Sunday night, June 21, 2015, Father’s Day, Austin, Texas.
The images of today were anticipated and no less, surprising. In reverse order.
Has been the case for at least the last 50 years, when church-joining was not a generation-to-generation event. When a family leaves their first church visit, even before starting the car for departure from the church parking lot, the tell-tale question, spouse to spouse, “What’d you think of the sermon?” SO MUCH of worship for folk, especially when all spins around if not pivots off the sermon, the sermon gives worship both its value and credibility. For many.
Today for me the value of the worship—not that the sermon unpacking the realities of fear and faith wasn’t helpful—was powerful, in this manner: On the altar were 9 votum candles, for the 9 murdered in Charleston, the church rang their tower bell 9 times for worship to begin, the opening prayer named each of the 9 victims—full name, the choir sang an inspiring anthem that made it clear, “God Defeats Death” and as a layperson read the Epistle lesson, she stopped following the second verse and openly wept. Nobody dropped a pin…but if such happened, you could hear it. Such a wonderful worship experience this morning, helping to focus where we need to focus.
Then. My wonderful clergy colleague, Joanne Carlson Brown, pastor at Tibbett’s United Methodist Church in West Seattle, sent a copy of her morning sermon. In it she brought so much strength and love…especially this, a quote I had not heard or read before. The message is a call for each of us to be maladjusted. Here…from Joanne…a woman of wisdom and courage and great inspiration:
“If you will bear with me just a while longer, I’d like to read a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that is a challenge to us and something which we can work to be. It is from his speech before the YMCA and YWCA of California, June 4, 1957 entitled “The Power of Nonviolence”: (apologies for the non-inclusive language – he was a man of his time)”
“Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word. It is the word ‘maladjusted.’ Now we all should seek to live a well adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities. But there are some things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call you to be maladjusted. I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to mob rule. I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic effects of the methods of physical violence and to tragic militarism.
I call upon you to be maladjusted to such things.
I call upon you to be as maladjusted as Amos who in the midst of the injustices of his day cried out in words that echo across the generation: Let Justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. As maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln who had the vision to see that this nation could not exist half slave and half free. As maladjusted as Jefferson, who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery could cry out: All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth who dreamed a dream of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.”
Amen to worship. Amen to Joanne. A new day is to dawn…let’s make it more than a good idea.