Sun, Jul 19, 2020
Duration: 52 mins 19 secs
Rev. Dr. Shawnthea Monroe
*At the 32-minute mark, there was an issue with the livestream feed for about two minutes. The transcript of the missing parts of the sermon are posted below.
"You see, Jesus acts as a bridge between God and humanity. Jesus is the docent to God’s world. God’s Kingdom does not look so much like a bunch of Christians simply waiting for rapture. No, instead God is deeply concerned with and active in our present world, in our present struggles. And when we experience grace and peace and reconciliation, as hard as it may be, that is the Kingdom of Heaven breaking through. As followers of Christ we are part of a dynamic movement, and the Kingdom of God is breaking in in bits and pieces all the time in front of our very eyes.
We’re not called to weed other people, to decide who is in and who is out of God’s grace. Judgement belongs to God. But we are called to take part in this Kingdom God is building all around. We are called to look inward. To look closely at the problems around us.
Because there are a lot of sins that grow like weeds in our world. When we look around, we see so much pain and suffering, especially in this present moment. Not only has Coronavirus presented unimaginable challenges to us, it has also revealed to us new particularities of the weed of Racism. In Michigan, the death rate for Coronavirus for black residents is four to six times higher than that of white residents. The reason for this disparity is not biological, but rather because structural inequalities that are influenced by racial discrimination. As Christians, we cannot look away from this.
Recently I was talking about this parable of the wheat and weeds with a friend. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest where there’s a weed called Horsetail. It’s everywhere. Horsetail is on hiking trails and parks and if you’re particularly unlucky it’ll end up in your garden. The internet is full of blogs and how-to websites offering advice on how to destroy it. Horsetail is particularly difficult to get rid of because it is designed to resist weeding. The stem snaps easily if you try to pull out the visible part of the plant. The root system can grow to a depth of six feet. Getting rid of this weed is hard and demanding work. It requires a great deal of time and focus and deep digging.
Racism is like Horsetail. There are no shortcuts to get rid of it. The roots run deep. Getting rid of this weed takes time. You might remove the visible signs, but it’s there lurking underneath. Too often we are quick to get rid of weeds only to leave the roots still intact. We get rid of slavery and the weed returns in the form of mass incarceration.
Racism researcher Ibram Kendi writes that the only way to combat racism is to constantly identify and describe it and then to dismantle it. In other words, we must pay attention. We must dig deep. We must do the hard and long and complicated work of untangling roots.
This type of work will inevitably require structural changes that will make people uncomfortable. It will require new ways of thinking. But on the other side of those choices lies a better world, a better and more Kingdom-like world.
Since the founding of this country white Americans have consciously and unconsciously invested in the illusion of superiority which has cost us authentic relationships with our siblings in Christ. We must actively speak out against the notion that racial equity is a loss for white people. Pulling out the weeds of racism allows us to be more human, to get closer to God. And that's what Jesus is all about."