Today’s sermon is presented in the form of a poem that I wrote as I pondered and prayed on the scriptures assigned for this week and considered all that has been happening in our nation and world in this past month.

I heard that they
Stormed the Capital
A new chapter in low
For a nation invited to go high

There is a special place in hell
For those who cry freedom
But only for the few, only for themselves
And there, but for the grace of God go I
Or any of us.

There is a special place in hell
For those who say they pray
Yet break into the prayer circles of others
Gathered peaceably
Breaking in to act out their racist taunts
Tropes as old as the slavery that
Stains this nation
And all of our lives.

And this is not freedom -
Assaulting others with words and action
It is the special laughter of a special hell
Spilling over onto our streets
Let loose from dark places nursed in confused hearts
And there, but for the grace of God go I
Or any of us.

Oh God, let me not stand high and mighty
Setting myself above those

All we like sheep have gone astray.
All we like that man with the unclean spirit,
Whom you freed so long ago,
Need you, oh Christ, to purify us by
Your pure and loving Authority.

All we who would love a better love
Who would climb a higher mountain
To go high and not low
We must confess our culpability
Our collective sin that could make
Space in this great nation
For a sin as great as racism to fester and brew
An unclean spirit in our collective hearts
Until festering this unclean spirit grew and though
Temporarily stemmed in its tide
By the freedom rides and the
No more backs of buses and the
Marching onward of good trouble
With hymns for strength and praise of You

Nevertheless, this unclean spirit
Grew in private chat rooms
Online gaming back rooms
People’s living rooms
Conspiracy theories with no basis in truth
Only a false roof over its head to turn
Hearts into lead and send hot heads to do
Stupid things like storm the capital.

“Stupid” is such an ugly word
I tell my children to choose another
We must tell our children
And grandchildren and grandparents and neighbors
To choose
Not just another word but another way
We, too, must choose another way
If we would build a brighter day
If we would see justice roll down like a river
And freedom, true freedom reign

All things are possible by Your hand and
When Your heart, oh Christ, becomes our heart
By Your power even the creatures of hell
That seek to inhabit can be expelled
From our lives, from our nation, from this world
Oh, may the creatures of hell find no refuge
In this world or the next, may they
Find no refuge in us as You, God become again
Our only home:

The mansion with many rooms
There is a place for all
Room enough for all
Room enough and you call for us -
Will we listen?

Allow you to turn our hearts of stone
Into spacious homes
A spacious nation
A spacious world?

Make in us a clean heart oh God
And renew a right spirit within me.
Renew a right spirit within me.
Renew a right spirit within me.