Posts Tagged With 'Sermon'
Rev. Denise Anderson
Rev. Denise Anderson is the Coordinator for racial and intercultural justice for the Presbyterian Mission Agency and was the Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (2016). She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and continued her studies at Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C. She served as pastor of Unity Presbyterian Church in Temple Hills, Maryland and is a member of the NEXT Church strategy team.
On November 13, I gave a sermon on 1 John 3:18-21 and Exodus 3:1-15, asking three things of us as a congregation. One, to get out of our echo chambers by listening to those on the “other side of the aisle,” talking to and trying to understand one another; two, to remain vigilant about racially-charged speech; three, to be in solidarity with those at risk—to “walk each other home.”
Following that sermon, it became clear to me that getting out of our echo chambers is not always easy. The next Sunday, I shared that I wish my sermon had also included, “Please have those conversations in a safe venue, and have those conversations when you are ready. Many are about to go home for the holidays, and that is not always an easy space for those conversations! So, please be gentle with yourselves.”
I also said that we cannot wait on the other two points of that sermon: being vigilant about racially-charged speech and being in solidarity with those at risk. To that end, I announced that the session was sending a letter to the president-elect, asking him to use his authority to disavow the racially-charged rhetoric made during the campaign. The session voted unanimously to send the attached letter.
One might think that such an action would somehow be unusual or violate the separation of church and state. On the contrary, I believe that nearly every Presbyterian session I have ever served has sent some letter to the newly elected president. The focus of these letters has always been on what the president is called to, e.g., “now be the president to the whole nation.”
Our current session, in addition to assuring the president-elect of our prayers, asks him to use his authority to aid us in our work against racism by speaking out against racial attacks. Regarding the separation of church and state, the session’s letter addresses the rhetoric in the campaign, not the persons saying it. The church must always speak out against any form of oppression, but legally cannot endorse persons running for partisan office.
I encourage you to read the letter, which is intended to communicate a concern for justice and safety that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents among us all share.
Psalm 8 declares, “You have set your glory above the heavens.” Praise, praise, praise—that our lives may be an expression of praise. We often say during worship, “It is right to give thanks and praise,” which is a doxology—a word that means “to speak praise.” Doxology does not deny the pain or other realities of the world, nor does it withdraw and ignore the pain, suffering and grief that await when worship ends. Just as worship names that which is worthy, it also dismisses the competing claims upon our loyalty.
Our music, too, will be full of praise: Westminster members Linda and Roger Nelson will play string music at both services along with our new harpsichord, and then at 11:00a the Cherub Choir, Carol Choir, and Sanctuary Choir will sing together.
And fon’t forget us at 9:30a for roundtable conversations! We’ll consider if violence is ever justified, and if Jesus always condemned violence.
Finally, follow on to the dining room for a special meeting after the 11:00a service to elect the newly-formed Youth Minister Search Committee (YMSC).
Bring a friend or neighbor and join us Sunday as we celebrate and give praise to the God who created and sustains us.