January 19, 2020, Starting Your YouTube Channel, by Reverend David Tatgenhorst
In our moment of reflection today, let’s meditate together on Jesus question in our reading today, “What are you looking for?” What is it that we search for and hope to find as we come to this place, as we listen for God’s voice, as we hear God’s call?
Starting Your YouTube Channel
Every month, on the first Thursday of the month, there’s a breakfast at White Rock Baptist Church at 53rd and Chestnut St. in West Philadelphia. It’s a meeting of NewCORE, the New Conversation on Race and Ethnicity. I’ve been going to the meetings for about 10 years, off and on. It is a safe place for people to talk about their racial life history. Each meeting somebody tells their story and we listen and try to help each other go deeper into their story.
Every month, Rev. Steven Lawrence, who is the leader of the group and who has preached here before, asks a clever question of the whole group, to get us thinking and talking briefly before the main presenter. His question last month was “If you started your own YouTube Channel or podcast, what would it be about? What would you have to say?” I thought this was an excellent and engaging question. I speak every week to this congregation and I think I have something to say. But what do I have to say that isn’t just responding to the scripture of the week, that is important and pointed enough to publish online and expect the whole world to listen?
What would you talk about that the world needs to hear? I read our passage this morning as a call to follow Jesus, and as a call to tell others about our faith. We who have been baptized have that call on our lives, to let other people know how our lives have been transformed because of the Living God. I suspect that if we think about the most important thing we have to tell people, what our YouTube would be about, it would reflect how Christ has touched our lives, and helped to make us whole.
As for me, I answered Rev. Lawrence that day, that my YouTube would be specifically on the subject “the self-interest of white people in ending racism.” And as it happens, the people who organized the Martin Luther King events in Bryn Mawr this afternoon asked me to give the ‘sending forth” at the end of the event. I’m wondering if you would like to hear what I’m planning to say? I’m kinda hoping you’ll say yes, since this is the plan. If I had a YouTube channel, I this is the kind of thing I would say:
The Martin Luther King day holiday is a holiday for all of us. It is a day for all of us to reflect on how we’re in this together. Those of us who are white sometimes think that the holiday is for someone else. Or we think of it as a day for service. Our church families like to do our bit by going to paint a school or pick up some trash at a site in the city. This can be a good step, but I want to suggest we can go deeper.
By deeper I mean I hope we can come to realize that MLK’s message is for all of us. Black people are dying physically from the scourge of racism, but we white people are dying too – at least our souls are dying as long as we ignore what is going on.
Teachers and Black children are dying in Philadelphia as schools are death traps of asbestos. As POWER has shown, our state tax dollars are inequitably distributed around the state, so that some parts of the state have money for new schools, and others are struggling to even have safe schools, let alone schools with art or music classes.
Black people are dying from gun violence and Black people are dying in the criminal justice system through mass incarceration and systems of profiling.
Black people are dying physically and facing all kinds of obstacles, but all of us are dying spiritually as we live in a society that tolerates this kind of violence. We die a little as all become susceptible to the lies that are told about people of color. We die as we white people become complicit in the blindness that ignores the everyday realities of people living in poverty, pulling back into a safe bubble, a safe suburb, a safe community, acting like the problem is over there, across the border in the city. We die a little when end up living in fear and living within self imposed limits that keep us from experiencing the full possibilities of this beautiful world in all its variety and vibrancy.
Martin Luther King Jr worked to liberate us all, worked to open our eyes, to connect us, to enable democracy to thrive, to bring us all alive. Here’s a couple of ways we can become involved.
We can connect with groups like the Sisters of Salaam/Shalom. This past Wednesday evening, there was a Unity Day event at my church organized by the sisters of Salaam/Shalom, a group of Muslim and Jewish women allied to combat anti Semitism and Muslim violence. They organized it to protest growing anti-semitism, the stabbing of Jewish people in New York in a rabbi’s house a couple weeks ago. They were making important connections. As Black people are targeted by racism, a whole structure of white supremacy is built, and that structure requires scapegoats. Jewish and Muslim folks, LGBT people, women, and socialists become some of the scapegoats of this system. When we stand with someone who is being scapegoated we all come alive and help to challenge racism.
Here’s a second way to go farther. On Sunday February 23rd, at 3 pm, POWER Main Line is sponsoring the first of a series of symposiums on the 1619 project, the education effort of the New York Times exploring the ways in which the enslavement of African people beginning in 1619 has distorted our democracy and our lives in this country. We invite you to come to St Luke Church that afternoon to continue to explore the ways we can liberate ourselves from the effects of this historic and continuing violence. We are working to change the narrative in 2020, to open our eyes, give up the fear, and challenge racism in the city, in our state, and on the Main Line.
This is a holiday for us all. Not just for some of us. It’s a holiday for us to realize we are all in this together, no matter what kinds of walls have been built between city and suburb, between one community and another. We are all in this together.
Thanks for being here today. Let’s go work together to tear down the walls so all of us can live.
That’s what I’m going to say this afternoon. Anita Friday is also going to speak and I appreciate your support in listening this morning. I’d be happy for your feedback. I don’t want to shame people and if any of this felt that way, I would like to find a different way to do it, so let me.
This would be on my YouTube channel. If I had one, this is the kind of thing I would want to say to the broader world. The only thing I would add here is that all of us have a part in Jesus’ story. As baptized people, we are all part of the story. Jesus life is in every one of us, Jesus baptism, incarnation, death and resurrection is part of each of us. All of us have a piece of God’s good news. What do you have to say?
Responsive Hymn 2127 Come and See