Wednesday, December 16, 2015

No hate zone--the way church should be

Possibly you read Jacquielynn Floyd's provocative column in The Dallas Morning News on hatred among members of faith communities in Dallas.  In the essay she mentions the recent sermon delivered at St. Rita Catholic Church by Fr. Joshua Whitfield, St. Rita’s Director of Faith Formation and Education. 

The message moved out into the deep and necessary waters of courage and faithfulness.  Fr. Whitfield personifies the role and work of the faithful pastor.  His message is worth reading.  Repentance is not something we talk about much these days. 

Here's how the good Father begins:

2 Advent C (12.6.15)
Luke 3:1-6
I feel I need to tell this story again. It’s a remarkable story. In the summer of 1966 James
Meredith was shot walking along old Highway 51 near Hernando, Mississippi. He had begun what
he called his “walk against fear,” a risky endeavor, when we was shot by Aubrey James Norvell from
Memphis. Meredith survived, and as he lay recovering in a Memphis hospital, the whole civil rights
movement descended upon Memphis—Dr. King and many others. They were determined to
continue the march into northern Mississippi, and so they set out along that hot asphalt that had
been so dangerous for Meredith just a few days earlier.
It was a tumultuous and unharmonious band of civil rights activists however—there was by
that time considerable disagreement about the character and future of the movement, and it was in
the summer of 1966, there in northern Mississippi, that these differences began to boil. On the
march with Dr. King was a young man named Stokely Carmichael, then chair of the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. But he had seen enough, he had had enough, and it was at a
rally on an elementary school playground that Carmichael introduced as a chant the words, “Black
Power!” He said in his speech that night that “every courthouse in Mississippi should be burnt down
tomorrow.” This bright young man had had enough.
King obviously was troubled by this—“Immediately I had reservations,” he said. The next
week King took a detour to lead a small march of Baptists in Philadelphia, Mississippi. There, in
1964 three civil rights workers had been abducted and killed, but no one as had yet been brought
to justice. There, in Philadelphia, King led marchers along the road into town, cars speeding past
the people, inches away. One man drove down the road with a club in his hand, taking swings as he
raced by. At the courthouse, King met the deputy sheriff, Cecil Ray Price (he would be convicted for
those 1964 murders the next year—the movie Mississippi Burning tells the story). “You’re the one
who…had those fellows in jail?” King asked him. “Yes, sir,” he said as he kept King and the other
marchers off the courthouse lawn.

So King turned around and. . . .

Read the entire, amazing sermon here.  The rest of the message takes a most relevant turn to today.

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