Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Dare to be fooled

Mark 16: 1-8
New Ark United Church of Christ, Newark, DE
April 1, 2018 – Easter Sunday

         None of us likes to be fooled nor do we want to miss the boat on anything either. Sometimes we can be persuaded that there must be one right way to do things, to be in the world; much of the time it’s our way or the way of the mob, the trend, the majority, the status quo, or those in the resistance camp. We want to know who and what is right so we won’t have to be wrong. For many folks certainty is the not-so-unconscious drive behind religious faith. Or the rejection of religious faith. None of us likes to be hoodwinked, to be sold a bill of goods, to be taken for a fool.

         And yet Easter is the most foolish story of all and dares us to be fools in the telling and the living of it. Frederick Buechner puts it this way: “Resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.” We dare to be fooled, that our worst thing is not the last thing. This is the heart of the foolishness of this story and the foolishness that this world needs most right now.


         23 year old Stephon Clark shot in the back by police while talking on his cellphone in his grandmother’s backyard is not the last thing, is not the end of his story. And Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, John Crawford, and too many more.

         17 students and staff members killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is not the last thing. The thousands who have been killed due to gun violence—it is not the last thing.


         Being insulted, ridiculed, and threatened because of your age, your sexuality, your gender, because you dare to speak truth to BS and to power, because you survived, is not the last thing.

         Being excluded or not feeling safe at school or in the workplace or on the street because of your color, your gender or gender expression, your sexuality, your ability is not the last thing.

         Countless women, men, children, people of all ages and colors sexually abused and assaulted, their stories only now being told, is not the last thing.

         Being misgendered and invisible to others, having your pronouns ignored or disregarded is not the last thing.

         Environmental protection laws being dismantled by our current administration is not the last thing. An ever-increasing military budget is not the last thing.

         Wars in Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, Sudan, the Congo, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, and so many more are not the last thing.

         Having to leave one’s country and family and home to go to a strange place, speak another language, depend on others, is not the last thing. Being deported from this country, the only country you’ve ever known, leaving behind your family and home, is not the last thing.

        The ever-widening gap between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us, the 46 million Americans who live in poverty, the more than 3 billion people worldwide who live on $2.50 a day, is not the last thing.


         Your worst thing, whatever was done to you, whatever wound or hurt or rage you are carrying, whatever shame or guilt over something you’ve done or left undone, whatever you fear about the future, is not. The. Last. Thing.

         UCC colleague Ben Guess who now works for the ACLU says, “Easter has always been somewhat difficult for me, one of the hardest Sundays to preach — for me. Grateful I leave it to others to do these days. The ultimate cheerful victory proclaimed is glib and empty without realization of the vast oppression, violence and racism many know. My hope and bet is on resurrection still, but I believe the crucifixion is probably still the more obvious place to invest our work and lives. I’m invested in Easter but with wide eyes opened. The stone is large and heavy.”

         It is entirely appropriate that we meet Easter at this Table; it is the best foolishness of all on this day. Resurrection sets the table with broken body and blood shed because there is still justice to be restored; there are still wounds to be acknowledged and healed; there is still forgiveness to be sought and repentance to be offered; there is still betrayal and desertion in the human heart; there is still the death of innocents at the hands of empire. And there is still compassion to be shared; there is still unconditional love to be learned and given; there are relationships that still need to be repaired; there is still peace to be achieved; because as long as we don’t give up on these things, there is still hope.

         And for this we must dare to be willing fools. Suckers for Jesus, for wholeness, for resurrection. Amen.

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