Preacher: The Rev. Darrell Goodwin-Moultry
The Reverend Darrell Goodwin-Moultry is a native of Chicago, IL. He has lived in Seattle for the past nine years, serves as pastor and founder of Liberation United Church of Christ and the Dean of Students at Seattle University. He is passionate about social justice, inclusion, and creating a welcoming space in faith communities for all people.
In the Gospel Jesus is in effect reminding his disciples and all those that are gathered that the words, insights, prophetic musings, idealistic wanderings of those who had gone before him were happening and that indeed they were being and were indeed fulfilled. Jesus wanted them to understand that their Liberation and there freedom was a continuation of the legacy of those who had gone before them, yearned for before them, hoped for before them. He was ensuring them that his death and suffering was not in vain, and that it would not in effect come back to him void. However he was also reminding them that they were to be his witnesses, they were being told that the privilege of seeing him, and experiencing him was not without price they would need to go and share this truth with others. They would not be allowed to keep it to themselves.
In Jesus’ time people were being abused and misused, they were being oppressed not only by the Roman government but were facing oppression from their own Jewish community. People were married to tradition and a particular way of doing things and that caused some people to be outside of the arc of safety. There were those who were on the inside, the proud Jewish families, the wealthy, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the priests, and there were those on the outside, the poor, the sick, the widow, the Samaritan, the foreigner. Jesus’ life was the beginning of bending the arc of justice toward those who were marginalized and his death and resurrection were the solidifying that peace and unity would be the ultimate outcome, that victory and justice were imminent.
Jesus was not only killed for “being the son of God,” but for challenging the status quo, the comfort of the powerful, and the social structure that had made the few successful. So friends why are we still battling for racial, social, and economic equality? Why are we still battling for a living wage for the poor, or for marriage equality, equal rights for women? Why are we still trying to convince our friends, neighbors, and family members that it is not justifiable to kill young black men dead in the streets? Why are we protesting an attorney general who finally has the courage to charge murder as murder?
My posit is that we have somewhat forgotten the Jesus who was risen. This Jesus was not pretty, he was not blonde with blue eyes, with an orb of light surrounding his head and a white robe. He was wounded, the nails prints in his hands and feet, the piercing remaining in his side. His face was battered with the imprint of thorns in his head. and he was saying “I did this for freedom and now that I’m leaving I want you to help free my people.” We are invited to be free and liberated ourselves so that we can help free and liberate others. “Free people free people.” Jesus was not calling us to build beautiful temples, to establish as many committees as we have created, he wasn’t calling us to build systems of governance or councils of liturgy. Those things though useful are for us and often help us stay safe from doing what Jesus was really calling us to do, which was to risk our lives so that we and others might truly live.
The church is where change should start first, economic change, racial change, equality and inclusion. That means we will have to take off our white robes, take off the make-up, dishevel our hair and be willing to be honest about our own wounds and brokenness. It means that we will have to proclaim justice, and freedom, not only in these four walls but everywhere we find ourselves, This will not be easy, it will make some folks mad, we will lose some friends, investors, community affiliations and maybe some family members, but we will be fulfilling the GOSPEL.
What am I asking you to do? Maybe for some of you it’s joining a march, challenging your jobs systems, going to an anti-racism workshop, maybe it’s you challenging your church to make sure that it welcomes and not tolerates those who are different than the majority. I think most importantly, I am asking you to tell the truth and speak that truth to power, because inside we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit. We must let the world know that inclusion and justice will be fulfilled. Nine years ago Fr. Armand told me that Liberation would grow, not to give up, he gave a 25-year-old the opportunity to have a safe place to worship so that Liberation could become what is now. Who are you being called to know that there is a brighter and bigger future ahead? Who are you being called to remind that whom the son set free is free indeed?