August 25, 2019

Building a Temple for the Chosen People
Pentecost 11,
Year C
Becky Robbins-Penniman

For at least 10,000 years we’ve been dividing ourselves into armed camps, absolutely certain that we are right, they are wrong, and we must vanquish them. As we do this, we tell ourselves a story about OUR kind: WE are THE chosen ones, THE chosen people, THE chosen race, THE elect, THE select, THE beloved of God. We can’t all be right. God has selected ONE group to be the best, and that group should win, should call the shots. Right?

Not so fast, says Steven Charleston, a retired bishop of the Episcopal Church, an elder in the Choctaw Nation, and one thoroughly provocative man. We all know, says the bishop, that the Israelite’s sacred narrative includes God’s assurance that they are a chosen nation. [Exodus 19:6]. The bishop assumes, however, that most of us don’t know that the Choctaw Nation’s sacred story has a very similar covenant narrative where God assures them that they are God’s chosen people.

What if, Bishop Charleston queries, every group is right: they are chosen people.

Of course they are. All are made in God’s image, God is present and active not only in all people, but in all places, creatures, planets, and indeed the whole universe: of all that is, seen and unseen. All people are chosen people, and God has chosen each person for some purpose. Not all of groups of chosen people have the exact same purpose, just as not all individuals have the exact same purpose. But all groups of chosen people were created for one goal, and it is not to bring all the other groups into submission under OUR group’s feet.

The one goal is to bring the Reign of God near to our neighbors and also to ourselves…

Read the full sermon text HERE.