Beyond this Void and Darkness
First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday Year A, RCL
Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Matthew 28:16-20
Where do we come from? Some would say we came from the seed of our parents; and the seed of their parents; and their parents before them; all the way back to the beginning. While this is true, to trace our roots through recorded time, it is also accurate that we come from the formless void. Everything man knows comes from the formless void; out of darkness.
Those of us with faith believe that beyond this void and darkness, beyond space and time, there is something else out there; something we call God. While God was there at the beginning of our world, He was not alone. “A wind from God hovered over the waters.” This word wind can be equally translated as Breath or Spirit. All three are the same word in Hebrew and Greek. So we can equally say that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters and that the Spirit was an integral part of creation.
We may be looking at our country and seeing destruction and mayhem. We may be wondering, where is God in all this? But when we look back, way back in our history, we don’t wonder where God was when a mob breaks out to urge a politician to have an innocent man executed. In Jesus’ passion narrative, we know God was with them. God was with the people even as horrible things happened to them and the people around them. God was with them even as I imagen that the disciples doubted God’s presence as they were locked in a room. I bet they questioned, much as Jesus did on the cross, Why have You forsaken me?
Starting with the Watts riots of 1965, there has hardly been a decade that goes by without riots breaking out due to the treatment or killing of our black brothers and sisters. Each time there is a riot, there are people who wonder why such violence; why such destruction. If you cannot begin to understand why, I would suggest you turn off the news and talk to your black friends or neighbors; intentionally listen to what they have to say. There is no need to agree or disagree. It’s not about starting an argument. Just simply acknowledge and digest their words.
I am not condoning this violence or destruction by any means. Let me say that again. I am not condoning looting, burning, or any other forms of violence. But on some level, deep within, I understand that when a person does not feel listened to, especially about their lawful rights, they tend to get upset. It is easy for us to sit in our homes and blame those on the left or the right but this blame is really just a distraction from the real issue. The issue is; why do we repeatedly witness innocent people succumbing to violence by the hands of the privileged?
From the beginning, our God created order and meaning out of disorder and chaos. God is in our story from the very first word of creation through the end of time as we know it. God is with us in this time of disorder and I am confident that by listening and learning from our God we will come out of this better than we were before. Though to truly make a difference will take more than prayer. It will take more than acknowledging our God. It will take listening and learning from God and from one another. And it will take acting on what we have learned
Today Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Most of us have been baptized. And in our Baptismal Covenant we ask God to help us to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Our God is a powerful God who has given us the gift of forgiveness through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. This gift offers each of us healing and renewal. If we remember the gospel reading from last week Jesus breathed on the disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” This gift of forgiveness was given to us not for us alone but for us to offer everyone else as well. To be forgiven, we have to be willing to forgive.
Even in this time of Isolation, this time of social unrest, we are not alone for it is the Spirit that bends our hearts to follow God more fully and deeply. To hopefully realize that this issue of race is not a right or left issue; for it has been going on for longer than I have been alive; through many, many different administrations. Racial justice is a Christian issue on how we love our neighbors and how we demonstrate that we love all of our neighbors equally. This is the New Creation that Christ brings us and asks us to participate in. Where there is no Greek or Jew and everyone is treated with the same justice and equality.