(If you go to Trinity, Milton, don't read this tonight!)
I wanted to be here, on your level, instead of up in the pulpit because I want you to know I’m not ‘preaching AT you’, I’m ‘sharing my thoughts and opinions WITH you’.
On this 245th Anniversary of the founding of our nation, I want to share my thoughts and opinions WITH you about where we are as a country.
Some of what I say may be disturbing to you—it’s disturbing to me!
But it needs to be said.
This is the greatest country in the world. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I love this country.
But as great as it is and as much as I love it—the United States has flaws. And we need to look at them and address them as a nation.
As remarkable a document as our Constitution is, it established a ‘democracy’ on the back of slavery of Africans brought here to do our farm work. In the Constitution we all love, slaves were counted as 3/5th a person in the census to allocate seats in the House of Representatives!
3/5th a person!!!
We are a deeply divided nation. Since the last election we have seen how deep the divide was with a violent assault on the Congress.
We are also divided in other ways.
Those who take the vaccine against Covid and the anti-vaccine folks.
We are deeply divided over issues of climate change.
We are divided over voting rights.
We are divided by race in a remarkable way. Black and Brown people are much poorer than White and Asian-Americans. They have worse health-care and housing and are having it much more difficult to vote by states passing voting bills.
And rich and poor are not just Brown and Black, poor white Americans are in the same boat.
The county I grew up—the southern most county in West Virginia—McDowell if you’re not from there and Mac-Dowell if you are from there—had a population of 100,000 when I was a senior in high school. The latest census put that population at 27,000. Coal mining is dead—which is a good thing—but no one worked to find new jobs for those 73,000 people who had to leave to find work.
During the pandemic the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.
We are so deeply divided as a people. And disagreement doesn’t mean ‘looking for compromise’ any more—it means taking sides and refusing to compromise.
I was saying some of this to a casual friend who is much more conservative than I am a few months ago.
He stopped me and said, “Love it or leave it!”
I said, “No. We have to Love It and Fix it!!!”
That’s why I chose to read the Gospel of the Good Samaritan for today’s gospel. Jesus tells us there—“Love God….and Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Sunday before last, on my way back home, my car broke down on Rt. 8 in Watertown. Triple A took an hour to get there. Hundreds of cars passed me but only one stopped—Brian who made sure I was alright and gave me a bottle of water. Brian was my ‘good Samaritan’.
And, as the Samaritan teaches us, our ‘neighbor’ is anyone in need, anyone struggling, anyone we can lift up and help.
On this glorious holiday—even a ‘holy day’, I would say—we must commit ourselves, as followers of Jesus, to do everything we can to Love our Country and ‘fix it’, by loving our neighbor—who is anyone in need.
It’s really that simple.
Really that simple.
Really that simple.
Amen and Amen.