This message was shared by Rev. Nicole Lamarche on Sunday 8/20/17 at 80 S. 5th Street downtown San Jose
It is really wonderful to be back among you this morning after our family vacation in the Pacific Northwest.
It has been a summer I will never forget.
I survived my 20th High School Reunion, our sweet Eliza turned 6, my husband Jeremy started a new exciting job in Virtual Reality. And in the world beyond my little family, it has been a summer I will never forget.
It has been a summer where the power of words to unsettle has been made visible- words incited anger and invited uncertainty.
Last week in Charlottesville, VA in protest of the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee, an American general known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War, a group of angry white men with literal Tiki-torches and such boldness as to not require a face covering, chanted, “White Lives Matter!” “You will not replace us,” “Blood and soil” and, “Jews will not replace us.” The next day, a young woman died from a terror attack by a white supremacist.
The wounds of our nation are out for all the world to see, the sin and legacy of slavery and white supremacy is not yet a scar, it is a deep and seeping wound that has never fully been dressed and now here we are.
In response to this tragedy, President of the United States responded, “I wonder: Is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?” “You know, you really do have to ask yourself — where does it stop?”
Before the end, he said, “You’re changing history, you’re changing culture…”
Imagine how those words were heard when they landed in the hearts of those on our Native American reservations. Imagine how those words were heard when they reached the shores of all of the places we have colonized.
This is a summer we should never forget, because let it be the one when we speak and live the truth. White Supremacy is as American as GI Joe and Apple Pie and we must get real before we can get on.
Removing statues on Confederate soldiers and generals is not changing history; it is about changing how we tell the story. It is changing how seriously we take the historic hurt and generational trauma of African Americans in this country. It is changing how symbolize the past so those chains will not keep showing up in new forms.
Let this be a summer we never forget because let it be the summer when America acknowledged the layers of wrong, so we can see the layers of hurt and we can affirm the truth of our history, to undo its hold on us now.
This morning I want to invite us into the spiritual practice, the life saving, culture preserving, collectively redemptive act of the importance of being wrong. It is essential for our individual and communal healing.
Even Jesus was wrong.
In what seems to me to be one of the most brutal moments in the New Testament, Jesus ignores a woman with a sick kid and likens her to a dog. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” In other words, you are not one of my kind. As one person wrote, Jesus “shows us blindness to compassion, caused by adherence to racial and religious privilege. This is what culture does. We hear and see— we even preach— but we do not hear and we do not see, for the culture, not God, has told us what to see.”
Sharon Ringe says this is Jesus “caught with his compassion down”.
It is that and more. Even Jesus is not immune from male and cultural privilege. Even Jesus could not at all times cross the boundaries to which we are called as human beings.
“Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David”, we hear the cries of this poor woman…a woman in a time good for no woman…on the border of a place not her own, a non-believer.
She is a Canaanite…a descendent of those destroyed and removed from their homes when Joshua led the Jewish people into the Promised Land. She has no status; she is a woman with no home, no living roots, and no husband to protect her in a patriarchal world “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David.”
A poor, foreign woman, without cultural privilege
“Lord, Son of David, my daughter is tormented by a demon,”… and Jesus ignores her.
Throughout the Gospels Jesus immediately responds to anyone who asks for mercy or salvation or healing…or time…But not this time, on this occasion Jesus ignores her…
And the disciples chant that she should be sent away because she is loud.
But, she persisted…the Canaanite woman, to whom the text does not give a name doesn’t give up, “Lord, help me.”
Jesus says, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and feed it to the dogs.” (Pause)
His cultural location blinded him, stopped him from living out God’s call of radical love, of equity, of wholeness for all.
And the woman, after being called a dog, comes back, “Yes Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.”
We don’t know how much time went by in this exchange, but we do know something important. Jesus was wrong. But he didn’t stay there long. He didn’t carry on, because it would look bad to acknowledge the pain that was caused by his privilege and cultural blindness.
He shouts to the woman, in a way that is unique just to this text, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
This double outsider, with no status and no name invited Jesus to move, to change, to grow, to see wholeness beyond his cultural and religious group. Could it be that this woman taught the Teacher? The one who is hurting the most leads the way to healing. She teaches him.
Could it be that it wasn’t until this encounter with her that Jesus fully comprehended compassion? That he knew the importance of being wrong, of being moved, of changing course?
I believe that the sins and wrongs of our individual and collective history will continue to inform our present, unless we begin to acknowledge the truth, to see things as they were in our past and how that relates to our present. As people of faith and conscience, we can lead the way and hear the cries for healing, even when those in power demonstrate blindness to compassion, caused by adherence to racial and religious privilege.
Taking down statues might freak people out because it looks like it is simply destruction. But this week I wonder if what looks like destruction, might really be deconstruction. Deconstruction isn’t just tearing down; it’s seeing things as they are, the parts and how they relate to one another.
To deconstruct is not to destroy. “Deconstruction is always a double movement of simultaneous affirmation and undoing.”
Deconstruction: breaking it down into smaller parts.
Deconstruction: understanding how it was created,
Deconstruction: examining it in order to reveal its inadequacy
We are living in a moment that demands deconstructing.
The movement in this moment has forced a collective conversation about the history and current legacy and the sin of white supremacy. These Confederate statues all over this nation, point out without shame what we haven’t done. They point out with large size in public spaces that we don’t tell the whole story about how we came to be as a nation.
In the LA times Wendy Averill wrote, “If we really want to memorialize the Civil War, let’s have statues that show the truth, not generals mounted on magnificent horses. Let’s have bronze memorials that depict blacks standing at the auction block and being torn away from their families…”
We must say with our art and in our classrooms and with our shared public life that slavery was wrong. We must hear the cries and the hurt. We must strive to understand how this was all created, so we can understand where we are. We must deconstruct, which is not to destroy. It is to examine closely. It is an affirmation and an undoing. It is the importance of seeing where we have been blind and wrong.
This week I read a letter written by Warren and Jack Christian natives of Richmond, Virginia and also the great-great-grandsons of Stonewall Jackson.
They wrote, “As two of the closest living relatives to Stonewall, we are writing today to ask for the removal of his statue, as well as the removal of all Confederate statues from Monument Avenue. They are overt symbols of racism and white supremacy, and the time is long overdue for them to depart from public display…Ongoing racial disparities in incarceration, educational attainment, police brutality, hiring practices, access to health care, and, perhaps most starkly, wealth, make it clear that these monuments do not stand somehow outside of history. Racism and white supremacy, which undoubtedly continue today, are neither natural nor inevitable. Rather, they were created in order to justify the unjustifiable, in particular slavery.”
Beloved of God, America was wrong and we must not deny our sins. We are not changing history or culture, when we acknowledge how whiteness has blinded us. Removing the statues, having this conversation, knowing the truth of our history, it is not destruction, but deconstruction. We are doing what Jesus did. He saw that he was wrong, he was moved, and he changed. And so must we.
May it be so. Amen.
 Sharon Ringe in Letty Russell’s “Feminist Interpretation of the Bible”
 “Throughout the Gospel, Jesus immediately responds to anyone who cries out to him for mercy or salvation or healing. His initial silence toward the Canaanite woman is stunning” (Reid, 92).
 Taken from a letter entitled, “Dear Canaanite Sister,” written by Mary Hinkle
from the Igniting the Imagination of Jesus http://maryhinkle.typepad.com/pilgrim_preaching/2004/08/igniting_the_im.html