This was a casual reflection given without notes, see the video above.
The Emanuel 9, killed by Dylann Roof on June 17, 2015: CLEMENTA PINCKNEY MYRA THOMPSON SHARONDA COLEMAN-SINGLETON DEPAYNE MIDDLETON-DOCTOR DANIEL SIMMONS CYNTHIA HURD ETHEL LANCE SUSIE JACKSON TYWANZA SANDER
So, here we are on music Sunday! And I know… there is not one of us who does not love some form of African American music. We are all proud of our nation’s heritage of Gospel, Folk, Blues, Country, Rock n’ Roll and Jazz—R&B, Hip Hop, Dance, Pop, Showtunes and more! You must know, all the roots of all these genres are firmly planted in the songs of lament and hope, joy and perseverance of the Black people of our nation’s history and present.
When we as white folks share these songs, and when we listen closely to the meaning of all these kinds of music, we do very important work. These songs, and especially our hymn of the day chosen today by Brian, these songs are Black songs. Beautiful Black songs about Black stories for Black people, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Getting ready to talk with you all today, about Pentecost, about the festival when we remember the Holy Spirit coming to the earliest church, I was talking with my wife Maddy about the color red. It’s the color that represents the fire of the Holy Spirit we heard about in the lesson from Acts. I asked her what she thought about the color red, what it represents to her. And as she scrolled through social media full of pictures of protest and grief, she said anger.
She said anger and she’s right, red does mean anger in our culture. And one way or another, this week we have all been seeing red. Our nation is seething with anger. Raw from anxiety in this pandemic, anger begets more anger.
We’ve done something this morning as a community, that we haven’t done in a while! Not since Holy Thursday, actually, on April 5th. We have confessed our sin. Now, normally, the Sundays after Easter are a very happy and joyful time. We celebrate Christ’s victory over death, and the completion of God’s plan to restore us to our true identity as God’s children. So, lately, in celebration, we have been thanking God for our baptism, the sign of this true identity, as Pastor Krey and myself have been splashing around in the baptismal font.
But, this morning we confessed instead—something equally as beautiful as baptism, I think.
[This casual reflection was given without notes. The following is a transcript.]
So as Tim advances your slides (thank you so much Tim B. for your help this evening) you will see a little snippet from a painting. This is a painting by a painter in the 19th century named Albert Pinkham Ryder, one of my favorites. He makes these very small paintings and they’re very unusual techniques, they’re like layered, sometimes he painted on leather. So, here you can see a giant fish in the corner, it’s kind of comical actually—spooky and funny at the same time—and then at the bottom there’s Jonah. He’s like, “Noo!!”
This evening I want to talk about Jonah and the deeps…
This Easter Gospel from John is about a lot of things. It’s about overturned expectations. It’s about fear and unknowing and joy all mixed up. It’s about a personal encounter with the risen Jesus. But most of all, it’s about a woman named Mary Magdalene.
We watch poor Mary, from the fishing village of Magdala, go through so many gut-wrenching emotions. Gut-wrenching emotions we have become all too familiar with ourselves in this past month of social distance and pandemic: disbelief, fear, anger, and tearful grief.
I want you to know how unusual, how scandalous it is, that in John, and in the other Gospels too, the resurrection story is told through the eyes of women. In all the Gospels the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus are the first appearance of Mary of Magdala.