Monday, April 17, 2006

From Yesterday's Sermon

It was perhaps fitting that William Sloan Coffin died the same week that The Nation, a publication to which he often contributed, ran an article recalling his work and that of Martin King and the Berrigan brothers and other religious leaders who toiled tirelessly for peace and justice and on behalf of the marginalized and outcast. The article noted that “Their inspiring example raises a disturbing question: Where are their counterparts now?” [1]

Look around you this morning. It is Easter. The hope they gave their lives for is reborn among us. Look at the scores of us who have come out this morning to a faith community that clearly discerns God’s calling to give voice to prophetic faith on behalf of the least of these, to practice radical hospitality among those abused by church and culture, and to celebrate joyously with everyone God’s abundant creation. Look around you this morning: we are the people we’ve been waiting for, and the risen Christ is in our midst.

Where are the Coffins, the Kings, the Berrigans today? Well, we may lack their eloquence and inspiration. Indeed, we may lack their courage and imagination. But we do not lack their hope, their faith nor their love, and we are walking the same path that they walked. For the path they walked was the way of Jesus Christ.

It is the way of the cross – for it seeks solidarity with the oppressed and persecuted and accepts the likelihood of suffering for their sake. But it is also the way of the empty tomb – for it is a way of unalterable hope and abiding faith in the good intention of the sovereign Lord of history. Thus it is the way through the doubt and despair of this time; it is the way through the fear of this time; it is the way through the violence and hatred of this time; it is the way through the darkness of this time.

You know, sometimes it feels like we are living in the absence of hope. Still, I believe with Dr. King that while the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.[2]

Sometimes it feels like the very air we breathe is filled with fear. Still, I believe with Rev. Coffin that the Bible has it right: “the opposite of love is not hate but fear. ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.’”[3]

Sometimes it feels like we are living in a death-dealing culture of permanent war. Still, I believe with Father Berrigan that “the God of life summons us to life; more, to be lifegivers, especially toward those who lie under the heel of the powers.”[4]

Sometimes it feels like we are living in the midnight of history. Still, I believe there is a new day coming and it breaks forth even now, even here. For though grief and mourning linger through the night, the dawn – the resurrection dawn – sings of a blessed hope.

That is the meaning of Easter. Love and justice join hands. Hope rises from the tomb. God and creation reconcile. A new day is come! Christ is risen!

[1] “Taking Back the Faith,” Dan Wakefield, (The Nation, April 24, 2006, 14-20.)

[2] This was one of King’s favorite sayings and can be found in several speeches included in A Testament of Hope. He drew it, apparently, from the writings of Theodore Parker, a 19th-century American pastor. See Rufus Borrow, Jr., “Martin Luther King, the Church and a Value-Fused Universe,” in Encounter, Christian Theological Seminary, 2005 (

[3] Credo, 27.

[4] These words of Berrigan are widely quoted but I am unsure of their original source. They can be found, among numerous other words from Berrigan, at the web site of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From Bryan:

I think one of the most important things that I have just recently started to remind myself is that we Christians are strangers in this world. Things will always be a little uncomfortable, things will always feel not quite right, we will never be totally satisfied here in this world becasue it is only temporary.

I'm not saying not to have hope, and I'm not saying not to fight because we have been entrusted in the care of people and all that is on the Earth. We all certainly need hope, faith and trust, but I have hope...I know...that one day in heaven things will be perfect, there will be total truth, there will be total love because we will be HOME. As weird as it sounds to most, I feel that this world is not my home. No matter how awful the world can be, this world is not mine and I don't belong to it becasue I am a child of God not of this world.