Excerpted from Father Dave’s sermon on Feb. 26, 2017, the last Sunday of Epiphany:
At the end of Black History Month, I was watching a program which traced some of the evolution — to date — of the lie and sin which is racism, and the very slow healing of that sin.
One aspect of that sin of which I am aware, but have become more deeply aware, is the ironic presence of that sin within the Church.
I’ve always been fascinated by our history. We brought men and women from Africa almost as if we were herding cattle. Yet the black persons we treated so cruelly found within the faith we proclaimed a liberating faith of their own, and celebrated it — often in secret — with a joy and strength that, at times, embarrasses me.
Perhaps that’s why Christianity came to bring faith and healing to those we treated as less than God’s children. We preached it, they lived it!
The black churches live the Resurrection and have done so for years. To this day, their celebration of our common faith seems more deep and joyful than ours. It seems as if it is the spiritual life blood of those who we whites sinned against.
We pay lip service to it, especially at Easter. So we at St. Stephen’s struggle to hold on, while our fellow Christians across the street need to use a good share of our parking lot on Sundays.
McKeesport is in desperate need of recovery. I’ve known and in some ways experienced its history for the past 40 years. It’s gone from a roughness around the edges to some deep wounds within.
Resurrection lies on the other side of death. The faith we proclaim celebrates Easter after Good Friday. In a sense, you’ve got to die before you can be raised from the dead.
Are we at St. Stephen’s being led by our Lord to live the Resurrection we preach?
Maybe we are at a place to live our faith in a real and deeper way, and to do it together with some help that God seems to be sending our way.
Let’s be the Church Triumphant, and share it with the many just beyond our doors in desperate need to move through despair to new life and a shared faith.
I’m asking each of you to write down and share your thoughts on how, together, we might move beyond survival and begin, as a Church, to live the Resurrection. I’m serious! I want each of you to put together a paragraph with your ideas on how to invite God to resurrect us.
You can keep it anonymous if you choose, but it’s vital that you be heard. It we are to move forward, it’s important that we have a consensus on how to do so. We need to let go of survival and let the Resurrection begin.
If you want to say I’m off-base — that’s OK. But I believe in miracles — in resurrection.
God is ready! Are you?
—Excerpted from the Rev. J. David Else’s Sermon for the Last Sunday of Epiphany, 2017