, asking for healing for her daughter.  At first Jesus ignores her. Then he pointedly says:  “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  In this version of the Gospel, written for a Jewish audience, Jesus gives voice to the expectation that the Messiah, the Son of King David, would come to save the Jewish people.  Yet it is the Three Wise Men and then this Canaanite woman, none of whom are Jewish, who first kneel before Jesus as a king and call him Son of David.  Jesus then responds by calling her a dog.  We have a word for calling a woman a dog in our culture too, and polite people don’t usually use it.  But this woman doesn’t flinch.  She may not be a child of the house of Israel, but she will accept being the family dog if it means that she belongs enough for her child to be healed.  Her response, her willingness to take whatever metaphorical crumbs Jesus might toss her way so that her daughter might be made whole, causes Jesus to do something we seldom think is possible:  change his mind.  Like Moses petitioning God on behalf of the badly behaved Israelites when God planned to wipe them out, and like Abraham bargaining with God to save the righteous who might be in Sodom and Gomorrah when God planned to destroy those two cities, this woman pled on behalf of her daughter.  In each case, God changed God’s mind and showed mercy.  This particular story is of unique interest to us because this Canaanite woman’s faith turns the whole Gospel narrative in a new direction.  This is the same Gospel that now ends with the Great Commission for Jesus’ disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Because of her faith Jesus widened his embrace to include us all.

In each of these readings the elements of the story hinge on a change that happens within one of the main characters, a change in perspective that alters the trajectory of relationships for generations and perhaps an eternity to come.  As author and contemplative Richard Rohr says, You change sides from insidefrom the power position to the position of vulnerability and solidarity, which gradually changes everything.”  Joseph could use his power to punish his brothers; instead he chooses mercy and compassion.  Paul could claim that God will reject the Jewish people who do not follow Jesus, as he has come to do; instead he trusts that God will show mercy despite all of our failings.  Jesus could have maintained a strict and narrow vision of God’s people and save only those who are Jewish; instead he changed his mind to see the Canaanite woman and all of us as God’s children too.

This past week we have seen a surge of visible hatred in our country that has taken many of us by surprise.  We are not so much surprised by the fact that hatred exists, for we all know that. It is the depth, the breadth, and virulence of this hatred that has taken us aback.  How are we to respond when we see white supremacists marching? When members of the Ku Klux Klan – which identifies itself as a Christian group – feel accepted enough to no longer even need a hood? When there is a resurgence of neo-Nazis, who idolize Adolf Hitler and hate Jewish people?  Many of us look at the television coverage and assume that this doesn’t represent us; that such hatred couldn’t happen here; and that the best response to rallies and inflammatory rhetoric is to ignore it.  The problem is that like the Canaanite woman encountering a silent Jesus, it sends the signal that it is okay if those who are in need of our affirmative response suffer because of our silence.  As Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.”  And when we say that this isn’t our issue, we uphold the narrow vision of God’s love and mercy that is to be shared with all our sisters and brothers.

We are able to claim God’s love and mercy because a Middle Eastern Jewish rabbi went beyond what was expected, acceptable, or politically and religiously wise, beginning with a woman from an ethnic group his people despised.  Like the ripples in a pond, Jesus’ change of heart and behavior, beginning with his response to this Canaanite woman, led to both his death on the cross and our invitation to eternal life.  Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him.  He also calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  The question before us is not whether we are to respond to the hatred and racism we see both around us and within us, but how.  Not everyone is going to attend a rally, march in a demonstration, or write a letter to the editor of the local paper.  But every Christian should be prayerfully pondering how God might be calling us to respond in faith and be willing to follow where God leads.

Amen.

 

Calling Out the Demon: Why Canaanite Lives Matter

Sermon for Proper 15: Genesis 45:1-15, Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 & Matthew 15:10-28
The Rev. Jeanne Hansknecht
August 20, 2017 at St. Peter’s Church in Cazenovia, New York

Audio available.

Call the demon out in love as Christ loved us but: Call. It. Out.

Last summer when my daughter and I were in London, we had dinner at a pub. It was an establishment not unlike the Empire Brewery here in town in that it was very busy and noisy and you had to place your food order at the bar. So I go up to the bar and I get caught behind customers putting away their wallets and collecting their drinks. The bartender however has moved on even though the customers had not moved over and he’s making eye contact with me
wanting to take my order. But I wait until I could get closer. When I do, I apologize to him saying, “Sorry to keep you waiting, I didn’t want to shout.” Then a man sitting at the bar right next to me, turns and says, “You just restored my faith in womankind.” I turned to look at him and I made this face: if you cannot see the details of my face from where you are sitting, it is a look that says, “I am confused by your comment. Please stop talking to me.” He then offered me this explanation: “You said you didn’t want to shout.” My response to him: “I do now!”

Do. Not. Silence. Me. Women have cause to shout–especially when it is about the health and safety of their children. “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon!” the Canaanite woman cried.

“Oh will you just shut up and let us finish!” the disciples lashed out at her in frustration as if they were a former attorney general from Virginia speaking to an African American female political commentator on CNN. “God! Make the woman stop! We can’t stand the shouting!”

So Jesus does briefly address her, “Look, I came for the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” Which roughly translates to “Go home.” But she will not be silenced. She will not be ignored. She will not go home. Instead, the Canaanite woman goes from using her voice to using her body in an example of non-violent protest. She throws herself at the feet of the Messiah, blocking his path, and says simply, “Lord, help me.”

Help me. What an incredibly courageous thing to say. To understand the courage of her behavior you need to know that women were not allowed to be their own advocates, not even on behalf of their children, they required a male surrogate to advocate on their behalf.

In Luke’s Gospel it was Jairus, the father, who went to Jesus on behalf of his daughter–not the mother. In that same chapter a hemorrhaging woman literally took healthcare into her own hands by touching Jesus’ robes. She stole healing, she did not ask for it. She spoke up, or confessed, only reluctantly after Jesus noticed what had happened. Women of the day required male advocates. They were silenced in that regard. But not the Canaanite woman, she would not be silenced. And she uses her voice for something even more astounding: she uses it to change God’s mind. You see, she argues with Jesus. This was a big deal. This is STILL a big deal because the man I briefly
interacted with at the London pub is still controlling women’s narratives in subtle and not so subtle ways, “Isn’t that just like a woman?” I can hear him say, “They’ll argue with anyone just to hear themselves talk.”

Maybe he’s right. Maybe that’s true and if it is, then it is a truth I want to follow because here’s the thing about the Canaanite woman, in her persistence, she, a woman, a foreign, other looking woman, did what only one woman before her was able to do: “she became the vessel for reminding Jesus about why he was here.”

The other woman, by the way, was Jesus’ mother, Mary– a woman of few words in the gospels, but always present. If you recall from John’s Gospel, Mary is the one who pushes her son into public ministry at a wedding where he reluctantly changes water into wine.

So yes, this text is good news for women everywhere, but there is even more going on here, something deeper and more comprehensive. This brave woman makes a case for why Canaanite lives matter. The Bible doesn’t specifically address the sin of racism but there are plenty of examples of addressing bigotry, exploitation, and segregation throughout the pages of our sacred text and this story is one of those examples. There is a message for us in it.

The Canaanite woman acknowledges right away that she is not one of the chosen people of Israel. We know this because she addresses Jesus as the son of David. This is important not just to clarify that she knows Jesus is a Jew but because in Matthew’s Gospel, bloodline is important. David wasn’t just a Jew, he was a King and Jesus was a direct descendent. That’s how the gospel begins, with “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

Jesus’ heritage was pretty important in legitimizing his ministry–at least to Matthew and Jesus came for the lost sheep of the House of Israel. That’s it. Period. The Canaanite woman knew that, she knew her place, but nevertheless had the audacity (Jesus calls it faith by the way. I just want to put that out there) she had the audacity to suggest that, despite the counter chant to her mantra that Canaanite lives matter, all lives don’t really matter if the dominant system and culture either refuses or makes it incredibly difficult to receive healthcare (or food, or housing, or education, or jobs, or safety) for a child solely based on the circumstances of her birth, or the color of her skin. “If a system supports that kind of discrimination, the kind that leads to disproportionate death, then a change needs to be made in the system.” That’s what the Canaanite woman arguing.

And I can understand the disciples’ frustration with the woman. What she said was a tough message to hear. After all, their own people needed healing too. Wouldn’t healing her take something away from them? What if there isn’t enough? It wasn’t like most Jews were living large under the Roman occupation. They’re just struggling too. The disciples are concerned and they question: “How did this woman’s daughter become their fault?!” Well, it wasn’t their fault but what happens to her and her daughter is their responsibility–precisely because they were from the House of Israel—because of their privilege and upbringing as the chosen people since the days of Abraham, since forever. She pointed out to Jesus that what happens when people are generous is that generosity overflows–and even the dogs benefit.

Grace, mercy, love, human rights cannot be contained to a single group of people. Israel is too good, too kind, and too righteous for that and God is too merciful. Jesus heard the woman and changed his mind. Let me repeat that: Jesus heard the woman and changed his mind. God listened and God responded by changing the expectations—by opening the gates of salvation for everyone. And thanks be to God that he did, because had he not, most of us would not be worshiping here this morning. Jesus would not have lived, taught, and died for us. We would not share in his resurrection. You see, unless you are a descendent of David, you are a descendent of the Canaanite woman and her
courage to stand up to the demon on behalf of her daughter is blessing us to this day. Generosity knows no limits, not even that of time.

I want you to remember that. The Canaanite woman blessed us. That’s the take home message. Remember her courage and faith and draw from her strength because we are going to need it in the hours and days ahead so that we can bless others. As with Jesus, the course is not set. We can change the narrative by being the Church and living in love. No excuses. Not anymore. If the Canaanite woman can call out Jesus on his behavior, if she can call out God, for being too focused on a single group of people, we can certainly call out other “Christians” and other countrymen and women who participate in, make excuses for, or who are staying silent about the sin of white supremacy on our streets, in the workplace, in our homes, and in our hearts.

Racism is the demon possessing our beloved country and it doesn’t just affect society in a vague general way; it affects each of us personally and deeply. It poisons our souls. So cry out, “Lord have mercy and help us” because we are in urgent need of healing. We need to call out that demon for our children. We need to shout. We need to get good and loud and annoying. And when we are told to go away, we may very well need to put our bodies in front of that demon in non-violent protest: kneeling, standing, sitting, petitioning, boycotting, voting, marching,
singing, praying, confessing, forgiving, and reconciling. Call the demon out in love as Christ loved us but: Call. It. Out. When we do, Jesus will answer us with the same words he said to the Canaanite woman, “… Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And we will be healed instantly. May it be so.

Pray with the Church

Prayer of Remembrance for Jonathan Daniels
Episcopal seminarian and civil rights martyr Jonathan Daniels is remembered on August 14th.

O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: We give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer for Social Justice

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the people of this land], that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for Our Nation

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the Human Family

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer in Times of Conflict

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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