Concluding a sermon by Rev. Ronald W. Leichty at First EUB in North Manchester, Indiana (May 14, 1967).
Through all of this there are at least two reasons why this whole issue is a religious concern.
First, because the maintenance of the status quo, maintaining things just as they are, this is not a Christian goal and a Christian concern. God sent Jesus Christ into the world to change things. Jesus was not sent to pat the Jews on the back and to say ‘nice goin’, boys; keep up the good work.’ Jesus was sent into this world to change things. And the history of the Christian Church, as the history of the United States, is a history of a people in revolution. This revolution we cannot ignore; it has come to us … we are a part of it.
Pentecost, which we celebrate today, is a recognition that God sent a continuing power to be with his people. God’s gift of the Holy Spirit whose task it was to continue to motivate his people, not just to revolt for revolution’s sake, but to look in the direction of what is needed in the world and to have the courage to move in that direction.
The red that you see on the paraments this morning is not just for beauty. This does not represent peace in the traditional sense. It does not represent tranquility. The red represents the blood of Jesus Christ. It represents the blood of martyrs in every generation who have died in order that the fulfillment of God’s challenge to his people might be fulfilled.
The first reason that this is a religious issue is because maintaining what is, is not the heart of the Christian faith.
The second reason why this is a religious issue is that it deals with our relation with God and with other people. Love your neighbor as yourself. This deals with other people. And we in the church are convinced that it is only as we are in a right relationship with God that we have a chance to be in a right relationship with our fellow man.
The work of leading and showing us what this means was left in the hands of Jesus on earth. And it was put into the hands of the Spirit to continue to motivate us so that we could understand that God did accept us when we weren’t fit to be accepted; and thus we must accept others if they do or say what they want or not. And we come to understand that we must love our neighbors as we would want them to love us. And we come to understand that we must hear them out even as we expect them to hear us.
We have been in a crisis, my friends. We have not come through unscathed. Perhaps we did not know where we were or what we believed ; now we do. Now we know the direction to go and the place where help is needed. And I am convinced of this: that it is a good thing we are Christians. For we know the source of our help. God through his ever-present Spirit offers to lead us individually to a deep, abiding and assured faith. And this we cannot take apart from that. He also offers to give us a faith by which we can respect and love and live with our fellow man.
God expects no more of us; we cannot ask any more of our fellow man. Amen.
…more next time…