June 30, 2019

2019 June30

I Will, With God's Help

Proper 8 – Year C
A Sermon Preached by The Rev. Ian M. Delinger

 

Please take out a Book of Common Prayer, the red book in front of you. Turn to page 304, and halfway down the Baptismal Covenant begins 5 questions that we covenant ourselves to, at both our Baptism and at our Confirmation (page 417).

 

I want you to specifically pay attention to the last two questions on page 305:

 

  • Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? I will, with God’s help.
  • Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will, with God’s help.

The second-to-last question reflects the Epistle, which itself reflects the Golden Rule, stated by Jesus in all four Gospels.

 

So, it is abundantly clear that, as Christians, we are called and commissioned to love everyone and to strive for justice and peace. But, we are failing at the core of our faith if we do nothing about the injustice inflicted upon the children at the Southern Border of the United States. If we do nothing:


•    we are using our freedom as an opportunity for nothing other than self-indulgence;
•    we are not striving for justice and peace among all people;
•    we are not respecting the dignity of every human being;
•    we are not loving our neighbor as ourselves.


Regardless of who you voted for; regardless of what you believe about asylum and immigration; regardless of what you think about the immigration system and policies of the United States,

 

the people – the children – in
detention are human beings, like
you and me, and deserve their
basic human rights.

 

It has been established in International Law, Federal Law and legal precedence that the conditions that are being reported in the news are not humane. And it’s our very own Government, our very own taxes, our very own fellow citizens who are making this happen. We should have no other responses than to be disgusted, angry and distraught. Yesterday, the 6 Bishops in the State of California issued a statement condemning the conditions and calling upon us as Christians to act.

 

We often fall into this false sense of security or Christian smugness that our neighbors are those who live next door or within our community, people we might run into during our daily comings-and-goings. However, Jesus makes it clear that the definition of our neighbor is more expansive at several points in His ministry. All of humanity are our neighbors, and we are commanded to love them as we love ourselves.

 

So, other than pray, how do we
live the Baptismal Covenant?
We feel helpless.

 

There has been a plethora of guidance on the internet, and real guidance that is staying away from the political partisan rhetoric and focusing our attention on the atrocities that are being committed on real human beings within our own country and with our tax dollars.

 

The article from Yopp Voice is the one that I have seen passed around the most. Yopp Voice is a social justice blog dedicated to civil rights education, elevating voices of marginalized people, and reducing oppression. Yopp offers a few realistic actions that we can take to bring the suffering to an end and improve the conditions for migrants, as we endeavor to live up to our Baptismal Covenant to strive for justice and peace among all peoples, and respect the dignity of every human being. Yesterday’s statement from

the Bishops also offered ways to engage, but it arrived too late – but the list is almost identical.

The first action Yopp suggests is one which everybody needs to do, and that is to


stop the hyperbole.

 

“It doesn’t matter how you describe the detention centers; the conditions are deplorable. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think they are concentration camps; [or] the dismissive language of comparing them to resorts; the conditions are deplorable. There is no spin.”

 

To get caught up in semantics, to get caught up in party politics, to get caught up in whether or not the migrants should have crossed the border in the first place is to abdicate your responsibility as a human being, as a citizen of these United States, and as a Christian. None of that chatter matters. What matters is how the children and migrants are being treated. The more we make excuses, the less human the migrants become, and the easier it is for the general public to not care as these human beings suffer, deteriorate physically and mentally and even die. So, stop discussing the peripheral issues, and just state the obvious: the conditions our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters from Central America are being kept in are absolutely unacceptable. With our words, let us love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

 

The next action is a tricky one for many. Yopp and the Bishops tell us to

 

donate time or money to
established organizations.

 

Thankfully,

 

“there are many organizations already working hard to address immigration problems who know exactly what kind of help they need and when. Most organizations primarily need donations, volunteer work, and lawyers to offer their services pro bono,”

 

says Yopp, and that’s true. The tricky part is each individual’s perception or opinions of some of these groups. Here’s the thing: when you strip away partisan views and focus on the facts about the conditions our fellow human beings are being kept in, and then when you remember your call to strive for justice and peace among all peoples, you realize that this goes beyond your own feelings about any particular humanitarian organization. This is about action, and these organizations are in the best positions to act.

 

The third suggestion is also tricky, but it just got easier:

 

Participate in or organize
a protest.

 

Some of you may consider yourselves activists. Some of you may have been activists in the past. Some of you may have never been activists. Some of you may have contempt for activists.

 

Let me tell you my story. I’m an armchair activist. I’m the person who gets fired up about injustice. I argue with friends. I say that I stand up for what I believe in. But to give up my time and money to do some real good? Well, there are people much more capable and on fire than I. I’m not going to fly to Washington, DC; I’m not going to drive to Sacramento. Heck, when I lived in the UK, just the idea of traveling to London to join a couple hundred thousand people standing in front of Parliament put shivers down my spine – I couldn’t think of any worse way to spend a day – particularly in London!

 

Then, two nights after Bishop Mary installed me as Rector of St Stephen’s, a gunman killed 49 human beings and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL. Because of various circumstances, I not only ended up attending the Vigil organized by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, but I was one of 3 or 4 speakers from the Christian Community. Then the Women’s March was organized, expecting 300 but 10,000 turned out. Then migrant children were being separated from their families at the US-Mexico border. Then 17 kids were shot at a high school in Parkland, FL. Then a teacher at SLO High write a letter supposedly quoting the Bible and stating that it would be better off if the LGBTQ students were dead. I have been at all those demonstrations, and I still don’t consider myself an activist!

 

What I learned from showing up
is that showing up counts!


•    Showing up shows the people affected that someone cares.
•    Showing up shows your community that you care.
•    Showing up shows the decision makers that you care.
•    Showing up shows that you really want to live the Baptismal Covenant.


Friday, July 12, and Saturday, July 13, you can show up. Lights for Liberty is organizing protests and demonstrations across the country. The July 12 vigil is at Heritage Square Park in Arroyo Grande; the July 13 protest is outside County Hall in SLO. All you have to do to show your support is show up. And here’s a strange thing: I simply posted my disgust and distress on Facebook, and I was approached to speak. You might be thinking, “I’ll show up to support Fr Ian.” No. Show up to support those children, those young human beings who are being held in conditions not fit for animals.

 

The next suggestion seems too simple to be effective, and that is to

 

contact your Senate and House
Representatives.

 

It works! Sometimes here in California it seems pointless to contact our Senators because we know how they are going to respond and vote. However, numbers make a difference.

 

Also, complacency makes a difference. Elected officials will tell you that they hear from more people who are on the wrong side of an issue than those who are on your side of the issue. Why? Because those who believe something to be the right thing to do are complacent, and they don’t write their elected officials. People who don’t care about anyone but themselves do write their elected officials. Let’s create some balance. If you have an opinion, tell the people who can make a difference. The addresses of our 5 State and Federal representatives are listed on the back of the bulletin. (and at the end of this page)

 

Lastly, and most importantly:

 

Educate! Educate yourself;
educate others.

 

This goes all the way back to the first suggestion of withdrawing from the hyperbole. Stick with the issue; get educated; spread the facts and the actions you and others can take.

 

There are some other ways to get engaged listed on the back of the bulletin. (and at the end of this page)

 

Yopp gets its name from a beloved children’s book: Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!In this story which teaches social justice, Horton, in striving for justice and peace for all peoples, declares to the one reluctant lad:

 

“We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts!So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”Thus he spoke as he climbed. When they got to the top,the lad cleared his throat and he shouted out, “Yopp!”

 

Our fellow human beings are being mistreated right before our eyes! Living out our Baptismal Covenant to help them is neither Republican or Democrat, Progressive, Liberal, Libertarian or Conservative, or political at all. This is a humanitarian crisis affecting real human lives. And because it is happening right here on US soil, we can do much more to fix the problem than we can a humanitarian crisis abroad.

 

Consider this dynamic:


When we see human beings living in similar conditions when they are in their own counties, like after a hurricane or during a famine, we readily donate money. But when we see what is happening to these human beings in our own country, it suddenly becomes a partisan debate. Why is that? If you think about nothing else when you leave here today, consider that.

 

Addressing the conditions that the migrant children are being held in is a faith issue for us. Those of us who have the freedom to be self-indulgent have the responsibility to protect those who do not have any sort of freedom or even autonomy over their own bodies. Our Baptism calls us to care for all of God’s people, and we have been given several actions within our means that will help make a difference.

 

Go back to page 305 in the BCP. Give me the response to:

  • Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? I will, with God’s help.
  • Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will, with God’s help.


“I will, with God’s help.” You are not alone when you live the Baptismal Covenant. When you take the Sacrament, that is you saying boldly, “I will, with God’s help.”

 

Turning a blind eye is actively rejecting the dignity of other human beings. Finding reasons not to act is rejecting your opportunity to strive for justice and peace among all peoples. Don’t let the freedom we enjoy lead us to complacency toward that which is blatantly immoral. Let us always show love and live our Baptismal call to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, and loving your neighbor as yourself. Show up for your fellow human beings, and when you don’t think you can, remind yourself,


“I will, with God’s help.”

 

Contact list from the bulletin:

2019 June30_FromBulletin

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