Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.— Albert Camus
Everywhere we look in our city, we encounter needs. The children of our city need better education. The impoverished in our city need more support. The marginalized people groups in our city need swift and consistent justice. The immigrants and refugees in our city need hospitality. These realities provoke many of us to anger or despair. And some of us rage at the cruel disdain we hear from those in positions of power. Yet, righteous as this indignation may be, we often fail to turn its barbs on ourselves. We, too, are people in positions of power who levy cruel disdain at the needy, maligning those from beyond our urban scope who possess different sorts of needs than we typically know or see. We are what we hate, the rightful objects of our righteous rage. But deliverance is close at hand, if only the zeal of our self-righteous crusading would push us toward meeting needs. It is there, in the kindness and generosity of attending those who hurt, that we will discover our own poverty. In fact, it is in the blooming of generosity, not rage, that we discover we belong among the most needy of all. This is our rescue, to bleed.
FULL TRANSCRIPT OF SERMON
The Generous Will Bleed
A sermon delivered by Pastor Mark Bergin at The Painted Door Church in Chicago
What a month this November is shaping up to be. Anybody else feeling emotionally exhausted? It seems like we've done enough gut-wrenching, score-watching for a lifetime. Between the World Series and the election, and the results of both, at least from my perspective, they were rather surprising. And now, here we are. The Cubs are world champions. And Mr. Trump is president-elect and nothing really makes sense anymore, does it? It's as though the whole world's been turned upside down. Lovable Losers, now an emerging Dynasty it seems, and all of the familiar kind of political party lines of the last century are now bent and twisted into new shapes, perhaps irrevocably.
It's a very different world. It feels rather suddenly like a whole new order has been ushered in, and in a very short period of time. And I have no doubt that there are some among our number who are anxious about this new landscape, even fearful about what this new landscape might bring with it. Surely, there are also some among us who are hopeful, who are optimistic that perhaps these changes will shake loose some of the entrenched brokenness in our political system. But either way, emotions are charged and there is great potential in this moment for divisiveness. Great potential for us to find ourselves at odds with one another, even here among our number, and definitely throughout our nation.
So what I want to do today is look to the Psalms, as we have been looking to the Psalms, and seek to map some of those anxieties, some of those fears, some of those hopes, onto the Prayer-Book of the Psalms in hopes that we might find some unifying force there. Something that would tamp down on our rushing to political ideologies that would divide us. Something that would call us back to what is our true identity in Christ, our true identity in the love of Christ, and life together in that love. Now it just so happens that our preaching calendar has us looking at Psalm 49 today. And there could hardly be a more appropriate Psalm to read for this particular moment than this one.
Listen to these early lines in this Psalm verses 5 through 9 of Psalm 49:
Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and