Thursday, June 15, 2006

Part II of Michael Curry's sermon at the U2Charist

Part I can be found here.

I am convinced that these Millenium Development Goals, and our embrace of them passionately as an act of Gospel-based discipleship, is a way for us to discover live again as a church. (Yeah! and applause)

And I'm convinced, because Brother Bono has shown us the way. God will always have a witness, and if the church doesn't give it, U2 will! (Laughter and applause). And I'm convinced, because, I'm getting into the music, you all gotta help me--I'm an old man without rhythm. You can tell people you saw a Black man without rhythm! (Laughter) But I am convinced that brother Bono has shown us the way by lifting up a compelling vision of the world transformed from the nightmare it often is to the dream that God has intended from the very beginning. That he has dared to claim the high ground, and as he has claimed the high ground, folks have gathered around him.

I can't think of any other context, or any other person, who has brought Jesse Helms to the table, and Jesse Jackson to the table. (Laughter and applause). When you claim the high ground, all will stand--all will rise. Can I get a witness this night? (Yeah!)

And as we engage in this work, as we go forth, passionately convinced that poverty *must* become history, that suffering *must* end, that war must become obsolete (Yeahs and Amens) then the world will not only find its light, but we will find ours.

Well, let me conclude it now--I really am gonna stop. (Laughter) Y'all know the definition of an optimist? An optimist is somebody who believes the preacher when he says "And in conclusion..." But I do mean it, honestly.

I was probably about 13 if I remember correctly. And I don't remember what I said or did, but my father responded to whatever I said--now think about being 13--responded to whatever I said, with, "You know, the Lord didn't put you here just to consume the oxygen!" Now, like I said, I don't know what I said to precipitate that, and I don't know if it was a considered philosophical or theological statement, or just responding to 13 year old hormones, but the more I live and the older I get, the more I am convinced that there is profound wisdom in that.

"The Lord didn't put you here just to consume the oxygen." Now, let me exegete that briefly for a moment. (Laughter) Why are you all laughing--I did go to seminary, now!
"The Lord didn't put you here just to consume the oxygen." The operative word in the sentence here is just. Which is sort of like the one where Moses and then later Jesus said "One does not live by bread alone". You don't live by bread alone. So that the operative word is alone--'cause you do need bread! But bread by itself ain't enough. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow." Huh? Life is more than food...

But in this statement, "The Lord didn't put you here just to consume the oxygen", just is the operative word, 'cause you do need oxygen! In fact, the truth of the matter is, we are here in part to consume the oxygen.

Think about it now, when you inhale, what do you inhale? Oxygen! And when you exhale, what do you exhale? Carbon dioxide! Oh, this is an educated crowd, see? You exhale carbon dioxide. The entire animal world, if you will, inhales oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide. The plant world, on the other hand, does what? It takes *in* the carbon dioxide, and it *releases* oxygen.

Help me somebody--that's not an accident! This world has been created in a symbiotic relationship so that we and the creation are in relationship--it gives, we receive, we receive and then give. We were *made* to give *and* receive, and life is lived when we give and receive, when we love and are loved--(loud long applause) and we will find our life in that giving and receiving.

Now let me bring this to a conclusion. (Laughter) The Hebrew word for spirit--one of them--is ruach. Over there is Dr. Jeffrey R--(?) He's responsible for all of this--he was one of my teachers! But ruach and be translated, it can be translated spirit, right? It also can be translated "wind", and it can be translated "breath". Like "Breathe on me, breath of God, fill me with life anew..." But, it occurs to me that breath has something to do with oxygen. (Laughter) And breath has something to do with life! And if that is the case, then the spirit of God is not only the life of God, but the spirit of God is the source of all life, and my Jesus in the New Testament, quoting Isaiah, said this, and I quote, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, restore liberty to all those who are oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord. That spirit is upon us, and that spirit is the spirit that Jesus said follow me into. Follow me--and I will make you more than you ever thought you could be! Follow me--(applause drowning out some words) Follow me, and I will show you a life of love, that hate cannot defeat. Follow me, and I will show you a life of justice that injustice can *never* tear down. (Amen) Follow me, and I will show you life that not even the power of death can take away.

You shall receive power. We have already received power, for the Holy Spirit has already come among us, and we are His gifts. So go forth. Witness to a love that will not let you go. Witness to a compassion that knows no bounds. Witness to a kingdom and a dream of God, where all of us can find life, and hope, and happiness.

Don't be ashamed of that Gospel. And don't be afraid to stand up for that kingdom. So, you go on out and be an Episcopal witness. You go on out and take your little Episcopal Life in your hand (laughter) and then go forth in this world and end poverty, end hunger, end injustice, and war. So walk into this world and help God help establish God's reign and God's kingdom in this world.

My soul is a witness for my Lord! (Amen!)
God bless you!

Click here to visit the web site of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation.

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