Black lives matter.
I assume some of you right now are thinking of bolting for the door.
But please give me some grace here, and listen to the rest of the sermon.
We have been told that the tag line black lives matter is offensive because “all lives matter”.
I think this is a false choice.
Black lives matter because all lives matter.
All live matter because black lives matter.
In order for all lives to matter the group that it is least important, on the outside, the minority of group.
The most repressed of groups has to matter.
This morning’s Gospel is a good example.
Jesus encounters a Canaanite woman.
Just so you know Canaanites are looked down upon by good God fearing Jews.
Interesting enough Jews of Jesus were themselves an oppressed group.
Jews were held back by the Romans who occupied their land, who collected their taxes, and who sometimes would interfere in their religion.
So a group that is looked down upon looks down on another.
We often focus on Jesus words to the women.
He insults her.
That is upsetting to us because it flies in the face of what we think of Jesus.
(This is not a sermon about that.)
I mention it because for the people reading Matthew’s Gospel in the first century that wouldn’t have been a surprise.
Lots of people talked to each other the way that Jesus talks to this woman.
What was surprising was that Jesus says that this woman had faith.
That was in possible.
Canaanite woman do not know the God of Israel.
They don’t know what God has done and has promised.
This woman doesn’t matter because she can’t comprehend God’s graciousness the way a Jewish person could.
She wasn’t Promised Land and a people by the God of the universe, she wasn’t rescued from slavery, and she wasn’t brought to the Promised Land.
She didn’t know the things that Jews knew.
How could she have faith in God?
Amazingly what she knew was the truth that was forgotten by God’s people.
This is the same truth that we often forget.
God cares about everyone.
In caring for everyone he cares for this Canaanite woman.
If it were not true that we could not make the claim that “all lives matter”.
This truth runs through Matthew’s Gospel.
It is always the gentiles who proclaim faith in Jesus as the messiah.
It was true in the lineage of Jesus, which includes Ruth who was a foreign Moabite.
It was true Jesus’ birth with the Wise men coming from a distant country.
It was true when Jesus healed the man with the demonic spirit.
It is true with the Canaanite woman.
It is true at the cross when the Roman solider confesses Jesus as the Son of God.
Matthew’s Gospel ends with telling us that our call is to go into all nations baptizing in the name of the father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Jesus of Matthew Gospel gives us a vision of the Kingdom of God that includes the all people.
And today we see that it even includes this Canaanite woman.
In order to say that God cares about all people we have to be able to say that God cares about this particular person.
This is not just an idea Jesus made up.
It is constantly in the scriptures.
There are times when God’s people forget this truth.
They bury it in national pride, self preservation, or legalistic procedure.
(By the way this is what happened in the Church before the reformation.)
Our reading from the prophet Isaiah gives us the vision of the world that God is bringing into being.
“For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”
Again in the Psalm, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations on earth.”
God chose Israel not because they were the powerful nation, but because they were of no significance.
By showing that they matter God showed that all people matter.
God’s cares about all people.
This week my daughter Phoebe came with me to some meeting I had in Durham and then at Camp Calumet.
In the car we had a discussion about God.
And she was telling me that God couldn’t possibly care about her problems.
They are too small and insignificant.
I spent some times trying to convince her that indeed God does care about her problems, because God cares about her.
God cares about Phoebe Hopkins.
If God doesn’t then we can’t make the claim that God cares about everyone.
And this is the good news for all of us that the God of the universe cares about each one of us.
We all matter to God.
That no matter where we find ourselves in our lives God cares.
We matter, because everyone matters.
We matter, because everyone matters.
Black people, brown people, red, yellow, pink (like me), and everything in between, all people matter to God.
That is what we have faith in.
We have faith that the meal of God’s grace is so big that we will get the scraps.
The meal overflows from the table and there is plenty left over for everyone.
That the meal is not about our skin color, nor is about our worthiness.
It is about a God who cares for us, whose love over flows.
Michael Curry, who is the first African American Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has told the story of why he is Episcopal.
His parents went to an Episcopal church one Sunday morning sometime in 1940, during segregation.
They were the only people of color there.
When the time came for communion his mother, who was confirmed, went up to receive.
His father, who had never been in an Episcopal Church, and who had only vaguely heard of Episcopalians, stayed in his seat.
As his father watched how communion was done, he realized that everyone was drinking out of the same cup.
The man looked around the room, then he looked at his fiancée, then he sat back in the pew as if to say, “This ought to be interesting.”
Would the priest really give his fiancée communion from the common cup?
Would the next person at the rail drink from that cup, after she did?
Would others on down the line drink after her from the same cup?
The person right before her drank.
Then she drank.
Would the next person after her drink from that cup?
The next person drank.
And on down the line it went, people drinking from the common cup after his fiancée, like this was the most normal thing in the world.
I love his story, because it shows what we as Jesus people believe.
That all lives matter.
That black lives matter.
That here in this place away from the world everyone is welcome to the feast of God’s love, grace, and mercy.
You who have come this morning are welcome here.
This is the place for you.
I was thinking on Monday that I really wanted to leave you with a positive message this week.
Then I read the text, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me.
I knew what I had to do this morning.
I knew that not everyone would like it.
But I hope you will take away the positive message that you matter to God, and if you matter then everyone else matters too.
That is the Good News of our God that no matter who you are, we matter.
That is the nature of a loving, grace filled God.
So when people say that black lives matter, what I hear is Good News!
I hope you will too.