Part of the Sunday series, preached at a Sunday Morning service
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(Amos 1:1-2; 5:14-15, 21-24)
Fritz came to collect us from our days of R&R and deliver us back to Port au Prince. He had the standard issue white diesel manual transmission van. We began the process of lifting up our suitcases on to the top of the van and Fritz got out his rope to secure them. We piled in and began the trip up over mountains. It included hair pin turns, passing slower vehicles while we held our breath, skirting past school children walking on the side of the narrow steep road, following buses with people riding on the roof and chairs tied to the sides of the car. The view was spectacular allowing long distance scenes and close ups of rural life in Haiti.
We got over the mountains and turned onto the more level road that runs from Leogane (where we used to sleep and which was the epicenter of the earth quake) past Lambi Village and on into Port au Prince. There had been a lot of development and improvement of buildings along this road which was great to see. There had not been any “do not litter” programs though. Trash and garbage lined the street, filled the river beds and collected in the gullies that run along side the road - to help with water run off. But that was ok. We were on level ground and we all breathed a sigh of relief that we had safely made it over the mountains. It was good.
Then some rain drops came. A few at first. Then it started to get steadier. Fritz pulled the car over. Fritz doesn’t speak English but we figured out that it was time to get the luggage off the roof and into the car. Well, actually we had hoped that he was going to put a tarp over it but… So as the rain picked up steam we caught suit cases as they dropped down and shoved them into the van. Fast and furious. The rain was getting ferocious. A big piece of luggage came down, knocked Gary back into the storm drain. He climbed out, we finished the loading and closed the door and continued on - now with a Haitian man standing/riding on our back bumper to catch a free ride.
There had not been a thoughtful or deliberative process for getting the bags in the car. It was a more then a little cramped in the back. Off we went. The rain got very heavy very quickly. Water gushing down the hillside and carrying with it dirt and trash. We approached a part of the road that was not paved and very gutted/pitted. Fritz took a sharp left and entered into the oncoming traffic on the other side of the road. We traveled on that paved part, against the traffic, until we got the really big bend in the road where another street enters. At that point Fritz decided to get back on the right hand side of the road which happened by facing head on into the traffic coming in from the side street. We were back on the traditional side of the road and on our way.
Then the traffic got heavy - though heavy doesn’t even begin to approximate what we were in. It was still raining hard. What was anticipated to be an hour trip turned to 2, then 3…Without the rain, with out the traffic, traveling in Haiti is a sensory and emotional overload add add those in and I am without words.
Fritz just kept at it and got us to our guest house. Fritz sat in traffic without fidgeting. Fritz saw weather and took action to take care of our luggage. Fritz saw trouble on the road and made adjustments to his travel so that it would work. Fritz knew his mission and he made it happen, adapting, adjusting, enduring, creating along the way.
Fritz is my metaphor for being church this morning. I watched this man encounter the realities of life and find a way to do what he was asked to do. He didn’t speak English and so we couldn’t chit chat or ask questions. I couldn’t rely on explanation or logic to explain and make sense. I simply could observe that against all odds, in circumstances that shout quit, with a group of people that don’t speak his language, Fritz did his work. Which is exactly where the church is today. In a culture of incessant violence, fear, angst, in a culture that doesn’t speak the language of grace, transformation, compassion, generosity, in a time that tempts us to shout quit - we are blessed/challenged to be like Fritz. To do our work. To be people of hope. To be a place of welcome. To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. We are blessed/challenged to sing a new song, a hope song, a life song against the tides of death. We are blessed/challenged to gather in a community that recognizes and trusts that the sacred love which binds us together is stronger than our different opinions and perspectives. We are blessed/challenged to set out down the road with a plan in place and then dare/risk to change that plan when circumstances around us change. We are blessed/challenged to be go against the current when the current is causing pain, hurting the vulnerable, stopping life.
Fritz took his journey/task on with a standard issue white diesel manual transmission van. It was very concrete and visible. We take on our journey with the infinite love, wisdom, power, way of God. This is not very concrete or visible in traditional ways. It is not as obvious to recognize as the van sitting in the parking lot. It takes work and attention and curiosity to recognize the holy in the fray of fear. It takes courage and faith to trust love in the reality of violence. It takes intention and prioritizing to practice generosity in a time of perceived scarcity.
All this hard work? All this challenge? All this risk? We undertake supported by and because of the love of God that is present and ready and able to heal and transform. God is restless and active and at work - healing us, guiding us, disrupting us, enabling us, holding us. This is true but we can miss it easily. We can lose our focus. We can get caught up in all that is broken and unfair. There is plenty of that out there.
We gather in this place on this day as a community and hear the story of God and God’s people. People like Amos who saw where folks were missing the mark and calls them back to God and Gods’ way of life. Seek good and not evil that you may have life - life that is grounded in God’s way where justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. People like Fritz who steps into the fray and challenge and moves toward his goal. People like each and everyone of us in this community of hope. Each of us, as we are, part of God’s story and way of life. Each of us, as we are invited to make that love real in our world. Each of us, as we are offered healing, welcome, life. Its here for us. Its all around us. Go, seek that love and let it in. Amen.
Main Street Congregational UCC
November 12, 2017
Note: This manuscript was prepared for oral delivery only.
It contains excerpted material not properly cited.
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