Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday Homily: The Feast of the Martyrs of Uganda

There are days that leave us grasping for nobler things to say. Days when even our good sense cannot bail us out. Days when our first impulse (rightly) is grief.

Today is the day we remember--and in a true and strange way, celebrate--the deaths of thirty-two Ugandan Christian, by burning, and the faith for which they died. They were burned when the king rightly surmised that when they called Christ their king, they meant it.

So they remind us that the Kingdom of God is not obvious Good News to those who count themselves as kings already. Moreover, they remind us that, in a world of violence, embodying peace oftentimes stands to elicit more violence.

It is not always peaceful to be peaceful.

All of which is why--points to the fact that--it takes courage to pray 'thy kingdom come.'

'Thy kingdom come,' when the world has its own kingdoms set up already.
'Thy kingdom come,' when, if I am honest, most of the kingdoms set up already are very much in my favor (that is, I like them).
'Thy kingdom come,' when the invitation of the new Kingdom offers no promise to us, save to see the face of God.

This past Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, Fr Ned summed up the resurrection hope this way: He said, for believing Christians, that 'Death is no longer fatal." The witness of the martyrs of Uganda--and of ever time and place--belongs to that statement. For if death is no longer fatal, life need no longer be fearful.

So the saints do not fear death; they don't even fear one another; and they have long ceased fearing themselves.

Freed from their fears, they sing songs, they forgive--they forgive!--even the ones who burn them.

Be not afraid!

O that we would take those words and plant them in our hearts; remind our selves of them; align our lives with them.

Be not afraid--where do those words find their target in you?

You and I, in Christ and together--may we find the courage--may we receive here the gift--to witness the peace and the joy of the risen Jesus--even, and especially, where our fears are revealed.

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