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September 10th, 2017

Sermon: Values of the Sacred Fabric Unfold

Sermon preached at Christ Church, MD in La Plata & Newburg, MD on September 10, 2017
14th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 18) Year A, RCL: Exodus 12:1-14; Ps. 149; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all our hearts,
always acceptable to you, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

          This past Thursday, I was at the Washington National Cathedral, where I volunteer once a month as a Nave chaplain. I was there to attend the noonday Eucharist, and afterward, join other volunteer chaplains for a luncheon with the Cathedral’s Dean, Provost, Canon for Worship, and two Cathedral vergers.
          As I walked through the Nave, I overheard that ‘the windows had been taken out and moved to an undisclosed location.’
          In 2015, following the tragic mass shooting at Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, the Dean at that time called for the removal of two Cathedral stained glass windows that honor Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
          It was then that the Cathedral began a process to engage in deep questions of racial justice, the legacy of slavery, and God’s call to us in the 21st century. Over the past two years, there were many passionate voices who engaged Cathedral leadership and held them accountable to the process.
          Programs that were hosted, conversations within the Cathedral community, and events around the nation brought greater focus to a key question: Are the Lee-Jackson windows, installed in 1953, appropriate to the sacred fabric of a spiritual home for the nation?
          As you probably heard, the Cathedral Chapter decided Tuesday to immediately remove the windows. Their understanding is that the windows are inconsistent with the Cathedral’s mission to serve as a house of prayer for ALL people, and represented a barrier to important work on social justice and racial reconciliation. The Chapter determined the association with racial oppression, human subjugation, and white supremacy does not belong in the sacred fabric of the Washington National Cathedral.
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