Color Uncoordinated

Proper 7A’20

21 June 2020

Matthew 10.24-39

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Facebook Live

North Little Rock, Arkansas

The Rev. Carey Stone

 

"Thy Kingdom come,

Thy will be done on earth,

as it is in Heaven.” Amen.

 

I have no idea who really said the quote I am about to share, I counted at least five folks I’ve never heard of claim the credit, so I’m just going to say it’s by an anonymous! Author. Now the quote: “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.”  Someone might say the opposite it true: “Sometimes when things are falling into place, they may actually be falling apart.” It’s not always easy to see which perspective is true. It can be challenging these days to hold a conversation that doesn’t veer off into all-out conflict. Not since the days of the Civil War when the “blue and the gray,” fought against each other in bloody conflict, has our nation been so divided by color. Politically we’ve been divided into red states and blue states. Racially, we are divided up into white lives, black lives, blue lives, and all lives. With sexuality there are all the colors of the rainbow. Medically, there are the masked and the unmasked! Each of us are being systematically trained to identify, to label, to judge, and then to condemn those who dare to bear or represent a different color, or to wear a mask, or not to wear a mask. There is a Facebook group that I won’t give the name, and here is how a recent post read: “Good morning to everyone except people who are still sharing all lives matter rhetoric.”  It’s not hard to figure what their greeting to the “all lives matter” crowd would be.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these people and issues matter, and outcomes will end up affecting us all, but is there not a universal truth that could unify us all? Some principle that is above and beyond who we love, how we vote, or the color of our skin? 

In our gospel reading today we may find more questions than we do answers. We don’t hear about Jesus the Good Shepherd, or Jesus the Prince of Peace; instead we encounter another side of Jesus that can be disturbing. This Jesus says that he has not come to bring peace but a sword. He says that he will be the source of conflict between family members. If we love our parents or our children more than God, then we are unworthy of God, and tells us if we don’t give up our lives, we will lose them – is this all literally true? Is this the same Jesus that calmed the storm? In this reading we hear about the Jesus that can stir up a storm, shaking things up and bringing change to the status quo. Remember Jesus in the temple with the money changers? What did he do? He turned the tables over of those who were profiting from the animal sacrifice and drove them out? Why? He was bringing a change where there would no longer be a sacrificial system, he would become the One and final sacrifice - “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” 

In today’s story he is at it again, and he is using hyperbole and talking paradox to get his point across. By exaggerating his message, he was getting folks’ attention, telling them and us “to hate” our families in comparison with our love for God. For these first believers in Jesus it was going to cost them. Some who followed Christ would be disowned by their parents and disinherited. Some would be kicked out of their homes; some would lose jobs due to the discrimination against these early followers of Jesus. He was bringing a sword, but it was sharp like a scalpel. 

“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” 

 

There is comfort in the midst of the literal and figurative storms – as he tells the disciples three times not to fear. If there was to be any fear it was only to be toward the One who had ultimate authority in the Universe – God.

“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” 

Besides swords he talks about birds and follicles – Sparrows and hair to be exact. He reminded them and us that not one small sparrow falls to the ground without God’s knowledge and care. Startlingly, he reveals that Heaven has an entire accounting department dedicated to hair inventory – and says that the very hairs on our head are all numbered. Some of us are making their job easier, because we are providing fewer hairs for them to count! [Losing hair].

This is the confidence we can have in the midst of the storms of life, we are being looked after.

“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” 

I had a visit from an old friend this week, (via ZOOM) and we were having a great conversation, until we got on ‘one of those subjects’ where we had very different views. As his voice raised, so did mine, and so did my blood pressure! But wait, is there not a universal truth that could unify us? Some principle that is above and beyond who we love, how we vote, or the color of our skin?  We stopped and remembered that we both had a Higher Authority, and that there was a third principle that topped all others, it’s what Jesus talked about and lived the whole time he was on earth – The Kingdom of God! Long after our political debates have ended the Kingdom of Heaven will just be getting started. The reign of God, where all are rightly relating to God in love, and all are rightly relating to our neighbors in love. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

In the meantime, whenever we feel our anger and blood pressure rising toward someone saying that “black lives matter,” we need to ask ourselves, ‘have I really listened to a black person’s story?’ When someone talks about how “blue lives matter” and our anger flashes, let us ask ourselves, ‘Have I sat down with an officer of the law and really listened to their story?’ When someone mentions that “All lives matter” and our forehead starts getting warmer, may we ask ourselves, ‘Have I sat down with one of these and really listened to their story?’ When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of no discrimination based upon sexual orientation and we want to argue, we need to ask, ‘Have I sat down with someone from the LGBTQ community and really listened to their story?’ When someone chides us for either not wearing a mask or for wearing one, let us ask ourselves, ‘Have I sat down and really listened to their story?’ After doing so, we still may not agree, but we will see their true colors, we will come to understand that deep down we are all the same – God’s beloved children, and we’ll come to respect the dignity of every human being. 

Dear friends, I believe God is at it again! The Holy Spirit is stirring and the status quo is not going to stay the same. Do not fear, God’s got this, and God is keeping up with all the sparrows and all our hairs that are hitting the floors of our homes. St. James has some sage advice worth holding onto in these days of COVID and CONFLICT:

“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” James 1.19-20

“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” 

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