Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness and minister your justice with compassion.

Those are the words of our collect, or prayer, for this Second Sunday after Pentecost, the beginning of that long season in the Church that is sometimes referred to as “ordinary time.”

This season lasts until the beginning of Advent. From now until then there are no great events on the Church calendar, no great feasts or celebrations. Just ordinary life, day in, day out — in the Church and in our lives.

The truth is that most of our lives are spent in ordinary time. That is where we live out our faith, where we show who we really are and what really matters to us.

The prayer with which we began the service today gives us a clue as to how we are to do that, what our concerns should be in the daily living out of our faith – as a community and as individuals.

Here is what we are called to do:

Proclaim God’s truth with boldness and minister God’s justice with compassion.

This week our vestry acted to do just that. After much discussion about the social unrest caused by our nation’s enduring racial injustice, they voted unanimously to put a new banner in front of the church. Here is what it will say:

Black lives matter.

Three simple words that have generated much discussion and even division in our country. 

“Don’t all lives matter? ” is a common response. And, of course, the answer to that is yes. Or it should be. 

But the truth is in this country the evidence overwhelmingly shows that too often black lives don’t matter, or at least don’t matter as much as white ones.

Three instances in recent months have raised the question about the value of black lives.

The first took place not far from here in Brunswick, Georgia. Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog when he stopped to look at a house that was under construction. White neighbors shot and killed him. 

Ahmaud Arbery is dead at age 25. 

Did his life matter?

The next took place in Louisville, Kentucky. Breonna Taylor was asleep in her home after a long day saving lives as an Emergency Medical Technician. In the middle of the night police, unannounced, rammed into her apartment and shot her eight times in what they later described as a “botched raid.”

Breonna Taylor is dead before her 27th birthday. 

Did her life matter?

Then in Minnesota, George Floyd was arrested. Police threw him on the ground and put him in a chokehold. An officer forced his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.”

George Floyd is dead at age 47.

Did his life matter?

Then we remember the tragic events in our own city this weekend that resulted in the death of Rayshard Brooks.

Did his life matter?

The unrest sweeping our country is not caused by these cases alone, egregious as they all are. There is a long list, longer than any of us can recount, of black men, women, and children whose lives have been unjustly cut short.

Added to these deaths is the ongoing systemic racism in our education, health care, and justice systems.

All of which add up to say that since this nation’s inception black lives have not mattered as much as white ones.

And that is an affront to God. 

Too many times the Church has failed to stand up and say Black Lives Matter. Too many times the Church has turned a blind eye to injustice.

“It is a sad fact of human nature that we want quiet without peace and justice without disruption,” our bishop Rob Wright said this week. “Quiet refuses to examine the ideologies our society perpetuates.

“Quiet is a toxic silence about the facts on the ground. Quiet continues the cover up. Quiet is what immoral systems require of good people.

“Yet again, the lethal nature of quiet has come to light in Minneapolis, Louisville, and Brunswick,” he said. “In each case quiet, and the collusion of co-workers, helped to facilitate murder.”

It is time — past time — for people of faith to stop being quiet.

It is time for us to proclaim God’s truth unequivocally and with boldness:

Black lives do matter. 

It’s a first step, but an important one. Not until we can say and truly believe that black lives matter will we be able to examine and change all the ways in which our society says they don’t.

Then we can begin to minister God’s justice with compassion.

God calls us to speak the truth and then act on it.

Today we proclaim this truth, and place it in front of our church as a witness for all to see.

Black lives matter.

To God. And to us.


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