High Seas

Unfortunately, the technology failed and this week’s sermon did not get recorded. The text below is an approximation of the sermon from Sunday, as best Rev. Furr could re-create it, as much of what he said was not written down. Also included here is the power point slide show in pdf format so all can view it. At the conclusion of Rev. Furr’s remarks, we showed each photo, read the bio you see with the picture, and lit a candle in front of the communion table. We sang the verse of “Sanctuary” you see as a refrain.
The bios information was put together from a variety of news reports, including CNN and Charleston’s daily paper, The Post and Courier.

Mark 4:35­-41

35 ​On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 ​And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 ​Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 ​And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea,“Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 ​And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 ​They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

“High Seas”

I am annoyed with God . . .
For calling me to proclaim Easter promise in a world so full of Good Fridays.

I am so tired . . .
Of digging for hope in the midst of human depravity and calling for transformation that seems destined to remain on the horizon.

I am so very frustrated . . .
That our nation continues to worship at an altar fashioned out of firearms.

I am deeply afraid, for my children and their contemporaries . . .
That the stain of racism, America’s original sin, is not lifting, but deepening.

I am so very angry . . .
That we will not tell ourselves the truth about the sickness of racial prejudice and how deep it runs in our relationships, communities, economics, government and our churches.

I am profoundly sad . . .
That we are giving a new generation the grief their ancestors worked to spare them from.

I am grieving . . .
The loss of these beautiful lives, so full of love for God and God’s children, and for the death of my illusions about our racial progress.

I have hope . . .
That the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, that God will not abandon us to self-destruction and that we will one day learn that we are so dependent on one another and were created for such unity, that racism is ultimately a form of self ­harm.

I am compelled . . .
To find the voice a straight, educated, white man is meant to have in a world whose prejudice benefits me.

I am aware . . .
That all these feelings are the luxury of my privilege; that they remain with me today, but eventually the comfort of belonging in the skin I was born with will return me to a fairly idyllic sense of normalcy. For others, with more melatonin, no such normalcy exists. People who look like me have pretended otherwise for far too long. The time for that pretending is over.

Today’s Scripture lesson features a battered boat with fearful disciples inside, wondering just what Jesus has gotten them into by inviting them to cross that lake in the first place. To leave the comfort of dry land was Jesus’s idea in the first place. Now here they are, in this chaotic mess, and Jesus is asleep. They are angry, incredulous, convinced that he does not care. I don’t know, but maybe some of us know how this feels. To feel beaten and battered and overwhelmed by a raging storm, while the One who has the power to help sleeps. Where is the just and loving God we believe came out to save us?

On the other side, Jesus will meet a mad man, driven to the brink. He is filled with the torturous things of the world­­his body, his mind, his spirit is battered. The spiritual sickness that has reigned in him has manifested itself in the brokenness of his body. He looks so familiar to me. I see him reflected back to me, to us, like a mirror. Our spiritual sickness, which we would rather hide, keeps manifesting itself physically. The current of racism that runs beneath the Earth we walk on is consuming us; it is consuming the bodies of African­American men and women, in our streets, in our jails and courtrooms and in our churches.

When they get to the other side of the lake, at last, Jesus will heal him, restore him. But they must cross the lake. They must pass through the storm. They must passover the chaos of this moment for liberation to come to the mad world they live in. We are in this boat together, because God has not been content to leave us on the shore of contentment with our prejudice. Jesus has dragged us out here, with the help of his children, who have heard the siren call of his gospel and set it loose in the world. They are those at Mother Emmanuel, who have so lived out their discipleship and so amplified the prophetic voice of Jesus that we cannot stay still any longer. There is no turning back. The wind and waves of this hard work will hammer at us, and there will be moments where those who stand to lose their privilege will rebel against equality and justice. But there is no turning back. Jesus means for us to cross to the other side. There, our madness might be healed.

The Bible says that in the beginning, all was formless and void, and darkness covered the deep. The breath of the Spirit blew over the chaos, and all that is came to be. Today, we can only turn to the one who has the power over this chaos­­that he will once again come to us, to save us from this manmade storm in which we are perishing.

I’m in a Facebook group with some other clergy. We share our successes and challenges and can be completely vulnerable with each other. Over the last couple of days, we discussed what we would say today. All of us felt overwhelmed and not up to today’s task. Truth is, we’re not. I’m not. All is too raw. The gospel is too deep, and words are insufficient. All I know to do is to lament. And so I cede my time, to the martyrs of Emmanuel AME Church. Let us remember, and lament.

At this time, please load the attached PDF file to see and hear about each of those who lost their life on that Wednesday evening at Emmanuel AME Church.

High Seas


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