By the Rev. Darren Miner
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Today is my 60th birthday, and I just came back from a weeklong vacation. So you might think that you would get a happy and relaxed sermon. Sorry! This sermon was written before my vacation, when pictures of drowned immigrants were still fresh in my mind.
In the Epistle appointed for today, St. Paul warns the Galatians: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.” I hope to God that the leaders of this nation, most of whom call themselves Christian, remember this warning. Desperate immigrants, who are tired of living in tent cities in Mexico, are drowning trying to find a place of refuge, a place of safety, for themselves and their children. They are dying of dehydration in the desert trying to escape the Hell they live in back home. They are willing to shred their flesh on barbed wire fences to get to this Promised Land. And the joking response of our President is that “the country is full.” “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked!”
The Collect of the Day that we prayed at the start of this service states: “O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor.” Well, folks, desperate Salvadorans are our neighbors. Desperate Hondurans are our neighbors. Desperate Guatemalans are our neighbors. Most of these would-be refugees are Christians, to boot. And as St. Paul reminds us, we are supposed to “work for the good of all, especially for those of the family of faith.”
When we hear stories about little children forcibly separated from their parents and guardians, when we hear stories about little children living in filthy holding cells on our nation’s southern border, our hearts break for just a moment. (At least, I hope they do!) Then, more likely than not, we hastily turn to another page of the newspaper, or we change the channel on our TV to something less distressing! Brothers and sisters, in the words of St. Paul, “let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Don’t turn the page of that newspaper before finishing that disturbing article! Don’t change that channel in the middle of that distressing story! Force yourself to contemplate the horror. Then, do something about it! Sign a petition. Write a letter to your senator. Write a letter to the President. March in a protest march, if your knees and hips are up to it. And when it comes time to elect new leaders, vote your faith, instead of your pocketbook; some things are more important than economic prosperity. And last but certainly not least, open your hearts in prayer to God for the courage and the strength to stand up to evil…again and again and again.
All too often, we feel powerless to effect real change. I know that feeling well. But today’s Gospel reading tells us something different. Christ sent out a paltry 70 disciples on a mission to proclaim Good News and to cure the sick. They were astounded at their own success—even the demons submitted to them. Well, brothers and sisters, at your baptism, you too were authorized by Jesus Christ; you too were empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim Good News to the poor, to bring healing to those who are hurting, and to subdue the evil powers of this world in the Name of Christ.
Christ gave power to his disciples some 2000 years ago, and he continues to give power to his disciples today. And you, like the 70 in the Gospel reading, are Christ’s disciples. To them and to you, he gave “authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” While I would not advise you to take Christ’s words literally, I would advise you to take them seriously. There are snakes and scorpions in our government. There are snakes and scorpions in big business. There are snakes and scorpions in the lobbies and special interests. There are snakes and scorpions on the cable news shows and on the Internet. And their toxin is now killing little children. It is time for us Christians to come together and to take action against these purveyors of poison. It is time for us to remind the principalities and powers of this world that “God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.”
© 2019 by Darren Miner. All rights reserved. Used by permission.