This Is the Time

It is difficult for me to speak these days. It is difficult to stand in a pulpit that has historically belonged primarily to white voices and raise up my own white experiences and sensibility, my own comparatively insignificant pain and suffering.

And “difficult” doesn’t cut it. “Difficult” can’t stop us. I am so deeply humbled by these times, that I can barely assemble a coherent sentence. And yet.

A friend told me about hearing James Corden of TV’s, “The Late Late Show” saying much the same thing in his carpool karaoke segment. “Who needs to hear, ME?? Who am I to speak?” he asks, and then he realizes that these times don’t call for some wondrous and heroic voice of certainty to save the day…but rather every single one of us is being invited – actually, critically called, urged, sought after, urgently drawn – to speak the truths we know, value and live. (Okay maybe those are my words, rather than Mr. Corden’s. I’m imagining the details.)

The important thing is: ALL of us, everyone, is being called, urged, sought after, urgently drawn – invited – to seize this moment and get it all out on the table. If I fail to speak, because mine, as a white voice, has a history of speaking hate filled rhetoric, then my white voice fails to carry my deepest values, the belief, hope and trust that I base my life and soul around: Every human life is created beloved by God, the Ground of All Being. No exceptions. No qualifications.

This is where I feel certain: This is the time. Of all the times that have been, NOW is the time.

We are opened up and laid bare. We are unmade. Our comfort is soundly disturbed and we will never be the same again. The wonderful news is that we can face the opening that has been made at great and horrible cost and find a way through it. We can do that. It is good to take a deep breath and let this be a beginning. We must. We are ALL connected to the roots and to the continuance of racism, and it will take ALL of us to dig it out from where it clings to our institutions and systems, our educational practices and all the mechanisms that organize and distribute wealth and plenty. This hatred is ancient and connected and won’t go quietly.

On a recent Sunday I spoke about the good news of fire: summer campfires and roasted marshmallows. The purification of steel and silver. Festering wounds cauterized. The seed pods of the lodgepole pine or the banksia bush opening ONLY by the destruction caused by forest or brush fire. If we can bear to be honest – and it is deeply painful – we weep for the nests and burrows and dens throughout the forest that end in ashes only. AND YET, we put our trust in re-growth. We hold a vision of a new forest verdant enough for ALL the nests and burrows and dens to be full and overflowing with life of infinite beauty and variety.

Friends, we have been opened by fire. We are living here and now. We are made for just such a time as this. We must not fail.

Together, in the name of the One who wept and rose again,
Pastor Chris