The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
E. Bevan Stanley
July 4, 2021
Proper 9, Year B, Track 1
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
In the Name of the one, holy, and undivided Trinity. Amen.
What do we do with disillusionment? What do we do when life does not match our ideal and dreams? What do we do when we are struck down by illness in the prime of life and our career is destroyed and we lose all our money? What do we do when we learn that our country founded on the ideals of equality and liberty has never allowed either people from Africa or native people to be treated equally? What do you do when you pray to be healed of a chronic pain and God does not do so? What do you do when you come home after many extraordinary accomplishments and your neighbors scoff at you?
One possibility is to become cynical or depressed. What is the point of striving if you do not receive any profit or honor from your endeavors? Why work hard if the CEOs get all the increases in salaries and your income stays flat for fifty years? Why vote if the corporations and the very wealthy influence the congress and senate with their donations and lobbyist? Why respect the law, when the law and its officers do not protect you?
Another possible response is to get angry. The system is broken. The country is broken. Let us tear it down and start over. Throw the bums out. The laws are not protecting us, so let us ignore the laws and use force to forward our agenda. Either elections are rigged the tallies are fraudulent, or there is so much voter repression that the results are skewed. So, we will use violence and fear instead of those corrupt and ineffective procedures established by the law.
We are Christian citizens of the United States. This is complicated. As citizens we are bound to uphold the Constitution and to support government of the people, by the people and for the people. As Americans we should support and further the principles of the equality under the law and the principle that the law applies equally to all people. We should govern ourselves so that other peoples around the world would want to emulate us.
As Christians we are disciples of Jesus of Nazareth and members of a world-wide community that shares certain values. These include showing mercy to those who err, showing compassion to those who are poor, or ill, or on the edges of society. We should endeavor to be truthful in speech, humble and just in our relations with all, and willing to give of our surplus to those who have less. We believe in an abundant God. we believe that prosperity and blessings are not a zero sum gain, but rather that there is always sufficient goods, food, and blessings for all people. We are obligated to work towards political and economic arrangements that will distribute these goods, food, and blessings to all people on the planet. As Christians that worship together, we pray for the advancement of Jesus’ agenda: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. As Christians we work to have this world resemble more and more closely that Kingdom of God that Jesus describes in the parables and all his teaching. As Christian citizens we should use our votes to advance Jesus’ agenda. As Christian brothers and sisters in this congregation we discuss and debate and argue how best this may be done. Our politics is not Republican or Democrat. It cannot be labeled as conservative or progressive. We do not vote based on what is good for us; we vote based on what is good for the world.
David repudiated the violence of his military commander Joab who killed the leader of Saul’s force in a private feud. His efforts at peace making were successful when the Israelites saw that he really did want to play fair and hold everyone equally accountable.
Jesus sends out his disciples not in power but in humility using the power of God to heal and cast out the spirits of evil.
Paul proclaims the good news of Jesus and organizes Christian communities in spite of his own weakness and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
We are grieving the passing of a parishioner. We can acknowledge how God helped us receive her into our fellowship in the time of her need. We were compassionate and hospitable and did what we could for her. We also pray that our Lord may show us how to welcome and help others even better in the future. We can keep our eyes open for others in Litchfield who may be invisible to us.
I am proud to be a Christian, even though many Christians behave poorly. I am proud to be an American, even though we have fallen short and still fall short of our ideals. I hope and pray that we all can practice hope so that we never despair of progress and improvement. That we can practice love so that all our endeavors bring the blessings of God to others. That we can practice trust so that in the darkest times of our weakness we may know that God will not let us perish.
What do we do when things go badly? We trust God, we do our best, and we make our song, “Glory, glory, halleluiah.”