“As a person who, no matter what the world tries to tell me, is created in God’s image just as much as any man, as a mother of a daughter who, no matter what the world tries to tell her, is created in God’s image just as much as any boy, and after this past week in our world that we have all collectively endured, I can no longer stay silent.”
Shannon Johnson Kershner, Senior Pastor,
Fourth Presbyterian Church
Sunday, October 19, 2016
People have justifiably been lauding the First Lady’s speech last week as one of the most profound in recent memory. The entire nation needed to hear that speech even if individuals would ultimately decide to vote for someone other than the Mrs. Obama’s preferred candidate.
In a similar way, I believe everyone needs to read or hear this sermon…whether they are Christian or not, regardless of political affinity or indifference. That’s why I’m posting it again here after having posted it on Facebook. The words I’ve quoted above led to a spontaneous standing ovation in the middle of a sermon…in a Presbyterian Church. (If you aren’t Presbyterian, you likely have no idea how out of our comfort zone something like that actually is.)
This is not just a powerful recognition of how the great source of life and love persistently pushes humanity to live the reality that we are all worthy of respect, dignity, personal autonomy and love; it also confronts the reality that we are not living as though that is true and we are not confronting those elements within ourselves or our culture that keep it from being true. And the time for silence is over, particularly with regard to how we are treating and dishonoring women as fellow human beings, fellow children of God.
For many of us, this is at the heart of what it means to be a proclaimer of Good News in the 21st Century. God is good, all the time. We are not, not all of the time, but we need not despair. It’s not about guilt. Instead, it’s an invitation to see that we need to love better, not just for the protection of the vulnerable and the persecuted, but for ourselves, so that we might be whole, so that we ALL might be whole. In our tradition, we see that as being faithful to the God who loved us enough to face the worst humanity had to offer so that God could reveal the ultimate powerlessness of hatred, fear, oppression and death when confronted with grace, hope, and love.
Thank you, Shannon. I’m proud to be your colleague and friend.