Now, as terrible as it is to have to admit this, we Christians have had two thousand years to be turning things around, and while baby steps have been made here and there, we’ve been a part of unspeakable violence and murder. Certainly there’s little doubt that the greatest blot on mankind in recent memory, the Holocaust, was perpetrated by a largely Christian nation upon the Jewish people. Let’s just admit that, and admit the complicity of indifference that did not confront the evil until it was too late. Similarly, the genocides of native peoples of the Americas by European settlers was rationalized by a strategy of christianization; the genocides of the Balkans and even of Rwanda were acts of Christians against Muslims in the one case and members of another tribal group in the latter case. We’ve given out as much as we’ve received, that much is clear. Nationalism has created thicker bonds between us than baptismal water, and it is a lie, because there is no bond deeper than the baptismal bond. I myself have been too often silenced by the proclamation that I only have the freedom I have to disagree with, in my case, “the American way” because others have fought and died for that freedom. Now I’m beginning to see that that’s a lie, that is civilization's way of keeping itself going by continuing to reject the God of life, the one who sometimes leads a ragtag band across the desert from exile to start over, the God who joins the race as a member of a dominated culture, and dies by capital punishment at the hands of imperial power. We need to rethink this violence of preservation, or else give up our self-designation as a “Christian” nation.
Remember Christiane Amanpour’s ongoing articles on signs of hope in areas of the world where there have been epidemics of genocide? We slowly come to know the horrors of these things through the truth and reconciliation committees in place in so many locations. Brave witnesses and even victims come forward to tell the truth. They expose for us the ugly truth that counterfeit communities of “in groups” form in these genocidal situations, and that previously normal neighbors who had worked together and intermarried become murderous thugs, torturers, and rapists. These counterfeit communities, like street gangs in cities all over the world, are doing for evil and the dehumanization of the planet the very opposite of what true religion is for, that is, to bind people together in communities of mutuality and respect. Today as in the days of Isaiah, John the Baptizer, and the persecutions of Christians by the Roman empire, there are forces in the world that seek to victimize and scapegoat groups of outsiders. There are strategies of grace at work in these horrible conditions. There are heralds of good news in every walk of life, bringing life to places that are full of death and horror, making the path straight for the return of God’s people.
|Natalie Dubose, Ferguson bakeshop owner|
So we sing this weekend the words of Psalm 85: Lord, let us see your kindness! Grant us your salvation. Put the accent on “us” when you pray it. In other words, we know you save, God. We know you are kind. Let us see it. In my paraphrase we’re using at St. Anne’s, I put it even more explicitly in the refrain:
Let me taste your mercy like rain on my face.
Here, in my life, show me your peace.
Let us see with our own eyes your day burning bright.
Come, O Morning. Come, O Light.
Here’s the rest of our music for the weekend:
Gathering: Come to Us, O Emmanuel (Haugen, GIA)
Psalm 85: Your Mercy Like Rain (Cooney) The link goes to the "Songstories" post on this blog about "Your Mercy Like Rain," which has a SoundCloud excerpt embedded. Give it an audition, if you haven't heard it before. Mysteriously, it disappeared from Gather between versions 1 and 2. Sigh.
Preparation Rite: Come, O Lord (Damean Music, GIA)
Communion: The Wilderness Awaits You (Cooney, GIA) This also links to the appropriate "Songstories" post about "Wilderness," which is, as I see it, one of my best songs.
Closing: On Jordan’s Bank (traditional, #321 in Gather). As an option at the Sunday night mass where the teens participate, we’ll be using Come, Emmanuel by Tony Alonso, his litanic and upbeat adaptation of the plainsong hymn.