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Trinity United church sermon (1 of 2)

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REV. OTIS MOSS III, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: We pray for our senior pastor. We pray for our member who is a public servant. We the community of Trinity are concerned, hurt, shocked, dismayed, frustrated, fearful, and heartbroken. Our hearts break at this moment. And my limited vocabulary is inadequate to describe the range of emotions flooding our spirits at this very time. We are caught, it seems, in a strange Greek tragicomedy, in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre within "No Exit." We are wounded, a wounded people, and our wounds, the bruises from our encounter with history has scarred our very souls. But yet, as I look out before the sea of these faces, faces of pain and confusion, but also of joy, I see the circumstances of our condition cannot touch certain things that God has placed in us. I see in your eyes, buried beneath the days of the bright lights, the faith and love of a wonderful people. In my short tenure as pastor I have witnessed the resilience of the human spirit touched by divine grace, transforming hopeless moment into daring moments of triumph. Just to name a few, we have seen mothers, single yet determined to raise decent, compassionate children in the middle of gang territory, and they tell us—they’ve told the pastoral staff, they have told you—that the reason that they are able to make it is because Trinity was a source of strength. Not just this, but the collective community of people who are the church. I heard and watched former addicts come to grips with addiction and claim that they were loved into sobriety by 30 or so members who refused to let them live a life of destruction. We have received numerous emails of couples who’ve turned from divorce because of our married couples ministry and marriage enrichment program. Churches are communities. Church is family. We are more than what someone else will define us as. I say this to you. You are a powerful and wonderful and beautiful people, and it does not go unnoticed, and I love you. I stand before you this day as pastor, and I pray as hopefully a prophetic clarifier. Our church has been wounded, but scripture is clear: we are hard-pressed on every side. One translation even says that we are knocked down but not defeated, down but not out and not destroyed. And the question that we must raise this day: how do we as a church make sure we remain whole? How do we move forward? How do we speak to the conflicting spirits flowing through our hearts about our beloved pastor, our senior pastor, and a beloved public servant? I must admit, I prayed and prayed asking God to clarify how we as a people must proceed. And it became abundantly clear as I searched the scriptures and reread the works of Howard Thurman. God is demanding we become, we remain whole, stay whole, remain whole as a people through the simplest yet most complex spiritual gift ever given to humanity, and that is love, for it is John I in the fourth chapter that reads, "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love." Divine love does not ask family to choose between family members. Divine love does not ask family to choose between family members. We as a people reject the script of a play—there was a play that has been passed down to our people, down through the years. It has been written by Jim and Jane. I will not tell you their last names. And this script, this play that they have asked us to be a part of, is a play entitled "Divide and Conquer." We reject the spirit of divide and conquer. We reject the spirit of negativity. We reject any lines drawn in the sand. We write a new chapter in the book of history, edited by our collective pain, but also edited and written by the love of Jesus Christ. We write a new declaration, not of independence. No, we do not write a Declaration of Independence to proclaim sovereignty from the Union Jack, but we write a declaration of interdependence, written by our very souls. And it goes like this. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all human beings are children of God, endowed with gifts, self-worth, divine purpose based on God’s love. We are born with certain rights and obligations from God to love one another, pray for each other, and encourage one another to live out our destiny in Jesus Christ, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. I’m so glad our God did not choose who he would save. I’m so glad that God’s love is so expansive that he did not say, "I’ll die for Jacob but not Esau. I’ll love Moses but not Aaron. I’ll encourage Joshua but not Deborah. I will lift up David but not Jonathan. I will hold Jeremiah but not Isaiah. I will lift up Amos but not Ezekiel. I will hold Matthew but not Mark. I will keep Luke but not John. I will hold Peter and not Paul. I will hold Stephen but not Timothy." When people ask you, when they call you, when they say, "Where do you stand?" tell them, "I stand with Jesus. We stand with God. We stand for Christ. We stand for community. We stand for our culture. We are Trinity. We are bruised but not broken. We are Trinity, a new church being burnt in the crucible of a public moment. We are Trinity, men and women, boys and girls, rich and poor, young and seasoned, north side, south side, west side, east side, no side. We’re African and Asian, Caribbean and Brazilian, German and Grenadian, Swedish and South African, Russian and Rwandan. We are Trinity. We are an ordinary people, but we serve an extraordinary God. God is not through with us yet. God is not through with us yet. God is not through with our senior pastor. God is not through with a public servant named Obama. God is not through with us. God is up to something. I can’t tell you what it is, but God is up to something, something that we are called to pray and reflect and struggle to live a life and a lifestyle of love. Let us move forward this day, beloved. Let us dare to imagine a new way to live. Imagine a church on the other side of this public moment. Imagine a church where children are loved. Imagine a church where males are taught to be men. Imagine a church where girls are empowered to be women. Imagine a church where elders are respected. Imagine a church where marriage is encouraged. Imagine a church committed to the eradication of poverty and illiteracy. Imagine a church where different does not mean deficient. Imagine a church where Africa is a part of your theology. Imagine a church where the Bible is taken seriously. Imagine a church where salvation and liberation meet. Imagine a place where the holy spirit is welcome. Imagine a place where the love of Jesus permeates everything we do. If you dare, have the courage to imagine. Imagine this moment. Imagine God taking us from this now to a place that we cannot see. But our divine imaginations, as we close our eyes, can’t you get a glimpse of what God is going to do in our lives? Can you imagine? Can you imagine?


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