Back in 2003 or 2004, I volunteered to write a couple of reflections for a Virginia Conference devotional called A Summer Read. One was a hymn about the sabbath called “On the Seventh Day God Rested and the other was a poem titled “Daughter.” When I wrote it, I had only been a father for a short while after the birth of my oldest daughter Ellen. Based upon Mark 7:24-37, it imagines the unfolding of Ellen’s life until she leaves home, a day that I thought at the time would come much, much less quickly than it has. I offer this as a meditation for Fathers’ Day.
Reveille United Methodist Church
Trinity Sunday – June 7, 2020
Amos 5: 21-24
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
There is a temptation, in a sermon like this one, preached on a day like today, for a white pastor like me from a mainline Protestant denomination like ours, to a white congregation like Reveille to follow a very well-trod path. This path typically begins with a quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and then makes a left-turn somewhere around a quote from the Epistle to the Galatians, where Paul speaks of how in Christ there is “no longer Jew nor Greek, no longer male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The path continues towards a vague statement of Jesus’ commandments to love our neighbors, and how this commandment is inextricably linked to his commandment to love God, all before the white preacher reassures the white congregation that hearing all of these non-specific entreaties on love and unity are all the gospel requires of us, and as such, that everything is going to be all right.
I should know. I am sure at some point I have preached this sermon.