For us Christians, healing and liberation are inexorably tied together. For Jesus, healing is always an act of liberation. For his followers, liberation for some involves healing for all.
Dean of the National Cathedral
In his sermon on Sunday, August 25, 2013, (The Very Rev.) Gary Hall addressed his congregation and everyone of goodwill who has ears to hear. Anticipating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington by those involved in the Civil Rights Movement, Gary not only asked us to take a closer look at our lukewarm response to civil rights but promised, as Dean of the Cathedral, to lead the way to more liberating/healing actions by and with the staff and people of the National Cathedral
…let us not delude ourselves. The Episcopal Church, as a denomination, participated in both overt and tacit segregation. Today 86.7% of American Episcopalians are white. The Washington National Cathedral staff, congregation, and chapter are overwhelmingly white. We are at once the cathedral church for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and the most visible faith community in the nation’s capital. Yet we have a largely non-existent record of involvement or investment in the other three quadrants of the District of Columbia. How can we, with integrity, presume to “speak truth to power” about racial justice when we are, in fact, implicated in the very structures of injustice? How can we call others into righteousness when we are ourselves caught in a web of sin?.
Weaving together the text from Jeremiah 1:4-10, the text from Luke 13:10-17, a text from Matthew (Mt 7:1-5) about judging, eyes, and specks, and logs, and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1963, Gary summarized and then made a pledge:
Friends, what we have here is a very big log in our eyes. Our problem is not the racism of any one individual, because racism is not only personal. It is also interpersonal, institutional, and social. This fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech and the march that occasioned it demands that we take an inventory of ourselves yes personally, but also interpersonally, institutionally, and socially. What does it mean to belong to an 86% white denomination when, by 2040, there will be no one majority race or ethnic group in America? What does it mean to call ourselves the “National” Cathedral when we confine our ministry to the whitest and most privileged quadrant of the District of Columbia? How can we live into the dream articulated by Dr. King when the evils we face in 2013 are so much more insidious than they were in 1963? The enemy back then looked and acted like Lester Maddox and Bull Connor. The enemy today looks and acts very much like you and me.
We here can do little to nothing about the Supreme Court, the Florida legislature, our own Congress. We can, however, together look to ourselves. On behalf of Washington National Cathedral, I pledge today to initiate a process of cathedral self-examination, renewal, and reform, seeking to explore the racism inherent in our worship, ministry, staffing, and governance. Read Gary Hall’s Sermon of August 25, 2013
I invite you to read his sermon. Listen carefully for the Spirit, the same Spirit involved in the call of Jeremiah, the healing moment in the life of the unnamed woman healed by Jesus long ago, and the words and ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Spirit is not done speaking and not done working with folks like you and me.
“Healing, freedom, liberation” are the sounds ringing from the chimes today.
What do you hear?