• Rev. Dr. Steven Yagerman

We stand in a tradition that is designed to speak to today

We should not underestimate the changes going on in our minds. These past few months the angel of death has cast a pall over our cities, villages and rural communities. People we have wanted to embrace to enrich our lives and establish connection have been categorized as potential sources of disease and destruction. We too have come to understand that we might be the unwitting carriers of the dread scourge.

As we wander in the valley of the shadow, we have been visited by own ghosts and skeletons that have heretofore been fastidiously ignored and concealed. The craven murder of George Floyd and several others by civil authorities have exposed the darkness that haunts our national psyche and has been seen more clearly by others than by ourselves.

At this time our country is in a paroxysm of response. People on the streets are calling for systemic change. Comfortable people have become aware of their complicity in a system which has been founded on historic injustices and the continuing consequences of this racial discrimination and separation. Even our churches, the traditional centers of peace and universal love, have been shuttered. Might these times be akin to the plagues that cursed Egypt in the time of Moses? Could this also be the prelude to a time of liberation and a new found freedom? Our world is changing and people of faith are being called to help this change towards liberation.

Our story teaches us that change is risky. It takes the leadership of people who have already endured massive change in their own lives and have come to see this change as foundational to existence itself. To lead and to act effectively a person and a community must be marked by a deeply held faith and conviction. The powerful temptation will be to return to the way things were. There will be the temptation to create new gods and idols based on wealth and power. New laws will have to be written and enacted for this new society to operate with justice and compassion as its cornerstone. Laws that recognize the inclinations of human nature to commodify and abuse others, while at the same time calling people to see the larger picture and potential of a new community of hope and healing, love and justice...

When we return to worshiping together in the weeks ahead and when we gather in our Zoom meetings until then, we need to understand that we stand in a tradition that is designed to speak to today. We are people who have embraced the idea that we are all called to move from slavery to the promised land. Our tradition teaches us that injustice cannot be ignored forever and that it absolutely destroys the souls of the oppressors as surely as it destroys the hopes and bodies of the oppressed.

At this time, let us lift our heads and raise our hands as we ask for wisdom, courage and commitment to become agents of change in these troubling times. Everything we have been taught since our baptism was meant to enable us to respond when the hour arrives.

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