Preacher: Rev. Jason Carson Wilson
Scripture: Psalm 130
Date: March 26, 2023
Audio can be found here:
Good Moring, church. We re visiting the words of Psalm 130 today as we sing out praises to our Creator. Let’s remember that the Psalms were usually hymns sung in the temple. David reportedly wrote Psalm 130 while being persecuted by Saul for his affair with Bathsheba. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentice
to the voice of my supplications!”
Desperate times in our lives can often call for desperate measures. What out world has collectively experiences during the last three years has transformed that phrase from a tired cliché to the necessary truth. These desperate times have inspired us to cry out for God’s attention.
We often cry out for mercy but ever for redemption.
It was our passionate expression of need amid an ongoing deadly and desperate situation. Faith and hope, at times, became hard to grasp as we march toward the death 0nad burial of Jesus. Reflection on Jesus’s Journey to his death–no, murder–an burial offers a glimpse at how power and/or fear can trump humanity.
Politicians nationwide are manufacturing and weaponizing fear the strip transgender people of humanity. After doing the same to lesbian and gay people, it didn’t didn’t stop progress. Faith-based bigots needed a new target. That’s just one manifestation of uniquely American-mad marginalization. A National Prayer Breakfast is where is oppression has been long plotted and planned at the Hinkley Hilton.
Our founding fathers used their allegedly God-given power to figuratively transform enslaved Africans, including my ancestor, Rachel Winslow of Perquimans County, North Carolina, into animals with no agency, ability to feel pain, or allegedly no intelligence A need to protect forefathers’ descendants’ power inspired the malicious benevolence to the re-bran enslaved Africans as 3/5 of a human.
We often cry out for mercy but not redemption.
Fear of losing power consumed them again when those once enslaved Africans began eating from the tree of freedom and liberty, giving birth to Jim Crow to start state-sanctioned and celebrated crucifixions. But, as the Rev. Dr. James Hal Cone reminds us, the cross and the lynching tree are the same. Photos of families picnicking beneath lifeless bodies haunt me.
This season of Lent is when we look back to the events leading up to His passion Jesus was willing to endure what we cannot imagine. There’s no question Jesus was willing; however, we no longer struggle to imagine state-sanctioned murder of unarmed people of color. Say their names.
As we mark Women’s History Month, we can’t forget Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer battle was exploited to yield medical breakthroughs. Lacks’ cancer cells were harvested and used without her consent. Neither she nor her family was ever compensated. And black transgender women continue to wear the biggest target on their backs. Fear and hatred killed one black transgender woman I knew, Elise Malary,
We often cry out for mercy but never redemption.
Psalm 130 gives us insight into the depths of Jesus’ suffering. He descended into the depths of human suffering, even to the depths of hell. The prophet prays:
If you, O Lord, should ark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
We often cry out for mercy but never for redemption.
Some people embrace a theology that pushes a narrative that Jesus’ agony and suffering leave us with strength and hope. Redemptive suffering isn’t my thing, especially since Jesus’ suffering has yet to come save us from ourselves. Redemption shouldn’t be used to justify torture and murder, especially since redemption takes work.
Without works, redemption is dead.
Lent has become reminiscent of New Year’s Day in some ways, Our planned temporary sacrifices often mirror our resolutions. And they usually meet the same fate. We need to take a new collective approach to Lent. Giving up chocolate or coffee for Lent changes nothing. Giving up homophobia, misogyny, racism, and sexism for lent is a better idea.
Point of clarification,, I mean giving it up for good during Lent. Yes, Church, you’re already living into that commitment. Take this as a Lenten reminder. White supremacy has propped up patriarchy for millennia by dehumanizing and demoralizing LGBTIA+ people, people of color, and women.
Jesus’ death doesn’t absolve our society or world of collective guilt and shame for white supremacy’s ongoing impact. After all, God set him to save us, but we’ve collectively ignored his teaching. Both we and the prophet have put our hope in the word, according to the scripture, but how does one find hope in the word we’ve chosen to ignore?
This word compels us to love our neighbor. Unfortunately, previous examples prove our collective inability to live into that commitment. Our current administration, like its predecessor, ponders dehumanizing and demoralizing our immigrant siblings. As a self-proclaimed Catholic-adjacent Protestant, that goes against Jesus’ teaching and Catholic social teaching.
This passage shows the soul’s deep longing, waiting, and hoping to hear from God. We often feel forgotten and disheartened when our prayers seem to go unheard. Did prayers go unheard, or were we not listening?
Some say that praying and pouring over God’s word is how we should spend time waiting on God to hear our cries and answer all our prayers. We must ask ourselves–which word? One translation of the Bible left me hopeless and dehumanized. God’s still speaking voice calling a then 6-year-old back gay boy to the ministry is the word that gave me life and hope and continues sustaining me.
A careful and deliberate reading of the word helps ground me. Despite claims to the contrary, redemption shouldn’t require denying your identity or truth. Conditional redemption has nothing to do with God. It’s another attempt to weaponize Christianity and theology in the name of control, even if our cries for mercy are rooted in someone else’s control.
We often cry out for mercy but never redemption.
While faith without works is dead, redemption isn’t possible without mercy. So in this Lent season, let’s commit ourselves to give up our lack of collective mercy to the marginalized and oppressed. Welcoming huddled masses to our shores only when politically convenient isn’t showing mercy. Continuing our pattern of sidelining and silencing people who we’ve declared as not being one of us isn’t showing mercy.
While the United State claims to be an exporter of democracy and peace, if government destabilization were an Olympic event, our nation would be a gold medalist. Out government has helped create the situations that have driven people in desperate situations to seek asylum at our southern border legally. Regardless of the party, our government’s hubris and hypocrisy are at the root of the alleged border crisis.
This crisis exists because people clinging to the notion that the United States is a Christian nation want to keep it that way by refusing to do what Jesus would do–welcome the stranger. Unfortunately, clinging to that notion has led to our Handmaid’s Tale era and a time when Anita Bryant’s comeback might happen.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy”.
LGBTQIA+ people, people of color, and women have been making similar pleas from Constitution Avenue NW, Independence Avenue MNW, and Pennsylvania Ave NW to state capitols nationwide that have fallen on the ears of lawmakers who refuse to listen. Instead, they double down on legislated bigotry over the din of people desperate for redemption and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We often cry out for mercy but never for redemption. But hope is not lost. Redemption is still possible, but is requires action. We must actively work towards dismantling the systems of oppression that have been in place for centuries. It requires us to listen to the cries of those who have been marginalized and take action to lift them up.
We cannot simply give up chocolate or coffee for Lent and call it a day. We must give up our complacency and comfort in how things are. We must become uncomfortable with the status quo and push for real change.
Redemption is not just about asking for forgiveness from God. It’s about actively working to right our wrongdoings against each other. It’s about acknowledging the harm we have caused and doing everything in our power to make amends.
We must come together to address
the institutionalized racism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny that has led us to this point. We must have difficult conversations with each other.
And when we do, we must not forget the voices of those silenced for too long. We must lift up the stories of black and brown people who have been lynched and murdered by a system never designed to protect them.
We must also acknowledge the contributions of queer and trans people throughout history, whose stories have often been erased or forgotten. Finally, we must celebrate the accomplishments of women and honor their strength and resilience in the face of oppression.
This Lenten season, let us take stock of our actions and commit to making real change. Let us reject the false notions of redemptive suffering and instead embrace the work necessary to dismantle oppressive systems.
Let us listen to the cries for mercy and redemption and act accordingly. For with action comes hope, and with hope comes change. Amen