The book of Job today has a great deal to teach us. The book reminds us that, as people of faith, we are not simply called to offer intellectual answers to suffering from a distance, but called to enter in and listen lovingly and non-judgementally to the pain of the human journey. If you know the story of Job, his friends all offered what seemed as simple, easy answers. God in the story was different. God listened for 37 chapters before speaking, as we hear in today’s reading. I think this is important for suffering in our own lives; we often need to lament a lot to God before we can hear God. Perhaps, especially in all that has happened in our country, church, and world, we as a community need to lament, and from the lamenting we can then be opened to really hearing where the mystery of God’s love can offer us hope.
Today’s gospel is about a storm and how, through the storm, did the disciples see things differently. A good image for us this year. Jesus, moving with them through the storm, seems to be asleep, but it is really the disciples that need to be awakened to his presence. Jesus moves with them through fear to greater faith. We can all probably relate to that fear, especially this year. Jesus also is showing them that their journey through the storm is leading them to a new reality. Their faith will move them to the periphery where there is human suffering, but the boat will also move them beyond what is comfortable and familiar as they will leave Jewish territory and enter gentile territory where they will see their call and ministry to become inclusive.
Perhaps this is our journey. If the church, St Agnes, is an image of a boat, how through the storm have we been awakened to the presence of God? Have we moved from the paralysis of fear to the faith that sets us out on a new beginning to go beyond what is comfortable and to enter into what is new?
With this in mind, I invite you to perhaps get a little uncomfortable and learn more about Juneteenth (some references to get you started can be found below). Often times we are unaware of much of our Black history. And we may need to confront our own prejudice that we are not even conscious of so that we might move to a newer, more inclusive reality.
Here are just a few options to help us begin to understand the history and significance of Juneteenth:
PBS, Africans in America
UNC, Documenting the American South
Bernice Johnson Reagon, “The Songs Are Free”
PBS and Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name
David H. Jackson, Jr., Charles Banks: Wizard of Mound Bayou