I wrote this on Saturday, Jan. 20 and read it in Worship the following day. I have been asked to share a copy with you.
Before we can sing our first words of praise to God this morning, I believe there are words that I – that we – must speak. Words are powerful – they matter. Every time they are spoken – they matter. In every place where they are spoken – they matter. And when they are spoken by the man who holds the highest office in this nation – who holds that office because we as a nation put him there, and gave him the power to represent all of us by virtue of that office – those words matter.
When they reflect the blatant racism and ignorance of his heart – then we must speak, too. When our president openly and repeatedly curses African and Haitian people, deeming them less desirable immigrants than the white people of Norway – those words matter. They echo around the world, they shame any American with integrity, and they offend God. Those words offend and anger and break the heart of God.
If we do not speak against them now – then where and when will we speak? If we do not speak against the sin of racism – we are complicit in it. If we are silent before God – in this place – we have no right to praise God and the worship we would bring is meaningless to a holy and righteous God. Because our words matter.
It has been 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated. He was killed because of his words – because he named the sinful racism which lives and hides deep within our hearts; and because he dared to dream that we could be better than that. Fifty years, and if we want to believe that we have made progress toward that dream, that we have overcome that sin, that this nation has healed, we need only listen to this president’s words – words spoken in the past and again this week. Hear the words spoken in what he considered a private setting, not those read from a prepared script as he proclaimed tomorrow a federal holiday in honor of Dr. King.
Listen to those words, and then listen to the relative silence, the lack of response and outrage across America.
Before we can praise God, we must first repent before the God who created all people; we must ask forgiveness on behalf of ourselves and our nation; and ask God for the courage to speak words of reconciliation and love, courage to live as those who will no longer tolerate racism, prejudice, and hatred as the norm in our country.
I invite you to take a few moments of silence to speak your words to God,
as we prepare to worship God.