August 16, 2022

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, The Rev. Dr. Kelly Sherman-Conroy

Kin and Healing – Kelly Sherman-Conroy

A toddler’s parents.  A father and a grandfather to many. The compassion of a synagogue staff that is well recognized. A a devoted father and art enthusiast. Sitting to write my sermon, this was on my mind. The stories of those killed and the many injured this past Monday in Chicago over the 4th of July.

So In what direction do I take this reading for today? Scouring my books, I came across a quote I highlighted by Chief Seattle. For those who do not know who Chief Seattle was, he was a Chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes who lived around the Pacific Coast bay, which is today called Puget Sound. By the early 1850s, small bands of Euro-Americans had established villages along Puget Sound’s banks. Chief Seattle welcomed his new neighbors and seems to have treated them kindly. In 1853, several settlers moved to a site on Elliott Bay to establish a permanent town—since Chief Seattle had proved so friendly and welcoming, the settlers named their tiny new settlement in his honor.

He said, “We know this: all things are bound up in each other like the blood that binds the family.”

The Good Samaritan Parable is found in the Gospel of Luke. set in the middle of ethnic, racial, political, and religious tension. The overall purpose of the literary art we call The Gospel of Luke is to present the way of Jesus to heal our humanity, tear down the walls that separate us and help us find harmony and wholeness. Luke wants us to understand who Jesus is. Not a parochial prophet whose purpose is to re-establish the power of the Jewish people; Jesus, for Luke, is not a religiously-oriented politician whose goal is to reconstitute the nation of Israel.

Jesus, says Luke, preaches the Kingdom of God. But God’s Kingdom can never be identified with any existing political power, and it will never be cozy with a king, a provincial kingdom, or a nation. The Kingdom Jesus knows more like a kin-dom, a commonwealth of diverse people in relationship with one another, living and working together for the common good.

Luke wrote his Gospel to show the relevance of Jesus to the world’s social problems, the tensions tearing us apart, hurting our humanity, and wounding the world. Luke’s purpose is to show that Jesus heals not only our wounds but our societal ones as well. The way of Jesus, he believes (and so do I), is one way we can help heal our wounded humanity. The way of Jesus works for the well-being of the world.

The photo on the screen shows my family on their “front porch” This is my 3x great Grandmother Maggie Frazier and her brother, my Uncle Artemis Frazier. They were exiled from Minnesota. The land on which Gloria Dei resides belonged to them. This was the place of their birth when I said at the start, The parents of a toddler—a father of eight and a grandfather to many. A synagogue employee is known for her kindness. A family man who loved the arts. This could describe them.

I like this photo. Many of their friends and neighbors, whose life is sacred, were senselessly taken by gun violence. And as I write this today, many have woken up in the past few weeks without their loved ones, for the remainder of their life. Beautiful, sacred lives whose futures were destroyed by violence. Targeted by yet another young man who embodied violent evil lies of a white supremacist ideology.

Luke explains the Good Samaritan Parable showing that Jesus undermines any sense of racial, ethnic, religious, or any other kind of supremacy some people might think they possess over others.

Recently, a friend wrote and expressed her concern that there are not enough front porches and that their strength is insufficient to combat the ongoing waves of violence and grief. Sh e talks about sowing the seeds of hope, justice, mercy, connection, and love. But in our societies, the seeds of violence, evil, hatred, and fear have been fostered for far too long and is far too effective.   The senseless violence that my family endured and that we still hear each week in the news reflect an ugly truth about the state of our humanity today. The systems tasked with keeping us safe reveal the deep roots of a harmful belief that some lives don’t matter. Given how frequently we witness this violence, the seeds that have been planted are producing unfathomable yet completely imaginable levels of violence.My friend Kristina continued to write,

What we have let flourish is fear.

What we have allowed to take up space is violence.

What we have neglected to weed out is hatred.

What we are left with is…death.


FAMILY. Your happiness is intricately entwined with that of your neighbors, and their happiness is entwined with yours. And today, hatred and terror, has destroyed the sacred lives of our families, our kin-dom.It has ripped the fabric of our humanity. And it will need ALL OF US to be there to mourn this terrible fracture within our community. to finally, painstakingly, slowly sew what can be repaired together. In remembrance, keep in mind how our communities have undergone further change and will never be the same.

I want to inspire a more creative and integrative approach to healing our humanity—an approach I think is more in line with Jesus. In today’s reading, Jesus models how to build a bridge between people. Jesus found common ground between two peoples and went even further—he named, honored, and celebrated the good he saw in the other. The Samaritans showed him hostility. But Jesus didn’t return it. Instead, he looked for and found the good in the other. He named the beauty that he saw among the poor villagers of Samaria, the way they cared for each other when their fears didn’t drive them, and the compassion he knew lived within them. And so, he made the Samaritans the heroes of his story. He named the virtues of a people others considered enemies. I think he knew the principle that “people will generally live up to the exceptions we have for them.” The saying’s not always true, but it’s more accurate than we give it credit for.

We are, whether we’ll see it or not, kin . . . family. And if we don’t learn to lean into that reality, if we don’t cross over into each other’s lives, we’ll all suffer, and the earth with us.

Walter Brueggeman once said that lament is the act of giving voice to the fact that things are not as they should be and that they must change. My lamenting has brought me to this, my Kin, that the situation is not good. But we can transform this and bring about healing. I want to encourage you to mourn with me, and with everyone. Shed tears, scream, grieve, swear. Do something like this, though, among one another since doing so will initiate  healing. with your Kin. Risk influencing one another with healing change. Please pray that the Spirit may be able to use us to nurture us all.

My friend continued to write, “Keep in mind that our seeds of connection, kindness, justice, and love make their way” to this sacred land where we live. If we can see those who seem so different from us as kin, family, and the neighbor God calls us to love as much as we love ourselves, as our very selves, if we can practice curiosity instead of criticism, if we can name and honor and celebrate their virtues, then we will build bridges rather than walls and find ways to enter into one another’s world and begin healing that has fractured our humanity.

Everywhere it seems we are surrounded by death, however, we still need to be there to fill the void left by our shared humanity. However, the Holy Spirit is already here with us.  The Spirit has never left us alone and carries And brings a method of reconciliation and kinship that has been lost. A way of connectedness, mutuality, and companionship where we embrace the truth and our beautiful differences. Your joy is my joy, just as my suffering is your suffering. We embody the healing we require, even in our worst moments.