As my preaching group meets this week to talk about Preaching While White, I find myself sensing a call to preach a series of sermons about race even though I never get to do this anymore as a person who preaches in a different congregation every weekend. Here’s what I’m thinking and I invite you to take/borrow/steal these ideas. Or you can invite me to preach several Sundays in a row after June 16, 2018.
[Full disclosure: I believe that we will continue to have issues about race until we talk about race more/all the time. White People will continue to have an issue with White Privilege until White People spend each day thinking about what it means to be White.]
Three Sermon Ideas:
- Let’s Talk About the Curse of Ham – Genesis 9:20-27 First of all, how many of us don’t know the story about naked drunk Noah? And then there’s the evil notion that Black People are cosmically cursed because of Ham. Maybe your people never heard this in Sunday School but too many Good Christian People did hear this. And deep in their souls, they still believe it.
- When Did You Learn About Japanese Internment? 1 Kings 10:1-13 The Queen of Sheba (a dark-skinned woman) had heard of King Solomon but she didn’t know the whole story. (And we perhaps didn’t know that the QoS was black.) Maybe you’ve heard now about Henrietta Lacks and Katherine Johnson or maybe not. But some of us are angry to learn that these women and their contributions have been hidden. And in our school books, the ugliest true life stories of our great nation’s history have often been – wait for it – whitewashed.
- Aunt Grace is Mistaken Romans 12:3-8 – My family members reading this will remember Aunt Grace, a beloved Church Lady and my grandfather’s sister who passed away in 1973. One Sunday afternoon while I was a child helping Aunt Grace “make a party” (i.e. Sunday afternoon snacks) she leaned down and whispered into my tiny ear, “Don’t ever forget, Jan, that the Edmistons are better than everyone.” I remember feeling confused and – as soon as I could – I tattled on Aunt Grace to my father. I told him – my Dad, the Sunday School teacher who had said more than once that ‘God loves everyone no matter what‘ – what Aunt Grace had whispered into my ear. And his single-line response was, “Aunt Grace is mistaken.” The ugly truth is that many of us believe we are better than (or being white is better than, or being male is better than, or being American is better than, or being Christian is better than.) When Paul wrote that we are connected to each other, he was also saying that we cannot be “greater” than each other in God’s economy. Compared to Jesus, all of us are broken and ridiculous. Even Aunt Grace.
We who Preach While White have an underused opportunity to speak about race and we have to do this. We have to do this.
We have to do this.