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11/24/2019 - Becca Griffin Sermon - "Being Still" - Brookmeade Congregational UCC, Nashville, TN

Brookmeade congregational church, ucc*
Becca Griffin
Reign of christ Sunday, Last sunday after pentecost, next sunday starts advent

Brenda Perez, a fellow divinity student
community organizer,
Daca recipient, having come to the US with her family at 6,
she is an advocate for immigration reform
she tells a story about a nonviolent protest, a disruption
            she was a part of at one of the detention centers where they were bussing in children.
            the group she was there with wanted to cause disruption, to protest, but didn’t want to scare the children or stress them more than they already were…
            So, they drew a Quetzal, native bird to guatemala, a symbol on the coin which it’s named after, and the bird on the guatemalan flag. it’s a beautiful bird with a long tail—it looks magical and it’s bright and these advocates for immigration reform knew it would be familiar for a child immigrating, seeking asylum, scared and away from home.  they drew the quetzal and wrote things  like “you’re not alone” on signs as they waved at the children and made funny or kind faces until the children were inside.  then they continued a protest where they barricaded the road, disrupting what is happening at detention centers, protesting immigration, seeking immigration reform.  before more direct and, perhaps, aggressive protest, there was a moment of stillness, paradise with these children and the quetzal and the protestors who took a moment to consider these vulnerable children caught up in the middle of a time of violence.

 Days' Readings:  Psalm 46 (Be Still and Know that I am God), Luke 22:33-43
Today is the reign of christ sunday (according to the revised common lectionary).  what does the reign of christ look like? how is it depicted in what we read today in the  reading of scripture?  in luke 22:33-43, as christ and others are being executed, during this time of violence, a snapshot into christ’s interaction. 
we find jesus, with those condemned by empire
which seeks to maintain itself through violence, war at the cost of life, at any cost
in the midst of such a time of violence, jesus, still, says to another receiving the death penalty,
“today you will be with me in paradise,”
you are not alone
this violence will come to an end
you are not eternally a criminal

this is what “still”ness means
what it means to “be still” according to psalm 46
in zion, the unshaken residence of god—paradise—in contrast to the tumultuous,
calm, where there is enough room for everyone
zion, this place of stillness is “not just defeating violence”
but ending war
this is what “still” means in psalm 46
“Be still”
“stop what you are doing and embrace what the peace of yahweh has achieved”
zion is the place
paradise is the place
the residence of god
is most visible and most appropriately praised
when there is no more violence
and there is an end to war
what does it mean that the reign of looks like
a rabbi (jesus was a rabbi) proclaiming that the one who the state condemns to death is the one who belongs in the house of God, right now, not in the future
those condemned are those in whom christ finds friendship
and shares friendship
and this is where we find christ
this is what the reign of christ
what “being still” looks like, an end to violence, an end to war,
standing in awe when there are no more children in detention centers
for that will mean we have found zion
that will mean we have made it
to god’s house
and that vision
when it is achieved,
will be a day worthy of great thanksgiving
we’re on our way
this  thanksgiving
may we be mindful of the peace of god that is possible
of friendship
for what we have
sharing it how we can
inviting those condemned or outcast into
this is what it means to “be still”

may we seek out news stories of where folks like brenda perez and others are working for things like immigration reform,
“for the babies” as brenda says
to get babies out of cages
may we seek out new of that kind of zion
where the death penalty does not have the final word
this is the reign of christ
come behold the works of the lord
may our times of devotion find us caught up
and in awe as wars and violence come to an end
may we be part of the house of god, forever
sharing paradise with christ and those condemned

i am grateful for what this place, brookmeade, means for me
as one condemned by some, excluded in ways, marginalized for part of my identity
where i have found an end to wars of shame
that can be deadly for some
may we continue such work here and in our lives
inviting folks into paradise
seeking and asking for paradise to come, too,
demanding it
for ourselves and others as well
may our marching to zion end with no violence and with smiles
for this is what it means to “be still”


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