St. Matthew’s Sermon 08-04-2019 (Alternate)


St. Matthew’s Sermon 08-04-2019 (Alternate)

Note: In the shadow of the two shootings: El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, I did not deliver my planned message. The following is a reconstruction of what I delivered without a script.

We cannot ignore the increasing violence in our nation. Every day we hear of more lives lost to violence. Now, it has hit again, doubled, with the shooting in El Paso, Texas yesterday and the shooting in Dayton, Ohio early this morning. (As of the time of delivering this message, 19 people were killed in El Paso and 10 in Dayton). These losses add to a list that is already way too long.

I can understand how street violence occurs; drug gangs having turf wars makes sense. NOT good sense, but it is understandable.

Quarrels escalating to violence make sense. NOT good sense, but it is understandable.

But these mass shootings and the so many that came before when someone takes the lives of people who have done no harm, people they don’t even know, make no sense at all.

Acts such as these are born of pure hatred without provocation or justification. They are motivated by hate-speech, hatred begetting hatred, breeding fear and distain, growing and spreading like a virus across our land; sadly, it’s often perpetuated by our leaders who should instead be calling for unity, peace, and justice.

The question is; “what can we do about it”?

We of St. Matthew’s already know the answer. Just this week we learned it, or re-learned it.

Last Saturday as our mission team was setting off to their work in the Appalachia Service Project someone asked “Who should we ride with”? Bryan’s immediate response was “find someone you don’t know… that’s who you’re riding with”.

Bryan’s intent was for the members of the group who didn’t know each other to be immediately immersed in conversation that would lead to understanding, kinship, and love for one another.

Yesterday, as the group returned, Cindy posted “The Appalachia Service Project will always be enough to keep us motivated to work with others, for others, and to share the peace, be the peace, and have the peace”.

In the time in-between, Love was the focus: Love of God, love of friends, love of friends we do not yet know.

This is how our faith can turn this messed-up world around. Christian faith calls us to love, not only those who think, act, and worship as we do but everyone; every child of God regardless of race, class, religion or any other definer.

Christian faith opens the door for conversation that leads to understanding of the other; faith in hate slams the door and bolts it

Christian faith looks to serve others; those we know and those we do not know; faith in hate serves only the self.

Christian faith lifts both the other and ourselves; faith in hate tears down both the other and the self.

Christian faith makes sense good sense and will beget good sense!

Borrowing Cindy’s words again, “it is enough to keep us motivated to work with others for others and to share the peace, be the peace, and have the peace”.

Amen