Holy Cross Day 2020

Climate Change / Current Affairs

Storyblocks cross with beautiful sunset with fog czech landscape with cross with orange sun and clouds during morning hilly mystic landscape with cross end of night with cross B5GwBaf7ZzLord Jesus hear us;

the earth is crying in torment, the west is in flames, storms threaten the southern coasts and our communities are separated by pandemic.

Our leaders seem absent and uncaring while our communities are turned against each other.

By the power of your Holy Cross, overcome our woundedness and bring us hope and a new dawn.

Protect those in danger and turn the hearts of those intent on harm.

Let us find our true community gathered around your cross.

In your name we pray this.

Amen.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive the sins done against us

Sermons and audio

Pexels pixabay 247851Refusing to forgive other people for the things that they did to you is like you taking poison as way of hurting them. There is one way out of the nightmare of violence, anger and revenge. It is to forgive others – even if they haven’t asked for your forgiveness.

Jesus makes this point again and again. I don’t know that I’ve yet to fully act in the way he asks me to act. But if I forgive others, I have a hope and a promise that I can still be forgiven, even if my sin is greater than theirs.

 

Fannie Sellins, the labor union martyr | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Current Affairs

The first parish I led as a priest was in Brackenridge PA. The community it served included Natrona Heights and Tarentum, the neighboring towns. Labor Day there was remembered differently than it has been anywhere else I’ve lived, in part because there were still people who remember the “Hunky Strike” of 1919. 

People told stories of the Pinkertons and other para-military, para-police groups that were brought in to stop the strike, and people still remembered the labor leaders in the community who died at their hands. 

One in particular is remembered:

Fannie Sellins, the labor union martyr | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

In 1919, a year of intense labor strife, race-motivated riots and anti-foreign xenophobia, Sellins was assigned as lead organizer in the Allegheny Valley for the AFL’s attempt to organize the steel industry. This effort was sometimes referred to as the “Hunky Strike” because of the involvement of large numbers of Slovaks, Polish and other immigrants from eastern and central Europe. The 1919 dispute grew to become the largest work stoppage to that date in American history.

While the corporate-influenced press manipulated anti-immigrant hysteria by questioning the loyalties and motivations of foreign-born residents, industrialists also stoked the fire of racism by large-scale recruitment of poor black sharecroppers from the South to break the steel strike. The boll weevil infestation of Southern cotton at the time, and also the lure of higher-paying industrial jobs during World War I and afterward, drove the mass migration of black labor northward. The language of racial division, combined with anti-immigrant sentiments, finds powerful echoes in American politics today.

On Aug. 26, Sellins was accompanying a group of miners’ wives and children near a union picket line when she attempted to intervene in the beating of a striker named Joseph Starzeleski. Mine guards turned on Sellins, shot her multiple times and then crushed her head with a club. They then shot Starzeleski several times. The photograph of Sellins battered body hung in steelworker organizing offices during the 1919 steel strike.

The Episcopal Church has a prayer for Labor Day:

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

There are echoes here of the strife and the bloodshed that was necessary to create good and safe jobs. My prayer is that we would hear the echoes, and make sure that the sound of that violence is never heard in this land again.

President Obama’s words to all of us today

Current Affairs

President Obama, giving the eulogy at Congressman John Lewis’s funeral today, said (in part) the following:

[T]his country is a constant work in progress. We were born with instructions: to form a more perfect union. Explicit in those words is the idea that we are imperfect; that what gives each new generation purpose is to take up the unfinished work of the last and carry it further than anyone might have thought possible.

John Lewis — the first of the Freedom Riders, head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, youngest speaker at the March on Washington, leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Member of Congress representing the people of this state and this district for 33 years, mentor to young people, including me at the time, until his final day on this Earth — he not only embraced that responsibility, but he made it his life’s work.

John Lewis lived his faith in a public way that challenges each of us who say we are following the same Lord. May the Holy Spirit give us the grace to follow, however imperfectly, in his powerful steps.