Winthrop Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
No matter who you are. No matter where you are on life's journey. You are welcome here.
Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, ‘You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’
But I said, ‘I have laboured in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the Lord,
and my reward with my God.’
And now the Lord says,
who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’
Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers,
‘Kings shall see and stand up,
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’
Arrows and Lights- Isaiah 49:1-7
"I'm not walking for myself. I'm walking for my children and grandchildren." This was the reply of one woman who was in the midst of a long walk home through the streets of Montgomery, Alabama in the early days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. One of the volunteer drivers saw her walking and stopped to invite her into his car. He said to her, "Jump in, Grandmother. You don't need to walk." She, like many others who were choosing to walk in order to be a visible sign of their protest, politely declined his offer. "I'm not walking for myself. I'm walking for my children and grandchildren." Our acts of justice are not simply for ourselves. They are for the people that surround us and who will follow us. We don't just walk for ourselves. We walk for our children and grandchildren and our neighbors and people we don't even know.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the political action that helping bring a young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. to national prominence, though he was not the only leader in the city. Because he was minister, a very public job, and had been chosen as the primary spokesperson for the Montgomery Improvement Association, he was one of the people at whom much of the racist ire was directed. As I explained a couple weeks ago, the white community in Montgomery was incensed that the black community would push back against the humiliation of Jim Crow laws. Their anger would become violent. That was already evident days into the strike. People intended to do him harm in order to break the boycott. He was certain that his family was in danger. Scarcely a month into the 381 day strike, Dr. King's family was receiving 30-40 threatening phone calls and letters per day. As you can imagine, the threats began to take their toll on Dr. King.
In his autobiography, Dr. King shared a story about what it was like to live under these threats of violence. In late January of 1956, about a month after the strike began, late one night, after a hard day, Dr. King got one more threatening call at his home. They said that they would make him sorry that he every came to Montgomery. Even though he had gotten hundreds of threats at this point, on that day, as he laid in bed next to his sleeping wife, this call was simply one too many. He couldn't sleep. He said, "It seemed that all of my fears had come down on me at once. I had reached the saturation point." He got up and began to pace through his house. He ended up in his kitchen, warming up some coffee, and wondering if he could be the leader he felt like he was called to be in Montgomery. He wondered if his daughter or his wife would be killed by the white supremacists who hated him so. He wondered if he would be killed and taken from them. He wondered if his own fear would shake the nerves of people boycotting the segregated buses. He sat at his kitchen table, wracked with doubt and fear, and unsure if he was up to the task before him. He realized that he needed to pray.
In his autobiography, Dr. King described what he prayed aloud for in his kitchen that night. He said he still remembered saying:
"Lord, I'm down here trying to do what's right. I think I'm right. I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But Lord, I must confess that I'm weak now, I'm faltering. I'm losing my courage. Now, I am afraid. And I can't let the people see me like this because if they see me weak and losing my courage, they will begin to get weak. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they, too, will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I've come to the point where I can't face it alone."
I wonder if anyone here has prayed something like that before. I wonder if anyone here has faltered under terrible strain while still be utterly sure that what they were doing was right. I wonder if anyone here has prayed like that.
Dr. King described what happened next as a kind of quiet assurance. He said that it was as though an inner voice told him, "Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you. Even until the end of the world." Dr. King described this moment, the moment where he knew clearly that his mission was to stand up for truth, justice, and righteous, was the moment in his whole life when he most clearly felt the presence of God. His fear and uncertainty faded away. He said that he was ready to face anything that came his way because he knew that God was with him on that journey. He said that it was this night of fear and prayer that helped him to face a terrifying event just three days later. While he was at a mass meeting, someone bombed his home. His wife and daughter were there, but were unharmed. As he met concerned neighbors in the street, he restated his commitment to non-violence as well as his certainty that they were on the right side of history. He said, "I want it known the length and breadth of this land that if I am stopped this movement will not stop. If I am stopped our work will not stop. For what we are doing is right. What we are doing is just. And God is with us." He knew that his work of justice and mercy was not just for him. It was for his children and grandchildren and neighbors and people he didn't even know. And, God was with him.
Just like Dr. King was certain that God was directing him towards justice, the prophet Isaiah was certain that God would direct the people towards justice and righteous. This portion of Isaiah, one of the three servant songs, describes how God will direct the people. A leader, or the whole people of Judah acting a leader among nations, would be called up and sharpened by God to rebuild God's reign on earth. The Servant will be both certain of their calling and fearful that they may not be able to fulfill all that God needs of them. See if these words sound familiar to you: "God said to me, 'You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.' But I said, 'I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with God." Did you hear that tension between mission and exhaustion, calling and fear?
Just as Dr. King felt God's presence at the kitchen table, in this beautiful, ancient poetry, God brings quiet assurance to the Servant, too. God said that this Servant will be able to help more than simply the tribes of Jacob and the survivors of Israel. God says, "I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." The wicked ones will be overturned. God will raise and empower a ruler from the ones who have been most despised and most abhorred. God says that yes, this calling is hard. But, you have been made for this. And, you do this not simply for your people, but for your neighbors and their children and grandchildren and for people you will never know. And, I will be with you. Even unto the end of the earth.
Part of the beauty of Isaiah is that these servant songs aren't simply directions to one specific leader or monarch. As I have said before, Christians often read these words as prophecy regarding the life and mission of Jesus. In some of the Gospels, Jesus roots his own mission in the words of Isaiah. That being said, I think it's also pretty clear that this song isn't just to help us understand Jesus. It's to help us understand our own calling, too. Through our faith in Christ, we have gotten adopted into this ancient servant nation, a whole people who have been shaped and molded from creation to serve as light in God's darkness and as advocates for the oppressed. We don't have to be Jesus or the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in order to fulfill this mission. We can simply be the grandmother who walks so that her children and grandchildren will one day be able to ride with dignity. We can be the ones making phone calls to our leaders, making sure that they are caring for the ones who Jesus cared for: the sick, the aged, the isolated. We can be the ones who shop at the Middle Eastern deli, supporting our newest neighbors. We can continue make sure that this church is one place in the whole community where everyone knows that they are safe and that they will be greeted as beloved children of God.
And, when we grow weary, because being God's light in the world can be exhausting and frightening, maybe we can remember those words that Dr. King heard at his kitchen table: "Stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you. Even until the end of the world." And, we'll keep walking.
Pastor Chrissy consulted the following sources while writing this sermon:
Juliana Claassens: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3126
Karoline Lewis: https://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=4793
Amy Oden: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1939
Bo Lim: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=807
Dr. King's retelling of the kitchen table story: https://swap.stanford.edu/20141218230026/http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/kingweb/publications/autobiography/chp_8.htm
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’
Well Pleased- Matthew 3:13-17
This week, a preacher friend of mine shared a tidbit she had heard in an interview between journalist Krista Tippett and acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton. He travels the world searching for quiet spaces and recording the sounds there. He talks about an epiphany he had at the beginning of his career. As one who had always been drawn to sounds, he realized that he had been thinking of listening primarily as a task where one listens for something in particular in an environment and tries to tune everything else out in order to pay attention. This is what we do in crowded rooms or busy cities when we are trying to listen to one person speak. He realized that there is another kind of listening, a deeper kind of listening. When you listen deeply, you try to take in all the sounds that are present, not just the ones you are searching for. For the rest of his career, his own work would be deeply shaped by his attempts to pay attention to all the sounds around him... water crashing through creek beds, bugs humming on flowers, the scratching his clothes made when he moved, the wind as it ruffles through grass. This kind of listening has helped him understand himself not simply as a human set apart from it, but as a creature deeply connected to it as he tries to hear all the sounds, not simply the ones he was expecting.
In the spirit of Mr. Hempton's work, let's imagine what it might have sounded like to stand along the riverside as Jesus was going to be baptized. First, I imagine that you hear the crunch of the gravel and sand grating against the bottom of your shoes as you walk. Maybe the leather in your sands creaks a little as you make your way forward. You hear the breath of the people walking alongside you... you hear your own breath. You hear the wind through the trees and scrubby weeds that become increasingly dense as you get closer to the water. The dragonflies and mosquitoes buzz, drawn to the water and to the delicious people near the water. The plants along the trail swish along your legs, rustling the fibers of your clothes. It's migration season, so you hear the calls of the cranes making their way north. Toads croak and plop into the safety of the water. And you hear a human voice booming through the woods. It is insistent.
The man talking, John, is probably talking loud enough that you can hear him from far away. There are many people present, listening, and making all the noises that crowds of people make. When is the last time you've been out in the woods with a whole bunch of people? I once spent an evening in the woods with about a hundred other people, all of us watching lightning bugs. Even though we were quiet and it was pitch black outside, you still knew people were everywhere. You could hear them. Their clothes swished. They sniffled their noses. The hiss of their whispers carried through the night. Their harrumphs did, too, when they stepped in a hole and tried to catch themselves. They stepped twigs and occasionally each other. I imagine the riverside around John sounded something like that.
John yells out loudly, for all to hear. You hear the rattled scuffle of the birds flying off, startled by his yelling. He speaks of God's promises and of the need for repentance... that is, the need to reorient one's life to the path that God was calling them towards. He speaks to regular people and respected leaders, alike, though he saves a particular level of intensity for community leaders who forgot their responsibilities to the people they served. He was not at all interested in propping up leaders who participated in rituals acts but did not to serve their neighbors. He told them that to their faces. For those who performed righteousness in public but didn't practice faith in their private actions, his words crackled through the air: "Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." As John speaks, you can practically hear the ax whistle through the air. You can hear the pops of the flames. You can see the leaders begin to sweat.
As you wait your turn to be baptized, hearing the splashes of the repentant reaffirming their commitment to God's path, another man crunches his way to the water. John seems to know him. Surprisingly, John, who will stare down any Pharisee, comes up short with this man. Maybe you hear him suck in a breath while he decides what to do. As the river splashes and leaves scratch across the bark of their trees, you wait to hear what John will say. John finally speaks: "You should be the one baptizing me. Why on earth would you think I could do this for you?" The man who has come forward... you don't know who he is but you can hear him slide across the sand to get closer to John, says, "You can and should do this. I'm ready. I need you to do this with me." The bees drone and the fish flip out of the water, but you don't know what's going on. So, you listen.
The thing is, because you have never seen this man before this very moment, you don't know that something important is happening. This very moment that you are listening to is the moment when he finally gets the chance to say yes. His dad, Joseph, said yes once when an angel showed up and asked him to care for a child conceived in a situation that was scandalous at best, impossible at worst. Joseph said yes again, when there was another call from the divine directing him to steal away to Egypt in order to protect his holy/ human child because that child had a future that needed tending. You don't know that that child has grown into this man, and it is his turn to say yes on his own behalf. In the midst of the whoops of the crains, the croaks of the frogs, and the buzz of the mosquitos, you hear him say yes and ask John to say yes, too. He needs John to help him start the path of repentance and return towards God. John, who holds leaders accountable and welcomes regular folks to begin again with God, was more than capable of sending this one holy/human man on his way.
You hear John let out the breath he probably didn't realize he was holding and see him nod his head in affirmation, consenting to be a part of this journey with this man. You hear the water from the other baptisms trickle off his elbows as John raises his hands to take hold of the other man's shoulders and turn him sideways. You hear the man, Jesus, take a breath as he is gently laid back into the river. You hear that sound water makes when it envelopes something substantial. You hear water falling of his head and a gasp as John raises him back above the water. Then, you see something like a bird, and you hear something you did not expect.
You know that interview that I told you about with Gordon Hempton? My colleague who brought it to my attention did so because of one particular part of the interview. In talking about listening, Hempton spoke of the kinds of sounds that our ears can hear. He noted that many people believe that our ears evolved primarily to pick up other human voices. However, when you examine our hearing and the bandwidth of the sounds that we are most sensitive to, it turns out that most of the sounds that human voices make are actually a little lower than what we hear at our peak hearing sensitivity. It turns out that the sounds that can hear the best are sounds that are actually just a little higher than the sounds most of our human neighbors make. So, if human sounds aren't consistently in the range of our peak hearing, what kinds of sounds are? It turns out that bird songs are. Of all the sounds that we can hear the mostly strongly, it is the songs birds sing that most consistently fall in the range that we can hear best. It also turns out the basic elements that make an environment hospitable to birds are the same ones that make it hospitable to humans. Birds can tell us that the place whether the place where we are is a place where we can live. We, humans, have evolved to mostly clearly hear voices in our environments that draw us towards life.
If you had been standing there, watching Jesus' baptism, quite suddenly, you would have heard the sound of new life. Something that seems like a bird, the story tells us that it is the Holy Spirit, brings with it a call to life and mission. You would have heard a voice sharing love and confidence in the man who is standing, dripping, before you. You would have heard, maybe in the exact frequency for you to best hear, that this man is beloved and pleasing to God. You would have heard an affirmation that his acceptance of his mission and his willingness to participate in baptism have cleared the way for him to begin. He would have heard these things, too. And, so he would begin to work, first with God and John, and soon, with you, building God's reign here on earth. You would hear him splash his way out of the water. You would hear him crunch his way deeper into the wilderness. And, you would hear the voice of John, inviting the next person into the water of repentance and recommitment. The last question then becomes, when you hear call towards new life, will you say yes, too.
Pastor Chrissy consulted the following resources while writing this sermon:
Warren Carter: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preakching.aspx?commentary_id=3137
Interview with Gordon Hempton: http://www.onbeing.org/program/gordon-hempton-silence-and-the-presence-of-everything/4557
Karoline Lewis: https://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=4790
Karyn Wiseman: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1884
Eric Barreto: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=839
Jim Kast- Keat: http://www.onscripture.com/baptism-and-hope-new-year
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.’Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’
Thanks to Dr. Neal Walls who shared this picture with me. The original artwork depicted here is a mural on a wall in a church in Egypt. This particular image is taken from pg 37 in a book called The Escape to Egypt: According to Coptic Tradition (Cairo: Lehnert and Landrock, 1993). No author is listed, but the photo is attributed to Nabil Selim Atalla.
Flee to Egypt- Matthew 2:13-23
There is this scene in the film Milk, a film based on the life of 1970's activist and politician Harvey Milk, where Milk answers a phone call that he didn't expect. He was running around busy, I think running a campaign, and he answered the office phone, thinking it was his boyfriend and campaign manager, Scotty. It wasn't Scott, though. It was a teenager, a stranger from Minnesota. He said that he had learned about Milk in the newspaper. He said that he was thinking of killing himself. The next morning his parents were planning to take him to a hospital where they would "fix him." He didn't want to go. He sounded afraid. Milk told him that there was another option: he could run. Milk said, "There's nothing wrong with you - listen to me: You just get on a bus, to the nearest big city, to Los Angeles or New York or San Francisco, it doesn't matter, you just leave. You are not sick, and you are not wrong and God does not hate you. Just leave." You might be concerned about a grown man telling a teenager to run away from home. You would not be the only one. But, Milk understood something very clearly. Home is not always safe, especially if your family feels the need to "fix" you. Sometimes, the best option is to leave, and try to build a new, richer life elsewhere. So, that's what he told the young stranger on the phone.
In December of 1956, Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her bus seat for white passengers. Parks, after years of training in non-violent resistance, chose that day to stand up to the system that treated her as less than human simply because she was black. While she was not the first black citizen of Montgomery, Alabama, to be arrested for violating Jim Crow-era laws, she was the one that the activist community rallied around. Inspired by her act of resistance, the black citizens organized a successful boycott of segregated transit systems. After the Supreme Court ruled in their favor, the city could no longer enforce segregation on public buses.
While most people count Parks' action and the boycott that followed to be a victory for human rights, at the time, the white citizens of the Montgomery didn't appreciate Parks' bravery. She was fired from her job, as was her husband and no one else would hire them. While this was happening to the Parks family, other leaders in the boycott were being targeted. Dr. Martin Luther King and E.D. Nixon of the NAACP had their homes bombed. Churches were being burned. Increasingly, it became clear to Parks and her family that the city they had been fighting to make more just and free was not going to be a place where their family could thrive. While they had never truly been safe there while living under the Jim Crow laws, at least they could find work and meet their basic needs. It was increasingly difficult to do even that. The Parks family would join the more than 6 million African Americans to leave the poverty and segregation of the South during the period between 1915 and 1970. They moved to Detroit, Michigan, a city that had gained a reputation as a place where one could live and work with greater freedom. I am not at all sure that they would have chosen to move had they not felt unsafe and unable to support themselves. They knew that their best option was to leave and build a richer life elsewhere. So, they did.
Poet Warsan Shire, raised in London, of Somali-descent, and born in Kenya, often writes of migrant experience as she has experienced it living in Europe. After spending time with young Somali, Congolese, Eritrean, and Sudanese refugees in Rome, she wrote these words: "No one leaves home unless/home is the mouth of a shark." Her words, along with the scene in Milk and the memory of Rosa Parks' move to Detroit have echoed in my head this week as I have returned to the story of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fleeing into Egypt. This story makes it clear that their home had become the mouth of a shark. Now, Joseph had some angelic guidance that helped convince him to leave his ancestral home. That is pretty common in the earliest parts of Jesus' story in Matthew. The angel said to him, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." Joseph learned the name of his shark: Herod.
Herod was both a puppet and a tyrant. As a king appointed at the whim of the Roman emperor, he knew that his reign was tenuous. He would shore up his own weak power under Rome by taking advantage of the people he was supposed to rule and protect. When he heard from foreign scholars that the long-awaited Messiah, God's appointed ruler and savior of their people, had been born, he did not rejoice. Remember, most Jews thought that the Messiah would grow to be king. Herod wanted desperately to be king. He would protect his title at all cost. As he grew more fearful, he grew more violent. Matthew tells us that he ordered the murder of every infant and toddler in Bethlehem in hopes of catching the Messiah in his bloody sweep. Such is the danger of barely checked power. He got to decide who's lives had worth. He got to decide who could live in safety. He was able to destroy countless lives in order to preserve his own. Judea became the mouth of a shark and Jesus' family had to leave in order to be safe. There was a richer life... well, any life, available elsewhere. They left in order to save their child.
I freely admit that it can seem like a hard shift to go from hearing the radical and celebratory stories of Jesus birth one week and, then the next, hear this story of corrupted power and destruction. I mean, we had a lot of fun last week at church. We sang and ate bread and talked about potential and new life and brave parents and sweet babies. We had been waiting weeks, like the whole entire Advent season, to get to some joy, and we hardly get to enjoy it before we get to this hard, bloody story so early in Jesus' life. Can we not rest in the sweetness of Bethlehem and shepherds and new babies just a bit longer? Probably. I'm sure that plenty of people have stuck around in the sweetness. Or they've sought refuge in one of the football games that will be on today. But, even though it's hard, I think it's worth spending some time with this story right now, remembering the ways pain and heartbreak rub right up next to celebration and joy in this season and in our lives. Because, surely, this world and our lives give us plenty of reminders of heartbreak. This story reminds us that God's heart gets broken, too, and Jesus is right there, fleeing home, seeking renewed life in a new place among the powerless and vulnerable.
When we see Jesus' family displaced by political persecution, we are reminded of the long history of war and empire-building taking a toll on the least powerful members of a community. Joseph and Mary, despite knowing that their son had great Divine potential, were not powerful people. They were common to the point of being expendable to the king. Because they did not have the means to make themselves safe, they had to uproot their entire lives in order to survive. They had to be willing to leave the place that they had called home in order to find a place with they could live. In a way that mirrors the history of the whole Jewish people, the Holy Family were certain that God was present and working in their lives, but that certainty did not exempt from the tragedies of war and oppression. Jesus' own particular Divine calling did not protect him from the petty and dangerous whims of powerful people. His particular brand of divinity would not excuse him, or his family, from the struggles of powerless people living in the empire. In this story, we can see that he was right there, is right here, with anyone else who has ever had to move to be safe, who has had to escape the jaws of the shark that their home has become.
At the same time, reading this story can call us into action. While it reminds us that God lives among the refugees, it also calls us to be where God is, to help make a home for the displaced and to help make our home a bulwark against the insecure and powerful who would chew up the vulnerable for their own gain. It is clear in this story where God's allegiance lies and where is does not: with the family on the move and not with the mean-spirited and powerful. The story calls us to remember that our first allegiance is to God and to the ones that capture God's attention. It reminds us that we have a place in the midst of the struggle between those who destroy and those who work to live. We can be a way-station, a place of safety on the journey, a place set apart in order to welcome those who seek a new home. If we do it well, we may even become the place that people on the journey call home. You see, there are Josephs and Marys and Jesuses fleeing every day. May we be willing to open our doors wide and welcome them home.
Pastor Chrissy consulted the following sources while writing this sermon:
Eric Barreto: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3121
Karyn Wiseman: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1883
Mark Allan Powell: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=17
Karoline Lewis: https://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=4785
Sermon Brainwave podcast: https://www.workingpreacher.org/brainwave.aspx?podcast_id=830
Wanna read some more about Harvey Milk? Here are some quotes from the film about him: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1013753/quotes
Here is a very good, short biography of Rosa Parks: http://www.biography.com/people/rosa-parks-9433715#early-life-and-education
A helpful introduction to the Northern Migration: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129827444
The poem "Home" by Warsan Shire: http://www.commondreams.org/further/2015/09/04/no-one-leaves-home-unless-home-mouth-shark
Pastor Chrissy is a native of East Tennessee. She and her wife moved to Maine from Illinois. She is a graduate of the Divinity School at Wake Forest University and Chicago Theological Seminary.