A Christian response to our violent world. (July 17, 2016 Homily)

Once again, we come together after a week of horrible news. And, once again we are all asking ourselves one simple question: How can we make this stop? We know there is no simple answer, but we are looking for encouragement. We are looking for hope.

Like Abraham and Sarah. When strangers sent by God approach Abraham’s home, he doesn’t response with hate or violence to strangers. He welcomes them, offering them water to bathe their feet, food, a place to rest. One simple act which has great consequences, as soon after this God blesses Sarah with a child. As the book of Hebrews says, he was ‘entertaining angels’.

Did you know the cab drivers turned off their meters and gave everyone free cab rides around Nice the night of the tragedy? They didn’t know who they were driving, but they welcomed the stranger in a time of great need.

We need to hear these stories. They give us hope in humanity. The hatred and racism that fuels so much violence in our world comes about because some people  do not feel accepted. They don’t feel welcome. By doing small things with great loves, we can build a more loving, more accepting world. The Kingdom of God. We can’t stop someone who is psychologically unbalanced, but we can welcome the immigrant, the refugee, the person who is not like us.

Think of it this way: If we each lit a candle, soon we would have a great light. The light of Christ, a light to guide everyone through these most difficult times.

That’s the promise we know through one crucifixion, and one Resurrection. The Book of Revelation promises us that evil and hate will never be victorious over the goodness of God. That is our hope. That is our answer this week.

Like Martha and Mary. Let’s not argue this morning whether it’s better to run around the kitchen and serve Jesus or sit at his feet. Let’s take a step back and recognize they both welcomed Him into their home. They both offered hospitality, not hatred.

It’s probably good to keep in mind these days that if the news channels broadcast all the good news that happens in Orlando, in Dallas, in Baltimore, in San Bernadino,  they wouldn’t have enough reporters or broadcast space to get all that love on the air. They would need a 24/7 news station,  broadcasting all year, to show the kindness and good deeds that occur every day in those cities. And our city as well.

Last week, former President George Bush spoke at the Dallas Memorial for the slain police officers. I was deeply moved by his words, and I’d like to share them with you this morning.

“Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose. But Americans, I think, have a great advantage. To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values.

We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals.

At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions.

And it is not merely a matter of tolerance, but of learning from the struggles and stories of our fellow citizens and finding our better selves in the process.

At our best, we honor the image of God we see in one another. We recognize that we are brothers and sisters, sharing the same brief moment on Earth and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity.

At our best, we know we have one country, one future, one destiny. We do not want the unity of grief, nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection and high purpose.

The Apostle Paul said, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of strength and love and self-control.” Those are the best responses to fear in the life of our country…

Hospitality, not hatred. That’s what we can do. That’s the answer. And in knowing that the Lord is with us, may we go in peace this morning, glorifying the Lord with our lives.



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