In Scene IV of Act I, Hamlet and his colleagues are struggling to understand what appears to be the dead King and father of Hamlet. It is an apparition that waves to Hamlet and seems to want to speak with him. Against the advice of his colleagues guarding the wall that evening, Hamlet goes to the apparition. Marcellus, a friend and guard, says what is obvious, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Democracy in the United States of America in 2016 is rotten. A neo-fascist movement is afoot in our country, rotting with sordid ideologies of misogyny and racism. It is one thing to have such citizens in a country as large as ours. It is another to have a major political party embrace a candidate for President who not only is unapologetic but stokes these ideologies like a scout stoking a bonfire.
Our history, however, is more than adequate to illustrate that these kinds of persons have been here for a very long time and—though the process has been sometimes too slow and an ordeal—we have overcome them. The way we overcome them is to speak up when the time demands that we speak. To remain silent is to be a conspirator with what is cheap and tawdry and sometimes wicked in us. You must speak with your vote. Too many have died and suffered to provide this right and privilege. Exercise your right to vote then and let us be on our way to exorcising ghosts and fiends.
There will never be a perfect candidate. We will always have to make choices that sift and sort through the flaws of people. Not to vote is a silk glove for tyranny’s fist. Christian citizenship is not about electing a Christian or a minister. Instead, it is about living honorably and doing our best to fulfill the promises and responsibilities of our constitution. After you vote, perhaps even as you vote, you might whisper to yourself Jesus’ teaching “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” You belong ultimately to the Kingdom of God. Live honorably in this moment and be assured that if the world is dishonorable, your destiny rests in the the nobility and honor of the Prince of Peace.
~See you Sunday
Order the flags at half-staff, Mr. President. Not just for Sam DuBose, executed by a University of Cincinnati police officer and then supported in lies by fellow officers, but for our nation. We are lost.
Even when an officer’s body camera shows us his execution of an unarmed Black man, an entire chorus of White folk rush to defend the murderer. Perhaps this is simply the real world where governments arm agents who in turn kill citizens and then pronounce in Orwellian-speak their lies for why they had to do it. Okay. So we have a government and tens of thousands of local governments that arm their deputies and a substantial number of White Americans will never indict or convict an officer who claims to murder in the name of God, safety and country. Wickedness is pervasive. But Christians and other persons of faith and good will ought to raise their voices in times like these and demand an account and justice. This too is apparently too much to ask or conceive as a possibility. At least quit singing “God bless America” at your stadiums.
Guns are a scourge in this nation. Wielded by officers, brigands, gang members and children who find them unlocked in their parent’s bedroom, we are reaping a whirlwind. It is particularly heinous, however, when an agent of the government charged with keeping the peace and protecting all of us, murders a citizen. African-American men are 21 times more likely to lose their lives at the hands of police than their white counterparts, according to Attorney and President of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks. I pray that the Church might find its voice and say “enough.” Let us say then and not tire of saying it, Justice! Justice for Sam Dubose.
Shame, shame, shame on the complicit, the silent and the perpetrators.
Our “Gates of Praise” ended this past Sunday morning with our linking hands and singing that great Civil Rights song, “We Shall Overcome.” Now it is fine for us to remember and affectionately recall those countless thousands–most of whom will forever be unnamed–who fought and overcame segregation, lynching, Jim Crow and the murderous context of racism in America. We sang for them, in honor of them and certainly in honor of the Preacher King. But that is insufficient for realizing the Dream. It is our turn to work for the actualization of that dream in our generation.
Rev. King drank from the chalice of Christ’s love and covenant of hope. He carried the cross because as he himself stated it, the cross precedes our wearing of a crown. This holiday, this holy-day, let us covenant again with one another to love God and neighbor, to pray for our persecutors and non-violently but courageously resist evil.
As I said today in my sermon, you and I have a remarkable opportunity to actualize the Beloved Community by our participation in this brave church. You may wonder at times if there is progress; you might consider that your life has not amounted to enough; but beloved, there is nothing quite as important or exhilirating as being in this congregation of inclusion! Let us not grow weary of well-doing. This is YOUR church. This is OUR time. With King, let us drink from the chalice and carry the cross.