The opening from today’s sermon.
I normally begin my sermons with a joke for a funny story. But I’m not going to do that today. It doesn’t seem right.
In light of another horrific expression of hatred in the massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as people gathered in God’s house to pray, jokes or funny stories seem totally out of place.
As God’s people gather to worship, as people look to God for answers, for guidance, for any inkling of hope – we who have gathered here know deep inside that unless God is these things (the answer, our guide, our hope) unless God is these things, all that we believe, all that we do, all that the church of Jesus Christ stands for…this, this is a joke.
Unless what we do here every week, and unless what we believe to the core of our being, that Jesus is risen from the dead, and because of the resurrection of Christ that the Kingdom of God is real, that the Kingdom of light is pushing back the darkness. And because of Jesus, evil and hatred are being obliterated by the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Unless that’s what is happening…we are a joke.
Friends, what we are doing right now, what churches all across this country and this world are doing on this day, is not just providing people with nice thoughts or nice ideas about God.
What we are doing right now is participating in the activity of God to push back the darkness with the light of Christ. What we are doing by praising God and his light, his love, his grace, and his kingdom, is to be actively engaged in destroying the work of hatred and darkness.
The most compelling hope for a world that is fractured by violence, hatred, greed, and prejudice is a community who willingly submits to the ways of God so that God might transform hate-filled, anger-filled, tired sinners into a people where justice and love flow like living waters.
That is the church of Jesus Christ. That’s you and me. That’s the church.