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This Labor Day, I Want a Union

I have been working this past year on an effort to encourage people to say the words “labor union” (without epithet) at their place of worship the weekend before Labor Day.  My favorite encounter came this summer.  I was at a worker justice rally in downtown Raleigh one Monday, handing out snappy fliers with a picture of an apple pie.  The flier read “Labor Day is as American as apple pie.  So are labor unions!”  I spotted a labor trailblazer in a group of people, so I waited politely for my turn to talk to him.  I flashed my smile and pulled out a flier, with flourish.  He looked at it and said, without a blink, “Do you have a union?”  “No,” I answered back.  “Why not?” he asked.  Huh. Read more

[Kara Slade] Surely Kin to Me (?)

In May 1970, a 23-year-old black Vietnam veteran, Henry Marrow, was killed in Oxford, NC.  The circumstances of his death, and the subsequent acquittal of his accused killers by an all-white jury, touched off riots and arson in Oxford, including the firebombing of a tobacco warehouse that sat almost across the street from where this sermon was preached.  I (Kara Slade) wrote it with one eye toward the events in Ferguson, MO, and the other towards the history of the community in which I hoped to bring a word of confession, conviction, and hope.  The following sermon, delivered on August 17, 2014 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Oxford and based on the RCL New Testament texts for the day [Matthew 15:10-28 and Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32], is the result.

In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.

Join hands, then, members of the faith,
Whatever your race may be!
Who serves my Father as His child
Is surely kin to me.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I’d like to begin this morning by noting that there are some sermons that I’m excited to preach, some words that I can’t wait to get up here in the pulpit and share with you. This sermon is not that. To be honest with you, I’m terrified this morning. I’m terrified because the word that the Holy Spirit gave me to give to you is one that might touch on some painful things. But just as a surgeon causes pain in the process of healing an illness, sometimes the proclamation of Word of God can be the same way. All I know is, what I can’t do is ignore those painful places and hope that they go away on their own – because they very obviously won’t. I can’t get up here and pretend that what happened this week didn’t happen, and that what has happened in the past in our own community never happened either. Read more

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