Sermon 897 21 June 2020

Sermon 897 Why Christians Should Protest
Today I am talking about why Christians should protest and also it is Father’s day so I share this; about a picture I saw recently about a dad during a protest rally. He was holding up a large hollow tube. His sign read “This is the last straw” Truly a dad joke to start a sermon on protesting on Father’s day.
Several times this week people have asked me my opinion on the protests. Personally I think they are great. Now I should probably explain.
The Christian faith has a long history of protesting, starting with Jesus himself. His attack on the corrupt financial system connected to the synagogue occurred when he went in and overturned the money exchange tables. This would be considered by some to be a violent attack on a church but by others it would be seen to be a breaking point.
I was digging in my basement and I found two newspaper articles from the year 32ad. (For those of you not following closely – there were no newspapers or printing press in 32ad.)
No matter how you look at this story, Jesus was frustrated and angry by the corruption of the ruling bodies to the point that he took action.
This was the beginning point in a long history of Christian protesting. Eleven of the twelve disciples were executed for their actions. Many of their charges were based on “challenging the laws” and “unlawful assembly”. However protests did not stop with the disciples. There are too many martyrs to mention. If you google Christian Martyrs” you will find a great long list. In the last 100 years there have been 80 well known people or entire groups, executed for their Christian faith. In some cases their families were killed with them.
Those are just the martyrs, which does not take into account the number of Christian protests and demonstrations.
One of the largest protests in history was during the reformation. People were unhappy with the Roman Catholic Church. They felt strongly that the theology and practices were misguided and corrupt. So they revolted. The church retaliated with horrible vengeance and we have the history of the torture chambers. The group that dissented were called Protest-ants from the word protest. The protestants then went on to become the United Church, the Baptists, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Mennonites and almost every other church that is not Roman Catholic.
Protesting is a basic part of the Christian faith.
Protesting is a basic part of human existence.
Demonstrations are a way for people to get together and feel supported.
Unfortunately we have a very tainted view of demonstrations. Media and the powers that be like to smear the demonstrators and so they highlight the looting and violence.
I don’t agree with the looting but I do understand it.
Often when there is an extreme level of frustration we take it out physically. How many can say they have never slammed a door or thrown an item across the room.
In the USA right now the average minimum wage is $11. Unemployment is at 13% The average cost of just going to the hospital and having a baby is $10,000 – $30,000. People see the stores as symbols of oppression and they attack them. Having said that, I know there are people who just like to have the opportunity to steal but that has nothing to do with the protest.
The vast majority of demonstrations are not violent. Sometimes the violence is staged by people who are opposed to whatever the issue is. They just want to make it look bad.
There are protests all over the world. Last week there was a demonstration in France because they want better protection for health care workers. The reason I noticed it was because the crowd was being hit with a water canon
We have lots of protests here in Canada. Last week there was a Black Lives Matter demonstration here in Innisfil.
There was a demonstration at Extendicare in Toronto by the families of residents. 50 of the 159 residents died from Covid. The families want change.
During normal times there are protests at Queens Park all the time. They are peaceful. I have been involved in anti-war and anti-poverty demonstrations many times. There are demonstrations by many groups. I even went to a demonstration put on by farmers over land issues.
Sometimes there are humorous elements. I was once leading an anti-war demonstration in a good size town in Alberta. At the last minute the police told us we had to have a parade permit and the office wasn’t open until Monday. One of the higher ranking and sympathetic police came to me and told me that if we had a prayer it would be classed as an outdoor worship and we didn’t need a permit. Four hundred people bowed their heads for a word of prayer.
Do protests and demonstrations do any good? Yes they do.
If there is a large crowd protesting something, then the company or the government or whoever does actually notice. They may down play it but they notice. Ask Ghandi, So does the public. It raises awareness Change happens when people unite.
Secondly it profoundly affects you. The action of standing up for something you believe in empowers you.
Jesus understood that when he said “I have come to set people against each other” He realised that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself even if others around are opposed. (It may seem odd to have this on father’s day but it is reality)
Suzy Kassem – an Egyptian poet living in the USA supports Christ’s view when she says” “Stand up for what is right even if you stand alone. Stand up for truth, regardless of who steps on it.”
Jesus continues on with “ If you are trying to save your life you will lose it but if you are willing to lose your life, you will save it” By losing your life he meant losing some of your privilege, lifestyle, and addictions. He meant losing some of the obsessions we have with consumerism and competition. I believe he also meant that if you are actually willing to lose your life for something you will gain the freedom to pursue it. You save your life by losing what isn’t important and striving after what is crucial.
If you think there is something wrong in your own life – fix it.
If you think there is something wrong in this world then get some friends together or by yourself – express it and fix it.
Jesus did!
God, we each seek for perfection in all areas of life. We want to succeed. You have shown us the ways to make ourselves and the world flawless, yet we get distracted by greed; we get preoccupied by comfort, we get pressured by opinions. Help us to have the courage to stand up for what is right regardless of the cost. Help us to carry through with our decisions in spite of ridicule. Help us to have faith in ourselves, in others and in you.
Open our hearts and minds to see the beauty of Christ in everyone and everything.
We pray now for people who are close to us, We pray for others who especially need pray at this time.
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever Amen
Opening Prayer
Hymn – 427 To Show by Touch and Word
Scripture Matthew 10: 34-39
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 289 It only takes a Spark
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
Not Peace, but a Sword Matthew 10: 34-39
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.