May 31, 2020
+ Well, I had a whole other sermon prepared for today.
Originally, I had planned to say that, on this Pentecost Sunday, we have so much to celebrate.
On Friday, we learned that John Anderson will be ordained to diaconate on June 14—just two weeks from today.
And that is very exciting.
But then, last night, as we all know by now, downtown Fargo erupted in protests.
I could hear the booms from my porch.
Some of you could probably smell the tear gas.
And all of this after peaceful protests earlier in the day that seemed to go well.
And this is where we are this morning.
We are in this strange place.
And we are seeing clearly that what we are now is what we have been for the last few years.
Truly a divided nation.
A nation that is divided and angry and frustrated.
A nation that is struggling.
A nation that is on the verge, at times, of violence.
Even in Fargo-Moorhead.
We don’t get to be complacent anymore here.
We don’t get to use our old excuses.
We don’t get to say:
“That stuff is stuff happens elsewhere.”
“That stuff happens in the big city, in Minneapolis, in Chicago, in Atlanta or Los Angeles or New York.”
It happens here too.
And what do we do when the violence and the anger “out there” start making themselves known “right here?”
We wring our hands.
We gave in to shock and amazement at what is happening in streets that are so familiar to us.
The fact is, on this Pentecost Sunday, in this tumultuous, frightening time, we know what we have to do as followers of Jesus.
We are not to fear.
We are to love.
Love our neighbors, love our sisters and brothers, love those who hurt and who are in pain, who are frustrated and angry.
And we are to be righteously angry.
Angry at the society that has allowed the violence that killed George Lloyd.
Anger at inequality and racism and white supremacy and complacency.
Angry at an unjust system that continues to allow violence.
Angry at instigators and outside forces and other violent people who come into our community to perpetuate violence.
Angry that we can’t even peacefully protest without outside forces coming in and disrupting our efforts at peace.
Today, on this Pentecost Sunday, in which we hope and long for the Spirit of our loving God to come to us, to fill us with peace and love, we know that that is now what is filling us today.
But that same Spirit is also the Spirit of a God who hates injustice, who hates violence, who hates racism, who hates when the least of us is struck down and murdered.
That Spirit is also dwelling with us today.
That Spirit has also descened upon today.
And so, what do we do on this Pentecost Sunday?
How do we respond?
We respond the only we know how to respond as followers of Jesus.
We respond with love.
We respond with love in a world that seems to be dominated by hatred and violence.
We respond as the compassionate, loving, peaceful people are as followers of loving, compassionate, peaceful Christ.
We respond by working, in whatever small way we can, to change this world for the better.
We respond by not feeding the flames of anger and violence.
We respond by not perpetuating stereotypes and prejudices.
We respond by recognizing our own prejudices and striving to destroy them form ourselves.
And while the world around us rages, we, commanded by our God to love and to seek peace in this world, do so even as chaos reigns.
We respond by not only speaking out against injustice and violence, but by doing whatever we can in our world.
That is what we do on this Pentecost Sunday, in this divided America, in this city in which violence and fear and anger have touched us.
We, the lovers of justice, the strivers for peace, the workers for inclusion, have much work ahead of us.
And so, let us love and love fully.
Let peace reign within us, even while violence rages about us.
And let us strive, even in a world that seems so out-of-control, for peace, for equality, for those who have no voice, for those who are abused and neglected and discarded.
Let us love—and love fully.
And when we do, that is when the Spirit of our Loving God is truly present within us.
Let us pray.
Come, O Holy Spirit, come!
Come as the fire and burn.
Come as the wind and cleanse,
Come as the light and lead,
Increase in us your gifts of grace.
Convict, convert, and consecrate us, until we are wholly yours.