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NSCS Induction Speech

A speech given by Professor Robert W. Lee, IV at Appalachian State University on October 19, 2019

Watch the TED Talk I was introduced with here.

Nine years. Nine years is a lifetime in these parts, but nine years ago this week I did something that you all here at the National Society of Collegiate Scholars would never do: I skipped class in high school with a friend. I did it because I honestly thought like the video we just watched stated that I would still have that person here in my life today. I thought our futures would be endless as the sunny day that we experienced in our self-made extra-curricular. Like the video we watched I was sure she would still be here. She even had an AppState hoodie so I figured we’d go to college together. I was convinced she
would still be around. She is not.

Abbey died nine years ago this coming Halloween, and frankly my grief has not been good to me. There have been times that I have cried out to friends and to God who seem to have forgotten her. I cry out wondering why that car accident had to happen, or what I could have done to prevent it. People seem to be forgetting her nine years hence so I wanted to at least to remember her in this space. Now you may be wondering what in the world this has to do with your induction into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. For the longest time I debated challenging you to new academic heights, to get a higher GPA, or impress that one professor that always seems to give bad grades. But today I want to remind you of the importance of being human, the importance of skipping class, the importance of failing. Now before Haylee or your advisor comes an takes the microphone from me let me say that it is in our worst failures that we find our greatest successes.It is in our service whether inside or dare I say outside the class that gives us our reason to push forward when hope seems lost.

You see I’m a scholar of communication and religion and St. Irenaeus once said, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” You are born to shine, and if that takes skipping a class or a meeting to go eat bad sushi with friends then that might be worth your time.

Here’s the catch: you are here to be fully alive and fully engaged. You are here to be people who realize that this chance and opportunity to be a part of this organization and this University are things not afforded to everybody. We are people who are most lucky to be attending or have attended Appalachian State University. We are the lucky ones who fuddled our way through life to this point. So now is your time to pick up the mantle of leadership at this great university. Now is the time to stop being so damn caught up in everything that you forget to enjoy the football game tomorrow and then remember you have an assignment due on Sunday evening.

These truly are some of the coolest years of your life, you have immense opportunity. But I don’t want to say they are the best years of your life. Only you can determine when those are. Or as Andy from the Office says, “I wish I knew they were the good ole days when I was going through them.”andy-bernard-a0b70637-616a-4340-a417-9cd7cabb884-resize-750

Don’t let your good ole days pass you by. Don’t let your reward for being here be a piece of paper. Make friends in this society and beyond, make friends who don’t think like you, make friends who don’t believe like you, make friends who will challenge yet accept you for who you were created to be.

Don’t let the good ole days pass you by. When you’re 21, go and enjoy the PBR at Boone Saloon, when you’re down on your luck, go watch a sunset at Price Lake. These are the moments that make the Appalachian experience truly remarkable. These are the moments that you will tell your children, and your children’s children about. It is this very moment when you are inducted into the honor society that you will remember for a lifetime.

So look around and see your friends surrounding you. Look around and see the new faces you might not know yet. Seriously, do it. It’s worth noting that you are the lucky people who made it here and are succeeding. So don’t ever take it for granted and don’t image2ever miss an opportunity to share your experience about Appalachian with others. I have won accolades in my life, I have a master’s degree from Duke University, I have mingled with all kinds of cool people, but the thing I am most proud of is that my Bachelor of Arts is from this place—that I met my wife at this place—that we named our dog after Frank Hall on West Campus.

These are the moments you will remember so take heart and remember your humanity. Remember that the greatest sin you could commit these four years is to not be fully alive. You don’t want to regret these years of your life, so live them and be human. For in our humanity, we find that we are indeed limitless even if life is over. That’s why tonight I’m dedicating this award to my late friend Abbey Tsumas, gone but not forgotten. Nine years ago she died, but today she lives on in my memory and in this award.

Dear students you don’t know what could happen tomorrow, so I implore
you to be the best human you can possibly be. Live within the confines of life but know that you can break the mold at any turn to be better. You are people who are a part of a community that is remarkably special, so don’t ever take that for granted.
Thank you.

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Standing in the Gap: Tell Your Story

Stand in the Gap

Author’s note: Morgan gave me permission to share this story with you all. I hope you find it meaningful.

“How can I pray for you?”

Seems pretty innocuous right? How could that lead me down a road I’d never imagine?

I put those few words into a tweet and sent them out meaning no real harm and hoping I could help someone. That’s when Morgan reached out to me and asked if we could have a private conversation about how I could pray for him. This was the message I received:

Hello Rob!

Perhaps it’s most helpful if I give you a quick background: I was diagnosed with Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumors (DSRCT) in 2014, right after I turned 23 and just a few months out of college. It’s a rare, incurable kind of soft-tissue sarcoma that’s classified as a pediatric cancer. I’ve had all the treatments: chemo, radiation, surgeries, and I’m currently on my 4th clinical trial.

I wrote a book that I finished early in 2017 that I’ve been seeking a publisher/agent for since then, no luck yet. The book is part retelling my cancer treatment, part reflections on relevant theological issues relating to it. If you’re interested my pinned tweet should be a link to an excerpt from the manuscript that ran in Notre Dame Magazine this summer.

Nonfiction seems like a tough one to get into without an established platform, and my full-time treatment makes that hard. I appreciate whatever advice you might have to offer.

And thank you for your original tweet! I didn’t realize how much I needed some prayers today until I saw it. Thanks.

I read that message and my heart broke. But I received it right before I was heading to bed. I’ll handle it in the morning I thought.

As twitter conversations often do this one fell by the wayside. This was my fault entirely. I forgot to respond. A few weeks passed and then this message came through:

Hi Rob,

Just wondering if you had any advice about publishing or possible contacts to try in the publishing world.

Yesterday I got a very bad PET scan with a lot of new growth, especially in my liver. I know it’s unrealistic at this point to hope for much since I’m not exactly famous enough for posthumous publication, but I also know I’ll regret if I don’t pursue any and every lead in the time I have left. Thanks for any help you can offer,

-Morgan

Crap. I dropped the ball big time. But I was determined to remedy what I could, I tweeted, I prayed, I reached out to my contacts. I emailed my friend and first publisher Keith Gammons at Smyth and Helwys. Keith gave me his word he’d look at the manuscript and would get back to us.

On Friday I received this message from Morgan:

Hi, I just wanted to let you know that Smyth and Helwys extended an offer of publication which I am accepting! Thank you so much for putting us in touch. I really, really appreciate it. So much. Thank you.

I tell you this story not to brag, I clearly dropped the ball. But I want to translate this into a theological key. God is all about redeeming the years (to borrow from the prophet Joel). I can’t take away Morgan’s cancer, I can’t fix that. Nor do I have the answers that can explain why a God would allow such tragedy. But I can unequivocally say that I will carry Morgan’s message forward with me, I will carry the message that a God who is engaged in the world is engaged in love.

A God who is engaged and submerged in the darkness of this world will never let the message of love die even if we do. So this is our message, this is our standard and where we lay our claim. May we be bold to pick up where others leave off, and may we stand in the gap for those who need the love of God and a chance to tell their story. This is a solemn duty and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. We are made to tell the story of love. We are made to restore what locust has eaten away. Because in so doing we find the heart of God.

6 Years Ago… Today.

I am more than a statistic…

I’m walking through Charlotte-Douglas Airport on my way to my flight to Chicago… it hits me like a freight train… shit… what’s today’s date? September 27th… oh no… this isn’t good… I’m by myself… in an airport… at 4:45 in the morning.

Any other time this wouldn’t phase me. I love empty airports. But today is a day I don’t want to spend alone. On this day, six years ago, I attempted suicide.

I was home from Appalachian State as a sophomore and having a horrible day. My mom has taken me to her work worried I was a danger to myself, and her instincts weren’t wrong. I didn’t want to live, ok maybe not that but I wanted it all to stop. I wanted peace, I wanted balance. I knew I could bring that about with a bottle of pills. So I took what I had and started reading JK Rowling’s newest book, A Casual Vacancy.

I was ready to go into the gentle goodnight and answer to whatever god was dumb enough to put me on earth in the first place. But that’s when God showed up, and embraced me and said, “Child what the hell are you doing?”

I immediately got help and found my confirmation mentor in my mom’s office, Bertha Hamilton. I handed her the bottle of pills and told her what I had done. In a moment of sheer terror she looked on me and loved me. She told me it would be ok and we would get help. We went to the emergency room with Bertha and my mom not leaving my side, my dad rushing to see me. I can’t help but think he was re-living losing his own brother to suicide some years before. But this, by the grace of God would be different.

They pumped my stomach and sent me on an insurance-expense paid vacation to Frye Regional Medical Center where I was locked away in the South Unit. I don’t remember much, just knowing that I was a horrific excuse for a human being. I knew that I had failed at the mental health game and I had failed my parents. But through it all, God was there.

I come from the Mainline Protestant Tradition where dreams and visions are easily explained away. But I remember dreaming for the first time in what seemed like forever. I dreamed of my uncle, John, and my late friend Abbey both assuring me that I was worth more than I could see in the moment. It may have been the medicine, I hope it was divine intervention.

I tell you this story not for pity. I’ve left that behind. I tell you this story because I trust that “we are more than conquerors” to borrow from the New Testament.

Deeper than that, I’m here at this airport, alone, not because I’m a failure, but because I’m pursuing a PhD in Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary. I am wearing the pullover that was given to me when I preached at Harvard’s Memorial Church, at age 25… Something none of my peers have done. I’ve finished two books since then and started a third one. I am a survivor– No, I am a thriving child of God. I am someone who has stared death in the face and lived to tell the tale.

Had you told me six years ago this is where I would be I would have laughed in your face. But God is bigger than six years of pain and triumph. God is bigger than suicides both attempted and completed. God is a big tent God. I am loved by my wife and family. I am loved by my poodle and my friends. I am loved by my students and colleagues, and I’m afraid you can’t convince me otherwise.

So this year, on the anniversary of my attempted suicide, I am going to a Cubs game to celebrate. I’m going to meet with my PhD committee and I am going to succeed. Because I have that love that goes with me even in an empty airport.

I am more than a survivor or a statistic, I am beloved.

Discerning Vocation: The Rob Lee Edition

The United Methodist Church is a lot like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, any secret trying to be kept will most undoubtedly get out and be amongst friends and colleagues before I have a chance to share with those I love most. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) So when I get a text from a pastor friend asking about my transfer paperwork, I know it’s time to let you in on what’s happening in my life.

I have submitted a request to the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church for a transfer of credentials as an ordained clergy person from another denomination. I received word from the Assistant to the Bishop, the Rev. Amy Coles that my paperwork has been received by my district.

I know this may come as a huge surprise to you betting folk who thought I’d end up a priest in the Episcopal Church. My love of liturgy has not changed. But my conviction that the Wesleyan way is the way for me is more solid than ever. There is something so convincing about the Wesleyan Movement that those who know me best (looking at you Nathan Kirkpatrick+) convinced me that this was a move worth exploring with the Board of Ordained Ministry. I’d like to thank my current pastor, Dr. Mary John Dye for her kindness, and my church, Broad Street UMC for their support all these years.

Nothing has been set in stone appointment-wise, and I will continue my work at Appalachian State on faculty for the foreseeable future. In January I hope to meet with the transfer/executive committee to prepare for this shift, and I ask for your prayers in that regard. Again, this is a brewing potion (See the above Harry Potter reference) that will take time.

May God, who inspired John and Charles a long time ago continue to inspire the people called Methodists. Thanks be to God. — The Reverend Robert W. Lee, IV

A Funeral Rite for a Pet

Funerals Are Important

The Opening Collect

Grant almighty God that through the wisdom of the ages and our present condition we might see the importance of your created order. You made the stars of night and threw them in their courses. You enabled the magnificent rhino to have a horn and the majestic whale to breathe in its course. May we your people be mindful of the course of our lives intertwined with your creatures great and small. Amen.

A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans (8:18-21)

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. Luke:

“Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, Lord Christ.

Reflection on Pets:

I have always questioned anyone who doesn’t believe that animals and the entirety of Creation are not part of God’s plan for redemption. To do such requires a lack of imagination and realism that God who created the polar bear and the poodle wouldn’t want to bring them near when God’s reign is made known.

Today we hear from Luke’s account of the road to Emmaus, a place of geographical uncertainty in today’s time. I don’t know about you but I am thankful that animals saddled up beside me as Jesus did with Cleopas (the character in scripture not my guinea pig). For in this saddling beside us Jesus understands our grief and opens the scriptures to us in that period of mourning.

Moreover I wonder if you like me have found the empathy of animals. How they come near to you when you can’t seem to make sense of things, how they love you when you are weary and bruised to the bone.

It is this very reality that convinces me that if we are to be raised from the dead than the whole of Creation will be as well. For animals are a taste of Eden’s glory and our future reality.

This hope gives me strength to lay to rest my pet. This strength gives me purpose to move forward and love more deeply.

Amen.

The Prayer of Committal

God of the sparrow and God of the whale,

We commend to your gracious love the spirit of our beloved pet N. For you, in your infinite love gave us these creatures as exemplars of joy, and harbingers of peace and tranquility. Their empathy exceeds the limits of our own, so grant that we your people may learn from them and find them in our company on the last day. Amen.

A Blessing

Life is short, and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those who journey with us, so be swift to love and make haste to be kind. And the blessing of God almighty, the Creator, the Redeemer, and Sustainer be with you and remain with you always. Amen.

What’s in a Name? A Eucharistic Reflection

The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.

I have celebrated the Eucharist countless times in a myriad of parishes across this country, but nothing could prepare me for the conundrum I found myself in with Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. You see they have a rather famous Sunday School teacher there, a former president named Jimmy Carter. For many, President Carter represents the best of political values and a storied post-presidency. Even though he was vilified during his one term in office, I find it amazing that the man accomplished so much in one term and remains a humble human being in spite of being “in the spotlight.”

Being raised as a presidential history buff I remember learning about Carter, so to meet him was remarkable and a blessing—but that wasn’t the conundrum I faced. I have met some pretty amazing people in my lifetime, but I haven’t been the celebrant at a table with the former President of the United States of America in the congregation. I was left with a question: What do you say when he comes to the table?

Now for many this may seem like a silly question, but I like to call people by their first name when I serve them the body and blood of our Lord if I know what it is. That being said my mom and dad raised me right to remember that if you’re in the room with someone like President Carter, you refer to him as I just did or with a respectful “Mr. President” when he is talking to you. Even when my parents come up to the altar I call them by their given names, “Rusty, this is the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.” Still this felt a little different.

So, when President Carter came up to me I had a choice to make, who is he in the eyes of God and the hope of the Eucharistic feast we are partaking of? If the Lord of time and space was present he would call President Carter by his given name, and I’m sure President Carter would respond in kind.

I took a deep breath, he came up to me and I said with as much gusto as I could muster, “Jimmy, this is the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.” He looked at me, smiled, and said “Thanks be to God.”

After the service the former president came up to me and told me that he appreciated that I called him by name, and that I had preached without fear of his presence in the room. (Little did he know I was an anxious wreck.) Stephanie and I had dinner with him and found him and his wife Rosalyn to be some of the humblest people we have ever encountered. It wasn’t a competition for the president on who had the most accolades, or who had the most experience. He would clearly win in that arena. It was an inquisitive human being asking me about reading Reinhold Niebuhr, about my experiences at Duke with Stanley Hauerwas, and other theologians he had read.

The point I’m reporting back is that we need more of this. We don’t need the opulence of millionaires running our country—a peanut farmer from the middle of nowhere Georgia did us well, and we would be remiss to forget his legacy.

In one of his newer books, titled “Faith: A Journey for All” President Carter writes, “To me, Jesus Christ is not an object to be worshipped but a person and constant companion. I pray in is name to the Father, and I seek through him to understand our present world and to better comprehend my own duties and responsibilities in dealing with daily life. I have no doubt that Jesus is living now, not simply that once upon a time Jesus existed. I look on him as the epitome of love, of all that is good.”

May that love embrace us, call us by name and bring us to that table with the saints of glory. Thanks be to God for this experience. It is one I will never forget.image2

Sermon: The First Anniversary of Charlottesville

Charlottesville. Charlottesville. Charlottesville.

The 12th Sunday after Pentecost

August 12th, 2018

Grace The Plains Episcopal Church

The Plains, Virginia

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

John 6:35, 41-51

May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

I love my wife Stephanie, and one of our more recent hobbies has been to fall asleep listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on our Google Home. Audiobooks are best when read in a British accent. As we neared the book’s completion one night (which we’re still not done because Stephanie falls asleep and we have to start over) I was taken aback by a particular line I hadn’t read since grade-school. After the great fight between Lord Voldemort, the antagonist who took the form of a professor, Harry, the orphan, lightening scarred protagonist asks the headmaster Professor Dumbledore why Voldemort couldn’t touch Harry Potter. Dumbledore replies, “Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin… It was agony for [Voldemort] to touch a person marked by something so good.” Hold onto that as we move throughout today’s sermon, we’ll get back to it.

With events in history, you don’t really recognize its significance until you reflect and remember the circumstances of such an event. August 12th 0f 2017 started out like a day for me that I could get excited about. I was officiating the wedding of two dear friends, Marcus and Taylor. I arrived at the venue early, put my stole and robes on, and sat with Marcus and his groomsmen and listened to them tell stories. That’s when the news flashed across the screen of my phone: “Charlottesville, Charlottesville, Charlottesville” I knew I had a wedding to do, I knew I had a job to perform, this couple were close friends and deserved my full attention. Whatever was happening in Charlottesville would have to wait until after the ceremony.

If you’re like any good American, you remember where you were when Kennedy was shot, when Martin King was assassinated, when the Challenger exploded, when the Twin Towers came crashing down, when the stock market recessed, when Dylan Roof shot 9 black worshipper at Emanuel AME, and dare I say—we all remember when Charlottesville happened. These events are engrained in our memories as much as they are into the fabric of our collective nature. We cannot undo these horrors, but we can remember, we can reflect, we can recollect, and we can risk the horrific nature of these events for a better tomorrow.

Today we hear words from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and John’s Gospel. Now if you’re like me you find Paul problematic sometimes, but I found the words to the church at Ephesus particularly striking in light of today’s anniversary. Paul writes, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” Paul continues later in the 5th chapter that we heard in our hearing, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Recently I was having dinner with another pastor and this particular pastor doesn’t agree with how I handle things from the pulpit. This pastor said that I should be more principled and less partisan, less ready to engage in the politics of today to protect my reputation. Well that pastor is wrong. We need Christians willing to be engaged in the politic of today.

Now before you get up and leave, hear me out. I’m not endorsing a candidate for political office, I’m not saying you should have voted for Hillary or Trump, what I am saying is that to shy away from the fact that a rally of hate is happening one hour from here in Washington DC is to neglect the very good news and Gospel of Jesus Christ. You see we have this image of Jesus in a bubble. He’s super white, he has flowing brown hair, and he’s standing at the door waiting for you to open it for him. But I came by today to say that particular Jesus is an image created in the name of an American god. One that values the 2nd amendment over children’s lives. One that values oil production and transport of that oil over the care of our climate. One that values white lives and all lives over black life itself.

Jesus was inherently political. The bread you take, the wine you drink is the body and blood of a person who died as an enemy of an Empire, at the hands of capital punishment for the sake of his crimes against said government. Jesus cared about children, about life, about beauty, he was a Palestinian Jew who wondered if life could be better if love was more triumphant than an empire. Empires fall, love does not. Charlottesville happens, but the response of love can be resounding over the hatred of white supremacy and zealous nationalism.

Now I can hear it your head that love is nice, but it doesn’t work against members of the Klan. But let me sync our definitions of love for the sake of today and the significance that it holds. Love is not flowery, it is not a romantic romp through a field of flowers. If you’re anything like me the things and people I love most in this world are people who love me back enough to call me out on where I fall short, to love me back enough to challenge me, to love me back enough to know when to embrace and when to refrain from embracing to borrow from Ecclesiastes.

You see that type of love can change the world. That type of love is found in John’s Gospel as we see that the bread of life is both then and there and here and now. Love personified for we of the Christian faith, made whole in the oneness of the Eucharist. That type of love, can leave a mark. Ahh, Church, do you see where I am going with this? You see in the past year I’ve met Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, who died last year in Charlottesville. And from what Susan has told me of Heather, Heather was an incredible lady trying to make a difference in this world, and though evil took her and countless others in our march toward equity and justice it was agony for evil, and evil will not win the war.

Let me, if you will, re-write the Harry Potter line for today’s anniversary of Charlottesville:

“Christ died to save you. If there is one thing evil in this world cannot understand, it is love. Evil didn’t realize that love as powerful as Christ’s leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone from sight, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin… It was agony for evil to touch a person marked by something so good.”

“Though the world seems oft so wrong, God is the ruler yet” the old hymn goes. Though we are here feebly struggling, Heather, Martin, Malcolm, those affected by white supremacy through the ages are free from their bonds and their oppression in a land across the Jordan. So now, we must make heaven come to earth. We must bring the Kingdom and reign of God to this place and this plain for the sake of our future. Because the world is literally on fire and we need a God who can fix this mess, and by God we are all that’s left to help make that kingdom realized.

When I was at the Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation in High School, Dr. Stanley Hauerwas, a famed theologian taught me about realized eschatology. It would take me going to seminary to understand what he meant. He meant that we are the people, the very hands and feet that help bring about God’s reign here on earth. We are the people, we are the change, we are the voices that stand up to the bullies and evil of Charlottesville because we have something they don’t: love. They will know we are Christians by our love. Let that love leave its mark like it did with Harry Potter, let that love die to save you. Let that love be consumed in Holy Communion and sent out into the world that Christ died to save.

Thanks be to God, Amen.