Written by: Rachael Keefe

Unity and Liberation: A Sermon for Easter 7C on Acts 16:16-34 and John 17:20-26

Doubt abounds when it should be unity and liberation. Pandemic. Mass shootings. War. Suicide. Super storms. Earthquakes. Floods. Drought. Disease.These events and many more things can cause us to question …

Unity and Liberation: A Sermon for Easter 7C on Acts 16:16-34 and John 17:20-26

Doubt abounds when it should be unity and liberation. Pandemic. Mass shootings. War. Suicide. Super storms. Earthquakes. Floods. Drought. Disease.These events and many more things can cause us to question our faith. And they should. For centuries human beings have been blaming God for things we are often the cause of. We want God to reach down from heaven and fix everything. That’s not the way it works. It’s not the way it ever worked.

When the Bible was written, people understood the world through a theocentric lens. If bad things were happening it was because God was displeased. If good things were happening it was because God was pleased. On the surface, this seems okay. Go a little deeper, though, and this is bad news indeed.

None of those children deserved to die in Texas this week. No one deserved to die in that grocery store in New York or that church last week. The people in Ukraine are not being punished with war. The farmers in regions that are flooding or those in drought are not being cursed for a lack of faith. People do not deserve sickness or disease as a punishment for sin anymore than people deserve wealth and success as a reward for their actions or beliefs.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ prayer for his followers is unity. When Paul and Silas are freed by an earthquake, we are meant to understand the faith is liberating. If faith does not unite us and liberate all, then we are missing something. God is not the great ATM in the sky where we put in our request and get exactly what we ask for.

God is the truly the “ground of our being” to quote Tillich. God is at the core of who we are. God is the unconditional, universal love that calls us beyond our instincts for self-protection. God binds us one to another, and to Creation. If we want to change the way the world is, we must act differently. God will not fix what we have broken.

It is proper to pray for guidance, wisdom, grace, strength healing, love, insight, courage, etc. However, God will not repair the broken places in the world except through human beings. If we are willing to open ourselves to the will of God, a will that is just and good always and everywhere, then unity and liberation will follow.

The time has come to leave behind our notions of a God who will punish or bless based on our actions. Instead, let us turn to the God who loves unconditionally and universally. It is highly unlikely that God will miraculously end all that destroys or harms us. However, it is very likely that if we seek the way of Love, we will leave behind our destructive, harmful ways.

Remember Elijah? God is not in the destructive forces. God is in the stillness that follows, or the stillness that is deep within. There is no divine lesson in the murder of innocent children, though there is a human one. How many more children have to die before we learn the lesson taught long ago to Abraham? God does not require the sacrifice of our children?

Jesus wasn’t a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ death was the result of very human fear and love of kyriarchy. Jesus’ purpose was to teach us how to love one another. And the world did not tolerate Love. Human beings murdered Jesus because they were not ready to live in unity and liberation.

Resurrection teaches us that human violence and our fear-based capacity for destruction is not the end. There is another way. We can choose to live and act differently. We can choose love. We can choose faith. We can choose liberation. We can choose to follow holy ways rather than human ones.

God is waiting for us, yearning for us, to choose the unifying, liberating power of faith in the One who loves us. Isn’t it time we stopped living by fear and started living in love?

RCL – Easter 7C – May 29, 2022 – Acts 16:16-34  • Psalm 97  • Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21  • John 17:20-26

Online home of the Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe.
Image courtesy of Kev via pixabay
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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

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