Barber: 'The only way to ensure domestic tranquility is to establish justice'
Rev. William Barber II, known for his work on behalf of the poor, former leader of the North Carolina NAACP and pastor at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, will deliver the sermon at an interfaith worship service to celebrate the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Lord, please help us hold us and harness us for your purposes and for your glory. Amen. Our text this morning comes from the Prophet Isaiah. Chapter 58 it begins. This is the kind of fast day I'm after to break the chains of injustice. Get rid of exploitation in the workplace. Free the oppressed, canceled debts. What I'm interested in is seeing you do is I want you to share your food with the hungry. Invite the poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill class and it ends saying, if you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims. Quit gossiping about other people's sins. If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down and out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness. You will use the old rubble of past lives to build a new rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as repairers of the breach. Those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate make the community livable again. The text this morning is from the Prophet Isaiah, but the profit being able to see the future may have taken his text from the old chitlin circuit comment Moms Mabley, who used to tell what one Strawberry said to the other Strawberry, If we hadn't been in that bed together, we wouldn't be in this jam today where we're in a jam today. Trouble is riel, and whether we like it or not, we are in this mess together as a nation. When this word of the Lord came toe Isaiah Hiss, people were also in a jam. Bad leadership, greed and injustice and lies had led them into trouble, exile and economic hardship. In that day, some try to simply cover up the trouble with false religion and deceit. But God said to the prophet sound the trumpet. Tell the nation of its sin. Tell them that just going through the motions of prayer will not get them out of this jam. I need them to repent off what got them here and turn in a new direction. The prophet was saying what Jesus would say about nations caring for the least of these. The prophet was saying then what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in the 19 thirties to in America, with one third of the nation ill housed, ill clad and ill nourished, besieged by the Great Depression and beset by bigotry and hatred at such a time as this, FDR said, the rest of our progress is not whether we ADM or two the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. Isaiah was saying what Dr King said to America When we face the jam in the 19 sixties. The time has come for an all out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast re sources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped school, the unschooled and feed the unfair. Ultimately, ah, great nation is a compassionate nation. The profits basic question to the leadership of his day was the question the economist Joseph Stiglitz has asked. Not how much will it cost the government to address inequality? But how much has it cost us not to? It is the truth Aretha Franklin pointed to when she sang Holy, holy, come together. We've got to come together. We can rock this Earth Foundation. Holla, love. Across the nation, we proclaim love our salvation. Yes, we can. And so the profit gives the nation God's clear guidance out of the jam it is in choose first to repent of the policy sin and then repair the breach. The breach, according to the imagery of Isaiah, is when there is a gap in the nation between what is and how God wants things to be transposed. Tow our time. The breach is when we say one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all with our lips, while we see the rich and the poor living in two very different Americas, the breach would be knowing The only way to ensure domestic tranquility is to establish justice. It is pretending that we can address the nation's wounds with simplistic calls for unity. That is not how we can close the breach. The breach is telling lives when we need truth, greed, when we need compassion fighting one another when we need to find common ground and hating when we ought to be loving and every now and then a nation needs breach re parents to take us forward. Mr. President, you have known the breach of economic struggle in your childhood and the breach of a broken heart. Madam Vice President, you have known the political and social breach caused by racism that tried to place a breach between the intelligence you had and the school you could attend your mother fault and organized because she knew this nation's breach. And both of you know that the only way forward is for the breaches to be repaired. This moment in our union is not about left and right or centrist. It should not be about Republicans and Democrats. Even what we saw happen at the Capitol two weeks ago is the result of a long history ah, politics of division that was cynically named positive polarization by those who thought they could use it for their own political advantage. This strategy of feeding and seeding intentional racial class division into the body politics spilled over into the inevitable violence that ideas of supremacy always produced. If we want to come out of this jam and move forward together, we cannot accept the racial disparities and racial violence and breaches that impact black, brown, native and Asian Americans while offering collateral damage to our poor white brothers and sisters and ultimately our entire democracy. We can't accept the poverty and low wealth off 140 million Americans before Cove it and many more million sense we must have a third reconstruction. We must address the five interlocking injustices off systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, denial of health care, the war economy and the false, distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. These are breaches that must be addressed, and according to the text, repairing the breaches will bring revival. If you get rid of unfair practices, the prophet says, if you are generous with the hungry, if you start giving yourselves to the down and out, then you will be known as repairers of the breach. Those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate and make the community livable again. If we make the choice, there is hope in the morning. M o u R n I N G Juergen Motoman once said, faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest, not patients, but impatience. Those who hope in God can no longer put up with reality as it is, but began to suffer under it to contradict him. We don't have to put up with things as they are. We can contradict the breach with every prayer, every policy, every sermon from every pulpit and every call to the people. If we the people with God's help, repair the breach, revival and renewal will come. Weeping and mourning may endure in this night of our discontent. But joy will come in the morning. Love and light will burst through. God will hear our prayers if we do the work of repairing societies. Breach. No. America has never yet been all that she has hoped to be. But right here and right now, a third reconstruction is possible if we choose. So let us ask God again What? That great preacher and him. Writer Harry Emerson Foz Dick asked in the midst of the Great Depression, when the nation was in a jam and needed some breach repairs, he wrote and sang and prayed, God of Grace and God of glory on thy people. Pour thy power. Cure thy Children's warring madness. Bend our pride to die control. Shame are wanton, selfish, gladness, rich in things and poor and soul save us from week resignation to the evils we deplore. Let the search for thy salvation be our glory evermore or car grant. US wisdom and grant us courage for the facing of this hour for the facing of this hour. Yes, God grant us wisdom and grant us courage until thoughts of destroying one another give way to deeds of embracing each other until our policies prove our promise off equal justice under law. Until we decide to many have been hurting too long. Grant us grant us courage until in every way we show in our democratic process that everybody has a right to live until we lift from the bottom so that everybody rises until the stones that the builders rejected become the chief cornerstones off a new social reality. Please God grant us wisdom. Grant us courage for the facing of this hour until together we make sure the poor are lifted, the sick or he'll Children are protected. Civil rights and human rights are never neglected. Grant us wisdom and courage for the facing of this hour until love and justice are never rejected. Grant us wisdom and courage for the facing of this hour until together we make sure their ears racial justice and economic justice and living wage, justice and healthcare. Justice and ecological justice and disability, justice and justice for homeless and justice for the poor and low wealth and working poor, an immigrant justice. Until we study war no more and peace and justice are the way we live. This is the only path to domestic tranquility and healing. So gracious and great God grant us as a people grant us as an entire nation. Grant our new president. Grant our new vice president. Grant every preacher grant every politician grant every person black and white, Latino, native, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu A person of faith. People not of faith but with the moral conscience. Grant every human being created by God, documented or undocumented. Gay, straight or trans younger. Oh, and what a day it will be when our Children's Children call us what you have called us to be. Repair us off the breach. A man