The Rev. Bob Holum
Had Jesus been watching the internet screening of the blockbuster, “Hamilton”, as some of us did Friday night, he might have said,
I am not throwing away my [stomp] shot!
I am not throwing away my [stomp] shot!
Hey, yo, I’m just like my country
I am young scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my [stomp] shot!
“Take my yoke, bear the cross! Jesus is saying, “Carpe diem! Seize the time! We’re not throwing away our shot!”
And, with those words, I’d like to say to you, People of God, “Happy 5th of July! Welcome to the ongoing and unfinished Revolution!
Back in March and early May when the Covid and death rate started to climb and then to spike, we knew we were involved in an unfinished revolution. We realized we humans are out of whack with the natural balance of the planet, and the natural world is fighting back. We knew we needed a revolution in the way we interact with other living beings on this fragile blue spaceship world. We tuned in. We slowed down. We took our temperatures, wore masks, self isolated, if we could, learned things we never wanted to know about ventilators and PPE’s. We learned how precious and underpaid and under-protected people on farms picking food and in grocery stores were and are - thank you Haley and Sara Donatello and others in those front lines kind of work: delivery people, first responders, doctors, nurses, health aids, nursing home staff. You are our heroes! God protect you!
We learned about supply chains, and how fragile they are and how living in an interconnected world means we are vulnerable to the same germs as every other person on the planet and that we’d better take an interest in what’s happening in China and in Ecuador and in Sweden and in Madras because sooner or later what is here will be there and what is there will be here. I think of the corona virus as a wakeup call to a revolution in planetary consciousness. And we don’t want miss our Shot! because, if we don’t get it right, our future as a species on this planet could be very short. As Dr. Martin Luther King put it, we learn to live together as KIN - including the natural world - or we perish together as fools. And we don’t want to miss our…shot!
Then, along about the middle of April, I think, we started to realize that the Covid wan’t, really, an equal opportunity virus. People who could afford or were able to work from home had much lower risk of infection, obviously, and people who worked in crowded conditions - like meat packing plants - had much higher rates. People of color - African American and Hispanic people, especially - had higher rates, and that was disturbing and unjust. And then Ahmaud Arbery was killed by vigilantes in Georgia while jogging. And Breanna Taylor in a no-knock police raid while sleeping in her bed. And George Floyd, knee on his neck for 8:46 seconds, and Rayshard Brooks, while being drunk and passed out and then grabbing a taser and running away, shot in the back, by police, and then Elijah McCain in Aurora Colorado, overdosed with Ketamine tranquilizer after being grabbed and put in a carotid chokehold because he was walking while waving his arms and listening to music on headphones. There’s something wrong when Black Men in particular are over-policed and over stigmatized as posing a threat. People started putting these events together with the history of slavery and abolition and civil war and reconstruction and Jim Crow and civil rights and with upsetting and inconvenient truths like Black families net worth is 1/10 that of white families and other ongoing economic and educational and medical inequalities. Every Black person feeling a knee on their neck. The virus was revealing undeniable evidence of enduring and systemic racism in the U.S.
People took to the streets saying “Black Lives Matter” and the demonstrators were Black and white and brown and gay and straight and gay and poor and middle class and affluent. Major cities. Small towns. Young people often leading the way. Older people renewing a level of consciousness and commitment missing since the 60s. The recognition that we are living through a revolution in racial justice and a revolution of willingly dismantling white privilege, white supremacy. We are having a chance, at last, to fulfill the dream our founding, Hamilton generation had: All men (and that means humans) are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and among them are, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That could come true, for the first time, in our lifetimes. And we don’t want to miss our [stomp] shot!
Welcome to the unfinished revolutions in planetary consciousness, In racial justice and dismantling white privilege.
And welcome to a revolution in the relationship between poverty and wealth. We’ve known for some time that the economy has been flooding the upper reaches of the income scale with loot while incomes in the middle and at the bottom of the scale have been flat or declining. This is true for Blacks and whites. Minimum wages have been stagnant, rising costs of health care have put the majority of families one paycheck away from economic disaster, and deterioration of schools, water supply, air quality and jobs is hitting low income communities over the head with a club while the more fortunate among us notice much less decline in our quality of life.
As many of you know, I’m a follower and supporter of the Poor People’s Campaign headed by Rev. William Barber and Rev. Liz Theoharis. We’ve organized a nationwide grassroots effort to build solutions to racial injustice, educational and environmental disparity (poorpeoplescampaign.org) that can bring everybody together at the same table to raise people up from the bottom instead of counting on benefits to trickle down from the top. The Poor People’s Campaign avoids political polarization by finding its loyalties and guiding principles in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and other great Fatih traditions. Last weekend 2.5 million people participated in an online “March on Washington” aimed at capturing the attention of leaders in all walks of life. It’s one way to say “Welcome to the Unfinished Revolution in Economic Justice.” It’s estimated that 700 persons per day die of poverty in the US. We have a chance to fix that. And we don’t want to miss our [stomp] shot!
Happy Fourth July! Welcome to the unfinished revolutions in Global Consciousness, Racial Reparation and Economic Justice.
Our president got it partway right when he said “Make America Great Again.” What he maybe meant to say was “Make America Great for Everyone for the Very First Time. He can abbreviate it to Make America Great for Everyone and just change one letter, MAGA to MAGE. Add an “I” to the beginning, get “IMAGE” and you start to get the theological point, “Everyone IS in the Image of God!”
None of this is news to followers of Jesus. Jesus came from the tradition of Jewish prophecy that taught the greatness of a society depended on its treatment of widows, orphans, poor people and migrants. He taught that all people: rich, poor, brown, black, male, female, gay, straight, trans, bi, high, low or in between are created in the image of God and worthy of respect and equal treatment. He taught that valuations based on religion, ethnicity, class or sex were sin: Idolatry, putting something alien between believer and God. Bigotry of any kind is worshipping the creature, not the Creator. He taught that oppression of others for profit is sin. And he came to identify, condemn and forgive sin for the sake of the healing of our broken world. He picked up the cross of human sin and suffering and it killed him. He died to repair the breach between God and humans so that others might live. And he teaches us to do likewise:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke - my cross - is easy, and my burden is light.”
The wonderful thing about the cross Jesus offers us is that each one is custom fitted. Your cross may have something to do with racism, mine with equality between men and women, someone else’s with care for lonely elderly low income people. Crosses take account of our own sinfulness and weakness. Crosses never impose more burden than God gives you strength to bear. And crosses are never to be born alone. All of us, collectively, bear the crosses of environmental degradation, racial reparation and economic justice. Together we make the commonwealth of heaven great for everyone, and all of us rise together. No lonely hope crushing crosses.
How do find the cross with your name on it? That custom fitted cross?
2012, 8 years ago, Tyler was being fitted for the ministry cross that he will shoulder up, by God’s grace today. He invited me to go on on overnight hike down into the Tahawus wilderness where I would rest in the lean to for the day while he climbed his next two 46ers, Redfield and Marshall. I had a good book and some short hikes in mind, and, just as he was leaving that morning, I had a thought. “Tyler”, I asked, “what should I do if you don’t come back.” He thought for a minute, and said, “Bob, don’t try and come after me, or we will both die. Hike out to the trailhead where there is phone service and call my dad. He’ll know what to do.” Made perfect sense.
You get fitted for your personal, custom cross, by having a personal, living two-way communication with Universal Mother/Father, that is, with God. Tyler, and I, and a lot of other people here today can guide you to the trailhead where you can find the connection you need. For many of us, this little log cabin church is one such trailhead. Yours may be in a canoe, on a pond. Or loving into a grandchild’s eyes. Or, as for me, kneeling on the asphalt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, recalling George Floyd, and that “Silence in the face of injustice is violence.”
Welcome to the Jesus revolution: A revolution in planetary consciousness, a revolution in Racial justice, a revolution in the relationship between wealth and poverty. It’s our big moment -
AND WE DON’T WANT TO MISS OUR [STOMP] SHOT!