We live, as Augustine wrote, in a culture that is in love with death. Endless war. Unceasing, really. And yet, there is no sign that the American people are tired of pouring their wealth into the production of more and more weapons. Endless violence. Unceasing, actually. Every day we have to read headlines (who reads articles in full now unless the acts of violence committed are so heinous and to such an outrageous degree that we’ll actually pause and ponder the magnitude of our gun-fixated culture?) and listen to news about people gunning one another down and children picking up guns and killing siblings and parents accidentally. And don’t forget suicides.
Last week I trekked to New York to go to the wake and funeral of the radical priest and peacemaker, Father Daniel Berrigan. I saw him in his shroud of white with red embroidered crosses, a small and nearly weightless man. He wore simple, black shoes. He owned little, if anything. Except this: his soul. And as Christ taught, a person could gain all the wealth in the world and lose their own soul. It is more than fair I would say to conclude that the heir apparent of the Republican Party is a soulless, wealthy man. Anyway, seeing Father Berrigan reminded me of seeing the sculpture of John Donne in his death shroud there in a corner of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Except I was not looking at stone but a corpse and not merely the corpse of a once great and saintly man but the corpse of the 1960s when people sang songs about peace and wrote that word on large banners. All of that is blowin’ in the wind.
Back to now. As you likely were, I was appalled by the auctioning of the murder gun of George Zimmerman who killed Treyvon Martin. Not only appalled by the wickedness like puss oozing from this man, but the complicity of those involved in actually conducting an auction. Shame, Shame, Shame!
Here’s the point I’m headed toward though. In the narrative of the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, we are inoculated against fear, wickedness and death. All of these elements are at play in that narrative. When we receive this pathogen, as it were, from the narrative of Christ’s life, we are inoculated from these pathogens in our present age. Let me put it yet another way. This month we dedicated a child who was adopted by his mothers, we baptized a special needs child dearly loved by his mother and father and we did all of that in a congregation and holy place that is so filled with hope and joy, that we are empowered to return to the world and heal it, repair it, and redeem it. I’m not sure why folks do not step into a sanctuary of peace. But some of us do and we invite you to join us.
In the world you have tribulation, Christ said. But take courage, I have overcome the world. Fearless. Joyful. ~See you Sunday