A parable on Matthew 18:21-35. Let all who have ears listen well:
The kingdom of God may be compared to the United Nations, which called the United States to account for its systemic and unrelenting racism. In response the United States — from its politicians to its CEOs, from its prison industries to its defense industries — fell to its knees in contrition. “Have patience with us. We’re improving incrementally, we promise. Please don’t take away our global prestige or our military conquests or our easy avenues to wealth for the already-wealthy or our superiority complex.”
The United Nations relented, saying, “Thank you for being such a team player.”
Then the United States left its meeting with the UN, going directly to its citizens of color. “How dare you make us look bad in front of the UN and the world?! We almost lost our self-image as Generous American Savior. Now repay us for the cost of this near-disgrace.” But the people of color cried out: “You have already built this nation on our blood. What more can we give?”
But the United States replied, “Your protests deface our self-image, therefore we will hide you so that we do not have to see you as us: behind prison walls and stereotypes, in war zones and ill-equipped schools. And we will shield our own eyes with gated communities and open carry privileges and Euro-centric myths of beauty.”
When the UN heard this, its anger boiled over. It summoned the United States and said, “You wicked, deceitful nation! You promised compassion and justice, but you have acted out of self-interest. Now then your corporations will be sold for pennies and your laws will be overturned, to be rebuilt and rewritten by those you have tormented for so long. And you will be cast out and ridiculed, left to gnaw on your ego.”
A parable on Exodus 14:19-31. Let all who have hearts be converted:
It came to pass that the White American Church looked around itself, looked within itself, looked under pews and over steeples, and noticed that God was nowhere to be found. Stung by this absence, the White Church began looking for God.
The White Church applied its best resources to the search. It poured its endowments and its political goodwill into the effort, purchasing many curricula, holding many forums, and surveying the community.
Finally, the White church drove long and hard into the wilderness, and there at last in the distance, it saw God: glorious and awe-inspiring, pillared high as a cloud, blazing brightly as a fire. “At last, O God!” said the White Church. “We found you! What are you doing here? Did you draw us here to show us a good cause? Are you calling us to war against the infidel? Are you calling us to help the black and brown children of the world? Who can we save here in the wilderness? Is that them, on the other side of the cloud?”
The plume of God stretched high and the fire of God flickered dangerously. “You will leave these people alone. Where I taking them, you may not follow, for I will not hesitate to make your way difficult, to overtake you and flood you, to twist you about and send you running home.
“You cannot come with me unless you dare to become a refugee, unless you are prepared to wander without security for generations, unless you are willing to be hungry and thirsty, unless you would finally put your life in the hands of those you’ve cast out for generations.”
And the White Church turned back to Egypt sadly, because it would not do these things.
The Exodus 14:19-31 and Matthew 18:21-35 readings are part of the Revised Common Lectionary for this coming Sunday, September 14.