‘Privilege and Promise: This is America — Complacent, Complicit, or Converted?’

Sermons are inherently weird. They are speeches, but not just that. They are reflections on scripture, but not just that. They are commentary on the state of the world, but not just that. They are autobiographical, but not just that. They are aspirational, but not just that. They are monologues and they are conversations. Sermons are, it seems to me, quite the amalgamation.

Like most art forms — and I do think they are a form of art — sermons can be terrible or terrific. Often both at the same time depending on the viewer/listener.

Below is my most recent sermon, another installment in our summer series, “Privilege and Promise: This is America.” It is probably a bit weird. It is definitely an amalgamation. I begin, as I am wont to do, with a recap of the series thus far. If you are interested in the full boat:

Prologue, “The Past is Prologue”

Part 1, “Moving Beyond Fear” by the Rev. Danita R. Anderson

Part 2, “Being Colorblind”

Part 3, “He Said, She Said, We Should Say” by the Rev. Danita R. Anderson

Part 4, “Seeding Growth”

Part 5, “Good Trouble Required” by the Rev. Danita R. Anderson

This week we stuck with the Lectionary readings because, as happens startlingly often, they really seemed to fit our topic of racism and white supremacy in Christian history: The fascinating fables of liberation and creative nonviolent resistance to violent oppression that open the book of Exodus and the explicitly political story of confirming Jesus’ identity at Caesarea Philippi from Matthew’s gospel.

We need to talk about history so that we can envision and then create a better future.

While we briefly look at general Christian history, we focus in on Methodist history. Because, you know, ours is a United Methodist Church.

Let us say it plainly: The Christian church in America has been complacent toward — and complicit in — racism in America. But can we be converted to a new, better, more faithful way?

My sermon begins at 48:44 in the video below. (I can’t ever seem to get WordPress and YouTube to play nice with each other about that.) I went longer than I prefer. I truly wasn’t aware that I was going so long. I promise, I even cut a bunch of material. Something to work on for the future — an area of opportunity, as my good friend, John, likes to say.

Sermon begins at 48:44

Here’s the audio only, if you prefer not to have to look at me:

John Lewis said, “When you see something that’s not right, you must say something. You must do something.” The White supremacy at the heart of our Christian history is not right. It is the antithesis of Jesus. In other words it is anti-Christ. So let’s name it as such and get to work to eradicate it from our hearts, from our church, from our community, from our systems and structures. Friends, let’s seek forgiveness for our complicity and be converted to the way of creative nonviolent resistance to violent oppression. Let’s be converted to the way of being actively antiracist. That’s who Jesus calls us to be.

I hope you will tell me what resonated with you — and more importantly, what needs to improve.

Image by George Pagan III on Unsplash

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