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Sunday, November 13, 2016 | 4:00 p.m.

By Our Endurance We Will Gain Our Souls

Abbi Heimach-Snipes
Pastoral Resident

Isaiah 12
Luke 21:5–19


So I’ve got to be real honest
That I’m scared as hell right now
For my country, friends, and family
For myself and those who’ll bow

To a leader who is anti-Jesus
To a predator who aims to kill
The spirits of God’s people
The souls of those who will
       For freedom.
       For equity.
       For justice.
       For peace.
       For love.
       For hope.
And what might feel like the unbelievable has come to some
This is the U.S. already felt by many
We might fear for our lives
because our bodies can’t let us live in disguise
and nobody’s free until everybody’s free
       said the wise words from Fannie1

So this ain’t no regular sermon
Comin’ from a white woman like me
And I ask the people of color’s permission
That I may borrow from another tradition
Because right now, as I reach for God
This is what I’ve got.

From Luke today we read
Jesus predicting the temple’s destruction
He is preaching to the people
Warning them of false productions

They ask him when this will be
They’re looking for a sign
But when other leaders call up the end times
Jesus clarifies that those words aren’t mine

Beware! He says, Do not be led astray
For they will claim to be a savior
They’ll try to get you to follow their way
You might think that this won’t happen
But this week you see, it can.
Their words could be seductive
As they say they’ll make your nation great again.

Take the misguided words seriously
But don’t take them as the Truth
Know that times will get harder
Yet, don’t let fear be an excuse!

Jesus goes on and warns of doom,
war, and insurrection
He says that we’ll be persecuted
For our alliance to God and then, correction.

Jesus calls upon us not to fear
And as unreal as this might sound
He claims that our words of testimony
Uncontradictable, they’ll be found.

Our stories speak truth to power
Our honesty is real and true
And listening to one another
That’s some sacred soul-food

Jesus promises to give words
He’s a source of courage and wisdom
He’s the God that we follow
Who knows how to give all for the kin-dom

And although some of our homes might be divided
We’ll find community across former divides
For our neighbor is who we live for
And for each other’s freedom we cannot hide

When the fire that is rising
Starts to die and burns just at the coals
Remember Christ’s words exactly:
“By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

“By your endurance you will gain your souls.”
Stated in Luke 21:19
Oh man, Jesus asks a whole lot out of us
Resilience building work in community

It breaks our hearts to see and feel
Hatred fly towards us and other people
Let our endurance, hope, and action though
Rise as high as our church steeple

“By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

This reminds me of past and current resisters
People leading in the front and those behind the scenes
Folks of every color, body, and gender
Crying out to God for justice by any means

“By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

We endure for the hope that God gives us
Because there has to be another way
Than being cruel to people
That’s not the Christian or the American way

“By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

So I turn to what we live for
And imagine the possibilities
Of a time of realized communion
And celebrating each individual peculiarities

In Isaiah 12 we read
As the writer hopes for God’s new kin-dom
He writes prose in a way, what we’d say to God that day
Thank you, thank you, God!
Your anger we once felt
Has turned away
You have saved the day
And your comfort here is holding me
I know you are my salvation
I will trust you and try not to be afraid
I will give you my trials and tribulations
With joy I’ll draw water from your well
The well of salvation
I will give thanks again for all that you have done!
       For helping us feel your love.
       For equitable access to healthcare, education, justice, food, a safe community.
       For the freedom to worship you, God, in any kind of religion.
       For the end of war and true peace among the nations.
       For the freedom to love whomever.
       For the gift of your diverse creation.
       For the bodies that create life and bleed out death.
       For the earth that carries us and quenches our thirst.
We give thanks.

Pause for a moment in the text
As we build our endurance to be our best
Think of where your well is running dry
And turn and look to your neighbor
With the help of the Spirit, the Lord God on high
You’ll find the underground river current
That connects us to Christ’s body
The waters of our baptism
Flowing with that saving grace
That reminds us that our Christian vocation
Is to share a taste
of God’s grace
And know that we’re in this race
Connected, collected, protected, respected, affected, perfected
LOVED
So deeply loved.
Unbelievably loved.
And this is why we endure for each other.
Your freedom and mine.

“By our endurance we will gain our souls.”

Back in Isaiah
We sing praises to the Lord
Sharing this love-rooted-freedom
Shouting to the rooftops, of course.

And throughout all of Isaiah
This prophet notes oppression
Exile, loss, and violence
But doesn’t stop to question

That restoration will come
Even when it takes work to make it happen
We will hold each other by the hands
Sing songs, dance, and be clappin’

Because God is good.
That’s who we serve.
We might think, “would, could, should??”
Yet, we want to look back where we stood

“By our endurance we will gain our souls.”

Like those who came before us
Who fought for our rights to be
Our time has come to endure on
So that all may truly be free

I woke up Wednesday morning
Heavy, shaking, crying with despair
Not because one person didn’t win
But because one person did. A man with an air
       Of white supremacy
       Settlerism
       Patriarchy
       Homophobia
       Islamaphobia
       Ableism

Yet, despite this despair
A profound sense of love built up from within me
Towards the woman who made my coffee
The little boy whom I sat next to on the bus
The couple towards the front
The mother on my left
The strangers walking on the street
My colleagues who I see everyday
Because we’re all in this together
Do you feel it now? OK?

Used by an oppressive system
No one is alone
We must band together strong
With God’s love rattlin’ in our bones

A seed planted in my heart
That I really had to share
Because we grow in community
As the roots weaving together like trees

Hanging above my desk
Are some words of wisdom that I often need
That say, “When they tried to bury us,
They didn’t know we were seeds.”

When we cry out that our problems are so great
we shout to the sky because God is even greater
God shapes us to endure on
As we give praise to our Holy Maker

We might feel helpless and afraid
And angry as our blood begins to boil
But in fact we’re surrounded by love
Helping us to grow like seeds in fertile soil

Take a moment and be silent
Do what your soul may will
Cry if you need to cry
Move your body if you can’t sit still

And this I beg and ask
Open your heart and listen
To the Spirit of Resistance
She’s in the Womb of All
And she’s kickin’

Amen.

 

Notes
1. Fannie Lou Ham