In my United Methodist tradition, our baptismal vows those seeking church membership are asked several questions, including these two:
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin? Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
Friends we are gathered here for one primary reason: to resist evil.
And specifically to resist the sin of racism, personified for us by the impending presence of a Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan just a block or so up the street.
But before we face this enemy of all that is holy, we need to gird ourselves up with the spirit of truth and the power of prayer.
And the truth is that the KKK wouldn’t be here today unless they thought they had allies.
Know this: The KKK is not seeking to bring racism to our community so much as they are seeking to amplify the racism that already exists here.
So with that being said, I invite you to pray with me:
Sovereign God, Lord of Heaven and Earth, of all that has been, is and ever will be…
We are gathered here today as people with different backgrounds, with different faith traditions, or with no faith tradition.
We are Black, we are White. We may be Christians, or Jews, or Muslims, or Hindus, or practitioners of some other faith.
Still we share a common humanity and we are all of us children of God.
We are drawn together to protest what is wrong “out there” in our world,
And to offer an alternative reality under the banner of love, and peace, and respect, and hope for a better world.
We are here to celebrate our unity in the midst of diversity, and to lift up what is good, and kind, and right.
Still, if our gathering here is to have meaning; if our voice is to be authentic;
If we are to possess any moral authority, any power to speak out against evil,
We need first to confess our own sin.
We need to own our history, and to accept our own complicity in the continuing scourge of racism.
So we confess complacency in the face of hostility in the past and in our time…
We confess that during the hey-day of the KKK in the 1920s, even some of our churches turned a deaf ear to the blatant racism in their pews.
Even today, we sometimes remain silent to ignorant, racist words spoken by family members and friends, preferring easy comfort over difficult justice.
Some of us have chosen to accept the status quo without acknowledging our places of privilege.
Some of us, both black and white, have withheld love, and harbored animosity our hearts, allowing our fear and our suspicion to define our reality.
Some have uttered hateful racist, sexist, or otherwise dehumanizing comments.
Some have refused to engage with our neighbors because of the color of their skin.
Some have projected malevolent motives upon others rather than looking into their hearts.
By our own actions or inaction, we have denied the image of God in others while claiming it for ourselves.
So we pause to reflect and to repent of our sinful ways… of choosing violence over peace of choosing oppression over equality of choosing division over unity of choosing fear over love.
Forgive us we pray, and empower us this day to set aside any animosity in our hearts and concentrate fully on the task of presenting to our community an alternative vision, one driven by forgiveness, acceptance, and love for all
May we each embrace the words of the Psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” Amen.
I invite you now to turn to a neighbor as you are led and offer words and signs of reconciliation and peace.
“Let there be peace on earth”