By This Love: Part Two
A Sermon From the Nation’s Capital by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II: As the 40 Days of Action for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival continues across the nation, Co-Chair, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II continues sharing God’s message of love from National City Christian Church in Washington, DC.
This is a preacher for me. A preacher who preaches action for the people: for action helping the marginalized, the oppressed, the hungry, the homeless, the sick instead of being satisfied with quietly complaining about the status quo while perpetuating that very status quo.
This transcription is my attempt to help spread the message that is central to Rev. Wm. Barber’s life and ministry. It is also a call to action for any and all who can afford to and/or who can make it to DC for the big push in the POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN on June 23. This transcription is also only the last portion of Rev. Barber’s sermon that day.
Straight people can’t just stand up for other issues and leave the LGBT community, NO, IT’S FUSION!!! BY THIS LOVE, we must challenge all systems of hate and violence. Some people just want a love that’s limited, but if we are to change society we need “This Love”. That’s why we need you on June 23rd all over the country to show up in DC big. At the Mall when we stand together. TOGETHER against “systemic racism”. TOGETHER against “inequality” and trying to undermine “equal protection under the law” regardless of “race, creed, color or sexuality”. TOGETHER against “systemic poverty”. TOGETHER against denying “healthcare”. TOGETHER against “immigrant injustice” and “attacks on the indigenous population”. TOGETHER against those who would block “living wages”. TOGETHER against those who would give tax cuts to the greedy while they would hurt the progress and the possibilities of the needy. TOGETHER against those who promote “war and militarism” and TOGETHER against the FALSE CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS NATIONALISM that says, “if you’re against the gay community, for prayer in school, against abortion––for tax cuts and for gun rights” then somehow “you are promoting the agenda of God.” Somebody has to stand together and say, “THAT IS A LIE,” because we heard Jesus when he said, “When I was hungry did you ‘feed me’? When I was naked did you ‘clothe me’? When I was sick did you ‘care for me’? When I was ‘a stranger”? When I was ‘different’––did you welcome me in? Because BY THIS LOVE ALL PEOPLE will know you’re my disciples.”
And then, lastly, not only does “THIS LOVE” receive and “THIS LOVE” resist–– “THIS LOVE” redeems. “THIS LOVE” reclaims. “THIS LOVE” reaches. Down in the “old church” it says “it reaches to the highest mountain, and it reaches to the lowest valley.” “THIS LOVE” is a love I can hasten to “God’s throne” no matter… In fact, it’s even beyond that. “THIS LOVE” is so powerful it’ll bring the throne to you.
Y’all don’t hear what I’m saying, “JESUS CAME DOWN through 42 generations ‘to reach and reclaim and redeem’. Even when Judas betrayed him he didn’t call him “enemy” he said, “FRIEND,” you can come back even from this. Even when Peter denied him and he got up out of the grave he said, “Go find Peter”, “go find Peter.” “THIS LOVE” redeems. “THIS LOVE” reclaims. “This love” reaches. In our text the disciples are afraid. “You ever been afraid, teacher” is heavy. “You ever been afraid, you ever seen things fall apart?” Looks like these narcissistic, dominating, lying people got all the control, all the mics, all the sound, all the TV stations… you ever been like that? It’s kind of how they work. In the midst of that Jesus knelt down and washes, not some of this disciples’ feet, but all his disciples’ feet. Washes the whole community’s feet. In essence he reminds them that they are all redeemed and reclaimed. And God wants to reach everyone of them. And the struggle intensifies as the text ends with Peter’s denial and the Bible says, when Jesus got up… [interesting, this is the kind of love that’ll reach you]. He didn’t say, “Go get Peter, James, John.” He said, “Go get my disciples and Peter.” Jesus said… this kind of community is the kind of community that understands that every now and then the best of us can internalize what’s against us. Y’all don’t you hear what I’m saying? Every now and then internalized “racism” can get to the best of us. Internalized homophobia can get to the best of us. But I need a community that operates by THIS LOVE. The kind of love that doesn’t give up on you. Then when he found Peter he didn’t say, “I told you you were going to deny me. I told you you were…” He just said, “I need to know something, Peter, cause I understand all of us have our moments, I just need to know ‘do you live me? Do you care about me? Do you still want community?”
And when a whole community of people are persecuted just because of who they are… I’m so glad that “THIS LOVE” will redeem and “THIS LOVE” will claim you. If you fall away “THIS LOVE” will reach you and give strength to hold on just a little while longer.
When hate wants to pull you down to hate those who have hated you, I’m glad that “THIS LOVE,” ahhh, will redeem you. THIS LOVE of Christ will reclaim you. “THIS LOVE” will reach down and pull you up when people reject us and want to hold us back. “THIS LOVE” redeems. “THIS LOVE” reclaims. “THIS LOVE” reaches us just… just when we need it most.
I said it last week. I need to say it again to you and to the nation because I know in this room there are some who have faced rejection. You’ve been rejected because of your sexuality. You’ve been rejected because of who you love. You’ve been rejected because of how you were born. You’ve been rejected because somebody needed to be somebody and feel good about themselves by trying to beat up on you. There are folk in this room who’ve known rejection… rejection because of income. Do I have a witness? Rejection because of faith. Rejection because of a lack of faith. Rejection because of somebody decided in their own ideology that they had a “right” a “false mandate” to redeem your humanity. “I’m strange, I’m… I’m sorry, pastor, I thought you said I could be myself, so…” I need a few folks that’s been rejected to come to the alter. I need the nation to understand… Have you been rejected? Has anybody here been rejected because of your “sexuality”? Rejected because of your “blackness”? Rejected because of… come on, don’t be scared. Walk right on up here… Anybody here been rejected you’re female, rejected because you’re male, rejected because you’re abused. Come on somebody that’s been rejected. Come on. Anybody been rejected because your friends didn’t understand you, your momma didn’t understand you. Come on up here. Come on right here. Just turn around and let… I want the nation to see that we ain’t scared. That nobody ain’t scared. We out of the closet now because “THERE IS A LOVE that has redeemed us. “THERE IS A LOVE that has reclaimed us. “THERE IS A LOVE that has reached us. “THIS LOVE”, it came down from heaven. “THIS LOVE” died on Calvary’s Cross. “THIS LOVE” went down in the grave. “THIS LOVE” got up early one Sunday morning. “THIS LOVE” has all power. That’s why we can sing, “We are one in the spirit.” I wish somebody give God praise. We are “One in the Lord.” We are “One in the Spirit.” We pray that our unity will one day be restored and they will know that we are Christians by our love. By our love they will know we are Christians. We will work with each other; we will work side by side. And we will guard each person’s dignity and save each person’s pride and they will know we are Christians by “THIS LOVE.“ And they’ll know all over America: all over the world. From every mountain top, from every hamlet, from every valley. AND THEY’LL KNOW we are Christians. Mark 7:30
In this address you may become concerned about a call to “step up to ‘the plate’.” Consider that the plate referred to is, as much as anything else, the “batter’s plate” where action is required. Either we stand idly by or we swing at the ball.
Time Mark 10:45
You know as preachers we love to preach and to pray, but I’ve got to say that it is during the time of offerings and during the time when we get ready to walk out into the street that we have the time y’all all of us to respond together and say, “We’ve heard the call from scripture. We know what Jesus said; we’ve heard the word preached and we’re ready ‘cause our hearts are revived… to show that we know what it is and what it means. It’s when we walk up to the plate, up to the offering plate and when we prepare to walk into the street that we, in this year, that’s the 50th since the 60s, where we remember the feet that Dr. Martin Luther King called to be in this very place to give courage then, and the kind of feet that are still attentive to give courage to the rest of us to step up.
We remember Dr. King’s quote when he said, “We oughta come into this city, in mule carts, old trucks, any kind of transportation that people can get their hands on. People ought to come to Washington, sit down, if necessary, in the middle of the street and say, “We are here. We are poor. We don’t have any money. You have made us this way and we’ve come to stay until you do something about it.
I reckon that you, like me, continues to feel courage but those who have the most at risk who are the most willing to walk up to the plate. I saw it again this Friday night when congregations went up to Fredrick outside of a detention center to stand together in support of a woman married to an immigrant from the Central African Republic, she’s a citizen… and he’s got his paperwork in process, but that process didn’t seem to matter. And, so he’s been detained and they attempted to deport him two weeks ago, and he dug his hands in so deep and said, “I will not return because if I do return to the CAR if I do I will die.” And so his relatives and his friends and his church members joined together on Friday night and went up to the edge of the fence and they called out in English and his native language, “You are not alone. We are here. We love you. We see you.” God does not forget. So let us consider. What do we bring besides our “offerings”. Which are… really the money part only to start, what else will we bring in our commitment… which politicians will we contact… which policies are we willing to change… which provocations are we ready to be a part of… which persecuted communities will we dare to stand with. No matter what tension it raises, regardless of whether our family or our friends turn away from us because we do it… Because THIS LOVE, THIS LOVE demands it. Let us walk to the plate with the commitment of our hearts in this moment.
Time Mark 20:20
As you come to the table do so with the knowledge and belief that love is indeed a powerful thing. Praises God’s love and God’s creation, a creation which God saw witness, a creation which is made in God’s image that compelled God to send a Savior, Jesus, whose life, ministry, life, death and resurrection secured our salvation and restored our relationship with God, himself. But in sending Jesus God demonstrated a new way that we, as humans, are to be in relationship with each other. Jesus showed us that “love” is just something that you just talk about, but it is something that you act on and live out. When you see injustice you root it out, you speak truth to power, you work for righteousness, you change the status quo in society. Love is something that compels us to help our neighbor who are in need. Love is something that will not allow you to see people who are hungry and without healthcare and do nothing. Love will not let you sit idly by and see those who are on the margin, women, children, LGBTQ folks, workers or immigrants suffering treated without dignity or respect, or denied their civil rights.
Come to this communion table praying that these elements, this bread and this cup, in which you partake will enliven you and strengthen you from the inside out with the power of the Holy Spirit to show love, inclusiveness and justice to everyone in radical ways that you meet. Let us pray.
Loving Lord, thank you for sharing your love for us through the gift of this day and the opportunity to come to your table of remembrance. As you children we humbly seek your guidance to fully accept love and to extend love as Christ commanded. His examples of loving and caring for those who are forgotten are extensions of perfected love. As we partake of this bread let truth and actions of Christ’s love be inspired in each of us. This we pray in Christ’s name.
As we continue in prayer: Heavenly Father, we gather here to give thanks for the sacrifice of your son, Jesus Christ, who was crucified and died on the cross. His blood shed for the remission of our sins which is represented by the wine in this cup. As we partake the wine, we realize and acknowledge that the sacrifice of your son was the ultimate act of love for us. May we use this love to further the mission of this church administering to the poor, easing the pains of hunger and lifting spirits with the good news that if you believe in Jesus Christ you will have everlasting life. We pray this in the name of our Lord who loves us unconditionally. Amen
On the night that Jesus was betrayed he took the loaf and broke it and said, “Take and eat. This is my body given for you.” In like manner he took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood as often as you drink of it do so in remembrance of me. During this service we will have communion by invitation, which means that as you come forward you will take a piece of bread and dip it into the cup. If you prefer to remain seated in your pew, please do so, and you will be served communion there. The table is set.
Now listen to Rev. Barber deliver his portion for there is no possibility of conveying his impact with the written word: