Here you can listen to a selection of my sermons:
We attended the George Floyd Peace March in Houston yesterday as a white family of five in a sea of 60,000 #blacklivesmatter activists. As we approached the scene of the march, I tensed up. Groups were handing out surgical masks as COVID-19 precautions – very safety-minded. They were handing out water as well which was really nice because it was a 90 degree humid Texas afternoon. But one activist advised, “Everybody take two water bottles, one to drink and one to wash the tear gas out of your eyes.” Wow, things could potentially go South this afternoon. Then I looked around at my fellow protesters. Every hundred yard or so I would spot what I would have to call combat medics. They were part of the protest as you could tell from their clothing, but they also had military-style first aid kits strapped to their belts including tourniquet and all. We are prepared to get gassed and stop bleeding from our limbs. This is serious.
We marched for racial justice. We marched for the memory of George Floyd and all those who were killed before him. The most powerful chant went back and forth: “Say his name! – George Floyd! Say his name! – George Floyd! Say his name! – George Floyd!” He must not be forgotten as a person with a name. But then he also turned into a symbol because he is one out of so many black lives whose worth and dignity have been denied. The anger, frustration and fear on the streets these days is both, one week and four hundred years old. The systemic racism that stems from American slavery continues to turn a blind eye on police who forget their mission to protect and serve. Another powerful chant summed that up: “No justice, no peace! Prosecute the police!” A system that allows killers to go free needs to be called out until finally #blacklivesmatter.
I’m glad we went. Marching on the right side of history is always important. I’m also glad the relationship between protesters and police was appropriate yesterday. Everybody got to drink both water bottles.
Today, the Christian tradition celebrates Ascension Day – the day when Jesus was lifted up to heaven. The story is recorded in Acts 1:1-11. What strikes me is how the apostles were flabbergasted: “While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.”
That’s how dying and grief work: The apostles did not get closure because they never had the proper goodbye at a funeral, because Jesus became socially distant three days after his death. And now that it’s time to say farewell again, there is still that expectation that at some point he will come back. Those transitions are hard and nobody ever accepts them as finite. The angels even reinforce that in front of the grieving apostles: “They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'”
Barbara Karnes, RN, reminds family members of hospice patients that one to two weeks prior to death, the dying person may seem to converse with loved ones who have died before them. The transition from here to there is not always instantaneous but can take time and be confusing and Ascension Day reminds us that that’s okay.
During the corona crisis most of us are subjected to daily temperature checks. The numbers get repetitive. We actually have a Zoom meeting in the morning where 20+ people call out there temp. Today I turned that health chore into a spiritual reading. Just look up your temperature in the Book of Psalms!
I had 97.9 today which translates into:
“For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.”
What’s your temperature verse of the day?
Many kids around the world are out of school these days because of the Corona Virus. Military children have a good number of free programs available. This includes Guard and Reserve Families as well:
- Sesame Street for military families has apps for kids ages 2-8.
- Explora Primary features a database of colorful and fun resources that help children in grades K – 5 learn about animals, music, health, history, people and places, science, math and sports. It can be found in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library.
- EBSCO Learning Express provides eLearning tutorials, practice tests, e-books, flashcards and articles that help users build their skills in a wide array of core subjects for success in the classroom, on the job, and in life, including preparation for CLEP, DSST, ACT, SAT, GRE and more. It can also be found in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library.