June 26, 2011—Matthew 10:40-42
Last week, I preached on the riots in Vancouver, and the escalation of a mob mentality. Now we have the sequel. So the mood turned quickly — from commiseration, to shock, to anger. By Sunday, people were outing the rioters on Facebook, identifying them based on pictures that ran on the Internet. Some of the pictures, showing young people smiling in front of damaged cars and store windows, could inspire only our outrage. One young woman, who went into a store and stole two pairs of men’s pants — for a souvenir, she said — lost her job. A few parents turned their kids in to police, forcing them to take responsibility for what they had done. A 17-year-old delivered himself to the police station and owned up to stuffing a lit rag into the gas tank of a police car.
The reaction by citizens has been angry and hostile. Parents have reported getting death threats to their homes. One family has even moved out. People who participated in the riots have been attacked verbally online. Even those who were on the streets when it happened — and as one woman explained on CBC this weekend — and who could not easily escape when the riot began have been the subject of nasty critics.
There’s a line here, and we need to ask ourselves whether it has been crossed: have we passed from righteous indignation to self-righteous scapegoating? We want to think that this was the work of disenfranchised thugs, but it wasn’t: many of these people were youth who are from families that are stunned they would act this way. It could have been any one of us. As parents, it could have been any one of our kids. We want to believe otherwise. But those parents, the ones forcing their kids to own up to what they have done, also believed it to be so.
The gospel this morning gives us specific directions most importantly, in these words from Jesus: Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward. We know our calling: to serve and tend to others, especially the little ones.
Continue reading Sunday Sermon: Pentacost 2
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This week, on the eve of Father’s Day, I am sad to say, we saw true evidence of man’s weaker nature – on display, in Vancouver, for the rest of the world to see. And I say man on purpose, because the pictures prove it was mostly men, and young men, trashing their own city after a hockey game. A hockey game which seems big until you start comparing it to the reckless damage they caused. On one Facebook post, a young guy – foolish enough to openly use his real name – bragged about punching a police officer and flipping cars – “smart” cars, especially, the environmentally friendly ones. In his post, he goes on to brag how he is going to be on the news: he writes one word – history!
But it was one video in particular that struck a chord with many of us. In the video, one man emerges to stand before an angry mob, throwing rocks through windows. He’s a regular looking guy – a regular looking dad kind of guy - a bit overweight, balding, wearing a Canucks hat. He stands in front of the mob and declares: “This is my city!” and orders them away. The mob pauses as one unit. They aren’t sure what to do. And then one person steps in and punches the guy, and the rest follow. The man eventually falls down, beaten and kicked. This video will go around the world in less than 24 hours. Not a proud advertisement for the Canadian hockey fan—or for the Canadian male, for that matter.
Michael Fry plays a violin adaptation of Luther Vandross' "A dance with my Father"
And so, this morning, Paul tells us: Put things in order. And we have this horrifying and shameful example of how disorder trumps order so many times. This is an especially nasty one: how could a hockey game rank higher than the life and safety of even one person, let alone thousands? It is a concrete visual example of the power of mobs, especially ones with muscle.