Delivered at Ames UCC on March 17, 2019
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie
Sermons are the result of pastoral preparation, congregational presence, and Holy Spirit participation. Please join me in that mysterious but always delightful process at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays, except in July and August when times vary. Check the calendar for details.
Ours is a God of magnificent generosity—and so is that of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
Ours is a God of magnificent generosity—and so it that of Mother Emanuel AME.
Ours is a God of magnificent generosity—and so is that of Tree of Life Synagogue.
Ours is a God of magnificent generosity—and so is that of Al Noor Mosque.
Ours is a God of magnificent generosity—and so it that of Linwood Mosque.
But white people are so narrowly focused on making sure we get what is ours, or protecting what we perceive should only be ours, that we lose sight of that magnificent generosity and take up arms and blow away bodies.
The emotion behind that decision is as old as today’s story.
Jesus tells the story of a landowner.
This landowner hires day laborers. Off and on throughout the day, he hires more people. At the end of the day, the landowner pays everyone the same amount of money, both the people who started early in the morning and the people who did not start until the early evening.
The daylong workers grumble. They assumed they would get more money because they had worked more hours. The landowner replies to the daylong workers that they are getting paid exactly what was promised and that the paying of the same amount to others does not take away from what they have earned. The people who started to work in the morning got what they contracted for, so what is their problem?
Yeah, what is their problem? Why would the daylong workers begrudge the landowner the use of his own money if the landowner has treated them exactly as they expected?
Now, I know the answer: It isn’t fair. Why work all day when you can saunter in at the end and still afford to put food on the table? Why are those people getting something for nothing? It just isn’t fair.
On another Sunday I might have taken a bit of time to affirm that sense of unfairness. But those Sundays are past.
We white Christians cannot afford to give any room or any sympathy to pouting cries of unfairness by people who have lost nothing just because others have gained a little something. We can no longer afford to perceive the gain of others as a loss for us, even for a moment in response to an old, old, tale.
Those days are gone. Those days are as shredded by white supremacists and Christian nationalists as the bodies of elders, adults, teens, children, and infants on the floors of houses of prayers across this continent and the world.
So what are we to do? There are two recognized white supremacist hate groups in Iowa. We could go after them. But the problem is far more pervasive than the proud boys and alt-right leaders who formally organize.
The evil of white nationalism is writing its graffiti in blood across the walls of the sacred places of us all.
Moments later I received notice that someone had commented on the post. The comment didn’t readily make sense—was it supportive or nasty?—so I followed the link to the profile of the person who had made the comment.