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For Sunday, August 20, 2017

Grace and peace be unto you from God our creator, Christ our savior and from the Holy Spirit, Amen

I have a temper, it’s a legacy of being both Irish and redheaded.  Over the years I have learned to manage it well and it very rarely get the better of me, but the events of the last few days put me over the top.  I know it’s not helpful and I most certainly know it’s not a faithful way to proclaim the Word of God.  So to help me I went searching for preachers wiser and calmer than I was, including Fr Don.

And now that some time has passed I realize that being angry is one way I handle anxiety and shame.  It is also my way of not feeling the pain and dissolving into tears.  It is also something I can do because I’m white.  It is a mark of white privilege to be righteously indigent.  And in my searching I came across a sermon from Pr Nadia Bolz-Weber laying out ways she has benefited from white privilege.  Those of us here who are white too have experienced the privileges of whiteness.

My parents had college educations, especially for my mother growing up in the 1930’s a rare thing.  But their education level meant they had more income and knowledge about what was necessary to go to college and so it was much more likely that I too would go to college.  This is white privilege.

My son had 4 DUI’s and he spent all of 4 days in jail, because he was white and I could afford attorneys.  This is white privilege.

When a police officer stops me, while I am always very anxious, and may end up with a ticket, I never worry that the officer will shot me.  This is white privilege.

Today’s gospel is one of the most painful in scripture and today one of the most timely.

Jesus, our beloved Jesus, reacts to a foreigner, a woman, someone with a different religion out of his privilege as one of the Chosen People, a leader sent only to the chosen people.  First, he ignores her cries and then he calls her a dog!

But she persisted,

with her pain filled, plea she asks to be seen and heard, recognized as another child of God.

And as a new awareness dawns, Jesus finally hears her, sees her and with this experience his mission is enlarged, broadened – not just the chosen people but all of God’s creation were included in his mission.  The experience with this persistent woman was critical for Jesus to learn something about himself and the totality of his ministry.

It is so easy for us to assume that God is on our side, favors us and our position, after all we are the chosen people and God even looks like us right?  A white male with a long beard.  Sadly through the miss-use of the bible it is also the belief of white supremacists in the name of a Christianity that I find unrecognizable and abhorrent.

It has also been easy for us to ignore the witness of our sisters and brothers of color… until now as we are forced to hear their persistent, unending plea.  How long have our sisters and brothers been crying out for “us” to hear them, see them?

The Canaanite woman speaks the truth to power.  Jesus finally hears her and her daughter is healed, freed from the bondage of torment.  Jesus calls her faith great.

Today silence is no longer an option, we too must speak the truth, to each other first, acknowledging our complicity and our privilege.  Then we must work to give up our privilege and speak to power, this is the task for white people.

We know God is an inclusive God, that God loves all people.  But knowing without speaking and acting is not enough today.

The law of the gospel tells us what we ought to do, but the gospel that is Jesus’ cross and resurrection, that is the unlimited grace poured upon us, gives us the courage and the will to stand with the Canaanites, the Jews, the Muslims, the people of color, all those the white supremacists, the white nationalists, the neo-Nazis would destroy, as they would destroy our world.  For hate can do nothing but destroy.

The love of God in Christ Jesus is the only power strong enough to free us from the bondage of hate.

Fr Don and I will leading a conversation “Why are people racist?” this Tuesday at 6:30, please come, bring friends, bring strangers!

Go, your faith has set you free.  Amen

Pastor Penni