Another Justice Sermon...Still Not Done.

Proper 9B, Readings found here

"As Long as I Know Myself to Be a Coward"

“Then, if you don’t mind, I’ll go with you,” said the Lion, “for my life is simply unbearable without a bit of courage.”? “You will be very welcome,” answered Dorothy, “for you will help to keep away the other wild beasts.  It seems to me they must be more cowardly than you are if they allow you to scare them so easily.” “They really are,” said the Lion: “but that doesn’t make me any braver, and as long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy.”

-L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz
1856-1919

Was there a time in your life when you had to be brave? 

All they had was a staff and sandals.

And, so they began the journey.  

Speaking truth to power.

Proclaiming love and casting out unclean spirits.

Was there a time when you were brave because there was no other choice?

All they had was a staff and sandals...

And down the dusty roads they went.  

Proclaiming truth to those willing to hear it.  

Was there a time when you found power you didn’t know you had in order to do what had to be done?

All they had was a staff and sandals..

And, the power of Jesus’ name.

Proclaiming healing and anointing to the broken and the suffering.

What does it take for us to be brave?

All they had was a staff and sandals...

And grace, manifested in the hospitality of others.

As Paul writes, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness."

When is the time for bravery? 

They went with their staffs in hand, the dust of the road picking up at the footfall of their sandals and a tunic.

They were subject to “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ”

Who shall be brave?

They proclaimed repentance, transformation and reconciliation. They proclaimed wholeness. 

They stayed where they were welcomed.  And in places where no one stooped to wash their feet, as was the custom when a visitor arrived, they moved on...shaking the dust from their sandals.  

I know that we can be brave.

When a small group of Christians gathered for Bible study at Mother AME Zion and welcomed the stranger, they did not know they were being brave and would be martyred for their act of hospitality.  

What are we willing to risk for hospitality?

When Bree Newsome scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina state house to remove the Confederate flag, she claimed her bravery extended from the recognition of her own freedom, “I did it because I am free”.

What will we do because we are free?

When Presiding Bishop elect of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry preached at the closing eucharist of General Convention he referenced the Julia Ward Howe verses, 

In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea.
With a glory in his bosom
That transfigured you and me.
As he died to make [folk] holy
Let us live to set them free
While God is marching on.
Glory, glory hallelujah
God’s truth is marching on.

Will we be brave enough to live to set people free?

I began this sermon with a passage from The Wizard of Oz, “Then, if you don’t mind, I’ll go with you,” said the Lion, “for my life is simply unbearable without a bit of courage.”? “You will be very welcome,” answered Dorothy, “for you will help to keep away the other wild beasts.  It seems to me they must be more cowardly than you are if they allow you to scare them so easily.” “They really are,” said the Lion: “but that doesn’t make me any braver, and as long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy.”

As long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy...

Perhaps this is the proverbial thorn in our collective side that keeps us from experiencing the fullness of God’s love...that unsettled feeling, that sense that all is not well, that awareness that this status quo needs to be thrown over for a new way of being.

As long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy.  Amen.



********* (the following was written but not preached)



As long as we know that freedom has not truly come, we will be unable to rest. 

As long as we know that we have not been as brave as God calls us to be, we will be unsettled in our souls.

Bernice Johnson Regan, in her work “Ella’s Song” sets the refrain...

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

And when I juxtapose her words against the Gospel today, I imagine those sandal clad feet trudging down the road and the disciples humming...

We who believe in freedom cannot rest...

We who believe in the power of Christ to transfigure, to transform, all peoples cannot rest...

We who witness injustice cannot rest...

We who believe in love cannot rest...

We who are free while others are oppressed cannot rest...

Bree Newsome, in her interview for the Blue Nation Review, put it this way “I see no greater moral cause than liberation, equality and justice for all God’s people. What better reason to risk your own freedom than to fight for the freedom of others?” 




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