A Cup of Hope
We were standing on Sacred Ground.
Beautiful flower arrangement surrounded us.
Candles twinkled lighting a pathway in front of us.
There was a silence, a silence, that Is hard to describe…it was like entering into an empty Cathedral, whose stone blocks out all of the outdoor noise, and whose doors bring you into a new world.
We were standing on Sacred Ground.
You could feel the prayers that had been offered in the space.
You could see the pain, the struggle, in the tears that had fallen to the ground below your feet.
It was a familiar space. One that I had stood on before, but yet, one that continues to bring me to stillness every time.
We were standing on Sacred Ground….
You could smell the coffee brewing and growing in strength.
And then a voice in the distance saying “Hey Revs, would you like a cup of coffee?” soon followed behind the smell.
And then as my friend Devon and I turned around there stood a man, holding two cups of coffee in his hands, climbing over the snow banks to reach us.
“My name is Charles” he said, “my family and I just opened up a coffee shop across the street. We want to provide people the energy and strength to provide hope and love to the world, one cup at a time”.
“Wow. Thank you, Devon said”
“Welcome to George Floyd Square, Charles responded, are you both Pastors here?”
Devon let Charles know that she serves as a Priest in Minneapolis, and I followed up, letting him know that I was visiting from New Jersey, where I serve as a Priest as well.
“It is a good time to be a Christian” Charles responded back. He then went on to share that he belonged to one of the local Baptists churches.
“Have you ever seen a memorial like this before?” Charles asked me.
I nodded my head. Unfortunately, I have prayed at other sacred grounds such as this I responded. …Pulse Night Club in Orlando where a friend of mine went to dance, Chardon High School, just a few blocks away from my childhood home where the graduating class behind me experienced a nightmare they will never forget, and in the Cuddell Neighborhood, where my last Church in Cleveland was, where Tamir Rice went to play and never returned. Just to name a few.
Each one is unique. But, they are all Sacred Ground.
“We have to do something, Devon said”.
“That’s why I am a Christian, Charles responded….I see our faith, as one that teaches that we have to do more than pray and worship in our buildings, I see our faith, as one that calls us to enter into every space, and time of struggle and pain, and to give of our time and energy to bring a voice of change, of hope, of justice, of love. That’s who our God is. And man, he said…there are so many places of struggle, and pain, and suffering right now. So what a time to be a person of faith”.
There was a moment of stillness, and a feeling of peace, and encouragement that took over my body as I heard Charles speak about his faith. And in the distance, we began to hear shouting.
What’s that I asked?
More suffering and struggles…. our teachers went on strike today, he said. So, they are doing God’s work and using their feet and voices to call for equality.
Do you think we can pray, I asked?
Devon chimed in; I was just thinking that. We need it.
Charles joined in and said “I know you both are reverends, but is it okay if I lead?
I would love it! I responded.
And on Chicago Avenue, on George Floyd Square, the three of us held hands, and Charles began to sing: We Shall Overcome, we shall Overcome, We Shall overcome Someday, Oh deep in my heart, I do believe, We Shall Overcome Some Day.
We were standing on Sacred Ground.
And it wasn’t just the coffee that energized us that day.
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we boast in our hope,
we boast in our sufferings,
We rejoice in our hope, We rejoice in our sufferings
because we know that our God’s Love gives us the endurance to travel through.
In today’s Epistle, Paul gives assurance to Rome that God’s promise to bring peace, to bring love, to bring healing, to bring justice to this world is fulfilled in the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Paul explains to the Church in Rome, Paul explains to the Church in Westfield, NJ, that God’s promise to bring peace to the world is here RIGHT NOW, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul explains to us that God is a live among us, that God continues to dwell with us, that Peace is made possible through our ministry. Through our work.
St. Paul’s, living in a broken, troubled, and suffering world, is not new to the Gospel story
Our God was born in a manger, in a time of political conflict in the world.
Our God walked among us, proclaiming a message of Love in a world that refused to hear it, receive it, and live it.
Our God’s Spirit continues to travel with us, in the world we find ourselves in today….
- A world where lives of children are lost in their place of learning and play.
- A world where thoughts and prayers fail to leave the walls of our religious institutions to become actions, policies, and a faith lived out loud.
Our God continues to travel with us in a suffering and troubled world:
- A world where rights are at risk of being lost
- Where voices on the margins are continued to be overshadowed by the majority
- A world, where division grows,
- A world where seeing and honoring the value in another is being loss,
- A world where the songs and cries of hopes and dreams are being
And yet, as we gather on this day, our God in our scripture lessons, our God through the voice of the barista in Minneapolis, reminds us that living in a world of suffering and pain and struggle, is a world where our God is still very much present—
Where living in a world of suffering and pain and struggle is Where disciples of our God are called to do that loving, liberating and life-giving work.
The work that says “We shall overcome some day”
The work that says “We shall not be afraid today”
The work that says “We shall walk hand in hand today” because deep in our hearts, we do BELIEVE.
On this Trinity Sunday, it is easy to get lost in wanting to understand and unpack how Three can be in one. It is easy today, to argue about Creeds, about language, about Church theologies and doctrine. Creating even more of an “Us vs. Them” climate.
But, if we really want to understand the power of Trinity Sunday, if we really want to understand our God, we must begin with understanding the relationship that our God has with us.
THAT is what is revealed to us in scripture today.
We have a God who is not distant, who is here with us through our joys, our sorrows, our brokenness, and struggles.
We have a God who created us in love to be LOVE,
A God who walked among us to show what a human life can do if they truly believe that this world can change,
and a God who promises and who continues to dwell in every fiber of our being, to guide our feet, to empower, to encourage us, to live a life where we strive to change this world.
On This Trinity Sunday, on this Sunday following where we celebrated the Birthday of the Church, the Spirit of God being among us, Pentecost, we are being reminded that we are to go and share that Spirit, to do the relational work that our relational God has called us to do: TO BE GOD’s hands, eyes, feet, and words of Peace in this world.
On this Trinity Sunday, we are reminded that the Trinity, Calls us to be a loving, liberating and life-giving community.
St. Paul’s, we are standing on Holy Ground.
Right here in this building, on the sidewalks that surround us, and the yards that go beyond our vision:
-Change is needed
-Sorrows are occurring
-Fear is a live
So, What a perfect time, to be a Christian.
As we go our separate ways this day, my prayer for you is that you answer the call that God has bestowed upon you: to live a life that will make you uncomfortable, that will challenge the way we all live, move and have your being in this world, a life where in all that you do, you bring the radical message of our God.
A message that turns our world upside down, and converts our struggles into opportunities.
My prayer for you this day, is that you never feel that you are walking this journey a lone. That you never forget me, that I may never forget you. That you may feel the presence of your fellow disciples walking with you—hand in hand. That you remember that Gods spirit keeps us bound to one another.
My prayer for you is that you believe deep in your heart that you are loved. And that we shall overcome some day.
So my friends, As that Good ol’ Franciscan Blessing says:
May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your hearts.
May God Bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tiresly work for justice, freedom and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able with God’s grace, to do what other claim cannot be done.
God Love you St. Paul’s.
Now go and change the world. Amen.