Friday, January 1, 2016

We know why Jesus, why Kwanzaa

On this last day of Kwanzaa, the day when the seventh principle of Imani is lifted up. I post this sermon preached on the second day of Kwanzaa. Please don't get caught up in the grammar. This sermon was written to be preached not read!

We know why Jesus, why Kwanzza?
All Peoples, Milwaukee
Luke 2:41-52
December 27, 2015

Grace and peace to you from God
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer

As we continue in the season of Christmas
We celebrate the birth of a baby
A baby born to an underaged, unwed mom in what was literally
the equivalent of  a barn

This baby,
despite his underprivileged circumstances,
 is born to be the savior of the world
He is  born to teach to love ,
though some in the world didn’t show him much love

He is born that we might have life
and have it more abundantly
though he didn’t have much

This morning
we see that this baby that brought the divine into the ordinary
has grown into a boy child
He was 12,
for us just short of being a teenager
and everything that implies
and in Jewish culture just short of being a man.

In other words
the writer of the text wants us to know that
 Jesus is still a boy
subject to his parents dictates

The bible tells us that they were looking for him
Wondering and worrying about where their child was after three days

and when they find him
he answers them surprised that they didn’t already understand
where he had been and what he was doing
that he was listening to and asking questions of the religious leaders
He tells them:
Did you not know that I must be in my father’s house
in other translations
his reply
“I had to be about my father’s business”

This boy child who was born into a world of  strife,
oppression a political and economic system
that kept one group of people down,
to keep others ensconced in privilege

Things were so serious when Jesus was born that he and his family became refugees because the king was afraid
afraid that this baby,
this child would threaten his power and authority

Today we read,
 when his mother finds him,
instead of being mad at him
 she treasures these things in her heart.
Because as Jesus said
“I had to be about my Father’s business.”

His father’s business was the businees of. . .
turning things around,
lifting up the lowly
filling the hungry with good things
guiding our feet in the way of peace
giving knowledge of salvation to the people

As we celebrate this 1st Sunday of Christmas and this second day of Kwanzaa
we understand why Jesus
Why Kwanzza?
I sure that you guys already know that
Kwanzaa was birthed in the1960’s
during the height of the civil rights movement
when the Black Panthers, US and SNCC, Commandos
were fighting for the rights of Blacks,
when MLK was preaching non-violence

When it came to the rights of the Negro as we were called back then
This country was a mess.
Blacks were fighting for the right to vote,
the right to live wherever they wanted

Blacks were fighting for education and for the success of their children
to achieve what was back then the American Dream
Yet, the system, the government, the world as it was did everything it could to deny those rights.
As if black lives didn’t matter….

Kwanzaa was born,  49 years ago as Maulena Karenga
pulled together different aspects and elements of African Culture
language of kiswahill from East Africa,
the strength and determination and colorfulness of West Africa
to give African Americans a holiday that connected them to their roots
Kwanzaa was born
in an era of marches and protests
In the 1960’s when I was a child,
there were images on black and white television screens
as police officers turned hoses on protesters
and loosed dogs on them in an attempt as they would say….
 to keep order, but whose order?
and what are we seeing now?
All over our television screens we are seeing
the video tapes of the death of  our children,
the unlawful arrest of our sisters
the nonindictment or acquittal of those who take lives instead of keeping peace
we see such unjust treatment in so many places

Yeah we know why Jesus because the world still needs a savior,
violence, poverty, oppresion
even in Brazil that has the largest population of African descent persons
outside of Africa.
While Afro –Brazillians make up over 50 percent of the population in Brazil workers earn less than half of the lighter skinned population

Yes this world needs a savior
to turn around systems of oppression
to lift up the lowly and send the mighty away…….
 Why Kwanzza?
Because no matter how far we have come in this country
 as African Americans
there is still so far to go
 because of  the history, of being
foreceable being brought to this country and needed for labor
In the 1800’s an ideological theory of the inferiority of those with darker skin was constructed that allowed for the systemic  enslavement and continue mistreatment of blacks,
all over the world

The people of the world can’t get in their minds that black lives matter,
because of course you know
to be correct, we’re told….
all lives matter

Why Kwanzaa
because of sterotypes, because of injustices….like slavery
redlining, separate but equal school systems,
the prison indistrial complex

Why Kwanzaa because
of Dontre, Darius, Trayvon, Tamir, Eric, Freddie, Sandra, Michael, Tyshawn,
the Charleston 9
And so many whose names you know
Kwanzza is
Not religious or political but in the midst of an injust world we need something that is cultural
that speaks to those of African descent of where we come from
and helps us determine where we are going.
something that reminds us that black lives matter

And we need the seven principles of the Nguzo Saba
Umoja, Kujichaquila, Ujima, Ujamaa,
Nia, Kuumba, Imani

We need these principles-- the concept of unity so that we will stand together in times of trouble,

self determination---
so that we know we have the strength to decide our lives,
our realities and who and what we will be as individuals 
how and what we will do as a community
So that we have faith not only in a savior but in ourselves and in others

Karenga said it so well as he writes about the focus of this year’s celebrations
“The Nguza Saba is a Black value system. . . directing our lives toward good and expansive ends,
and towards conceiving and bringing into being the good communities,
societies and world we all want and work and struggle so hard to bring into being.”
because we are those who follow Christ
those who celebrate the birth of a saviour
celebrating Kwanzaa helps us put the two together

In our text,
Jesus, the boy who will save the world has now discovered who he is
and is not afraid to let his earthly parents know that their priorities for his safety are not his,
“I had to be about my father’s business.”
These seven principles strengthen us to be about the business of the community and the uplift of a people

To be about the business of speaking up and out about injustice,
to be about the business of educating the next generation
to be about
loving each other as God loves us

It’s been over forty years since the civil rights movement
and a new generation of young people has been come to understand racism and inequality, still exist

There was a whole generation that was raised to think
everything was okay or at least better
The proof that many pointed to is that a black man made it into the white house

Some of us never thought that would happen.

 This reality seemed to anger main stream America so much that all hell has broken loose

This black man in the white house has faced criticism and lack of cooperation that seems unprecedented

And yet Obama was elected to a second term
and has improved the finacial condition of the country though his critics don’t want to believe it

Despite all of this racism still exists!

It’s Christmas and we know why Jesus….
because through it all we have something to hold on to
because he brought us this far by faith
because we come too far to turn back now
because we know Jesus loves us
because black lives matter

Why Kwanza?
Because the world hasn’t figured out yet how to love black people
the world doesn’t belive that black lives matter
whether in the Central African Republic
where the poorest of the poor live
where the country has been in strife since 2012
Have you heard about that on the nightly news?
because who cares about poor black people whether on the continent of Africa

or  Baltimore, Ferguson, Chicago
where black boys, black men…….girls and women
don’t even warrant due process

Yeah we need Jesus
the one who died on a cross
and rose from the grave so that even
we know that we matter,
that God’s love is for the entire world
not just a few….
You know :
“for God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whomsoever believes”
he sent this boy child into the world!

Yeah we need Jesus
and we need this celebration
of Kwanzaa so we don’t forget
no matter what anyone says
Black Lives Matter!

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