This Sunday our readings confront us with the uncomfortable reality that the good news causes division and conflict (Luke 12). Of course the good news brings reconciliation, healing, peace and joy to the whole world. But the love of God made known and incarnate in Jesus also compels us to seek reconciliation, healing, peace and joy in the name of Christ for every human being and indeed for every creature. And this brings us into direct confrontation with people who do not want reconciliation, healing, peace, and joy for every human being. We can’t keep silent in response to idolatry, hatred, or discrimination, any more than we can fail to lament, repent, and seek just reparations for two hundred fifty years of slavery, ninety years of Jim Crow, sixty years of separate but equal, and thirty-five years of discriminatory housing policy based on race. At the same time we have to engage in every sort of conflict without losing Christ’s peace. We have to combat disease without losing Christ’s healing. We have to encounter despair without losing Christ’s joy. We have to confront hate without losing Christ’s love.
We cannot engage in these battles relying on our own strength. The good news about the good news is that God sends into moral and spiritual battle with the gift and power of the Holy Spirit who forgives, redeems, and renews us not because we deserve it, but because God loves us.
5 p.m. Saturday, August 17 at St. John’s, Richmond the Diocese of Virginia will hold a service of lament, reconciliation and commitment for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in Virginia. Next Sunday, August 25 at 3pm, St. Luke’s will join people of every faith in ringing bells for the same purpose.