Yesterday I preached on the story of Joseph and his brothers from Genesis 37. Arrogant Joseph with his multicolored coat, and his brothers who plotted to kill him when they saw him coming. This story resonates in light of the violence and hatred and death in Charlottesville, Virginia, just 110-miles north of where I live.
Joseph and his brothers illustrate the worst in our society today — division, hate, racism, and violence. Often, our first knee-jerk response to those with whom we disagree is to violent, vengeful thoughts. This Joseph story — with its division, hatred, and violence — is as old as humanity, and sadly often repeated.
Here’s the audio of my sermon yesterday. It’s only 18-minutes, but I think you’ll find it helpful. This is not about confederate monuments or free speech or political parties — its about violence, hatred, and vengefulness. These are never morally right, whether the cause is repugnant or righteous. Jesus has called his followers to respond in a totally different way from our society’s default to violence. Listen and tell me what you think. And pray for Charlottesville…and our nation.
Today, June 21, 2015, our church stood silently while the names of those killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC this past week were read. As the names were read, the pipe organ chimed for each person whose life was cut short during a Bible study in a church where they should have been safe.
The sermon I preached this morning was about David and Goliath, taken from 1 Samuel 17. But, I lamented the fascination we have with violence, and called us to a new day of hope because as David said, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s…” 1 Samuel 17:47 NIV.
Here’s the podcast of that message about how, even in the midst of tragedy, the families of those killed showed the world there is a God.
Charleston, SC. An historic black church gathered for Bible study. Into that sacred, safe, and historic space violence and hatred intruded last night. As a pastor, my heart goes out to this congregation who lost their pastor, and to the families of the wounded and slain.
Several weeks ago, I quietly joined the NAACP whose membership is open to anyone who values justice and equality. You can join the NAACP as an act of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Charleston, Ferguson, Detroit, New York, Chatham, and all across this land. Isn’t it time that white ministers and church members take a stand humbly in support of those who have been the target of racism and violence for over 400 years here in this country?
I invite you to join me in this silent, but meaningful action. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. invited white pastors and church members to join with him. Some did, most (especially in the South) did not. Go to naacp.org and join today.
A retired Danville policeman got a bang out of his dinner this week. Apparently the ex-officer, John William Martin, 73, had stuck his pistol in the waistband of his pants before chowing down at a local seafood restaurant here. When he stood up, the gun discharged, shooting a bullet into the floor where it fragmented and wounded three people, one being Martin. So much for arming the citizenry to protect us.
However, in Baltimore this week, innocent bystanders were wounded by a gunman who fired randomly during a fight between two females. Some individuals were wounded, but one bystander was saved from injury by her Vera Bradley designer handbag, which took a bullet for her.
The Vera Bradley people are glad the woman is okay, and said their thoughts and prayers were with her and her family. To ease the pain of losing her VB handbag in the carnage, the Vera Bradley folks want to send her a replacement. How thoughtful!
Which brings me to my solution for stopping gun violence: Give everybody a Vera Bradley designer handbag.
Apparently they’re good at stopping bullets, and they come with a lifetime guarantee which includes gunshot damage. Plus, when not stopping bullets, they’re very stylish I’ve been told. This solution is bound to please both the NRA and the designer handbag industry, producing a win-win for everyone. Don’t thank me, I’m just glad I was able to help.