Sunday, April 10, 2016

Interfaith Sermon for MORALtorium Service

MORALtorium Service for Blessing, Advocacy and Activism
Sermon by The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade
March 21, 2016
Grace United Methodist Church, Harrisburg, PA

The video for this 7-minute sermon can be watched here:

Thanks to Groundswell Rising director Renard Cohen for this video.

Salaam alekum, blessed be, shalom, peace, blessings, Namaste.

44Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?”45Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matthew 25:44-45).

As people of faith, we believe it is important that the voices of “the least of these,” those most vulnerable who are impacted by the devastation of shale gas drilling and its related processes be heard.  Even this small sampling of readings and prayers at this service demonstrates that nearly every faith tradition would look at what is being done to the people of this state and to God’s Creation and clearly recognize that it is immoral, unjust, unethical, and intolerable.  Just because it’s legal does not mean that it’s right.

We see this as a ‘green’ civil rights issue.  And just as the Civil Rights movement of 50 years ago could not have run without the power of the churches and synagogues, this Green Civil Rights movement needs people of faith to give it the moral and ethical authority, to frame this issue as a matter of faith, and to rouse the incredible power within our worshiping communities to address this issue.

Not only are the human rights of families being violated for the sake of corporate greed, the waters, air, land, plants and animals are being violated as well.  We are standing in solidarity with the Holleran family, the families of Riverdale and Dimock, and the long list of the harmed in Pennsylvania who have endured the ravages of this industry.  We will continue to demand justice for them and for Creation.  Like the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable, like David fighting Goliath, like Moses and Aaron confronting Pharaoh, like Gandhi confronting colonial imperialism, like Buddhists monks wrapping trees in saffron robes, we know that justice and righteousness shall prevail.

Sister and brothers, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once shared his dream for this nation about the end of racial inequality and injustice.  As people of faith today, we also have a dream.  We dream of this beautiful and noble state of Pennsylvania and this nation and the world promoting and investing in clean, renewable energy that will create jobs and avoid the destruction of our communities, land, air, water and climate that comes with dirty fossil fuels like natural gas, oil and coal.  We dream of families and communities able to live peacefully in the communities of care they have created without fear that corporate and governmental forces will take away their homes, or poison their waters, or murder their trees, or foul their air.  I dream of my own children being able to play in the waters of the Susquehanna River, no longer afraid that poisons will flow through the waters and cause diseases in the fish and plants and wildlife, and eventually in their own small bodies. 

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Help thy brother whether he is the doer of wrong or wrong is done to him.” His companions said, “O Messenger! We can help a man to whom wrong is done, but how could we help him when he is the doer of wrong?” He said: “Take hold of his hand from doing wrong.” Manual of Hadith

My colleagues in faith, our task today is not an easy one.  We are charged with taking hold of the hands that are doing wrong.  This includes the people sitting in well-appointed government offices whom you will visit.  And it includes those who will call for us to stay out of politics and be relegated to the task of cleaning up and comforting after the perpetrators environmental disasters have long gone. Sisters and brothers, I am no longer satisfied with that role.  Our task is not only to care for the afflicted, but to stay the hand of the one causing the affliction in the first place. 

You will get push-back.  You will be mocked and smirked at and patronized and politely dismissed.  But you will be heard.  Because you do not do this alone.  Your voice, speaking for the voiceless, is being amplified across this state.  You are answering the call to justice – so be encouraged in your task today. Know that you stand in a long line of faithful people who take their religions and traditions outside their houses of worship and out into the world, helping to create on the outside what we preach on the inside.

Attend to your tasks today with confidence, good humor, perseverance, fierce advocacy for justice, and great joy knowing you have found here colleagues to support and encourage you in doing this Great Work of our time.

Namaste, blessings, salaam alekum, blessed be, shalom, peace with you.
To read about the Rally at the Capitol Rotunda, click here

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