November 23, 2022
Sermon by Rev Mark Kickett
at the funeral of Cassius Turvey
18 November 2022
I read earlier from Psalm 23. And that Psalm talks about the Great Shepherd.
The thing about life is, there's always a darkness that comes somewhere in it. There's always a challenge that's going to confront us.
In Psalm 23, we have the picture of this great Shepherd that comes and is the stiller of the storm and brings about a sense of tranquility and peace, and takes the darkness of that journey away. And there is the journey of love. And there is the journey of hope. And there is the journey of renewal.
We sit here in a time of darkness, but the Great Shepherd says this is the way that even though you're going through the challenge that you are having, I will share the journey with you, and I will walk with you.
So we have the scenes of the valley of the shadow of death and the refreshing of the quiet waters in the restoring and replenishing of life within the green pastures. But I want to paint another picture of this great Shepherd. Because there's also the sense of this God of justice, that also speaks into our life during our times of darkness, and our times of peace.
In another passage of scripture in Amos it says; “But let justice roll down like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream.” The book of Micah says; “He has shown you, oh man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you, but to act justly, and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”
Like most of the people in Amos' time and indeed, even during Micah's time, there was agreement with the general principle of justice. But everyone struggled with the ramifications of justice when it became personal.
Justice is the standard by which the benefits and penalties of living in a society are distributed. It is a central characteristic of the Kingdom of God, and the people of God are called to seek justice in Micah 6:8, not just for themselves, but for others.
But unfortunately, because of our own brokenness, and self-centeredness justice is always a rare commodity in human society.
The rich and the powerful historically have been the main opponents of justice. It was against the rich and the powerful of Israel that Micah spoke when he said, "What does God require of you, but to act justly, to love, mercy, and walk humbly"... In order to establish a just society, the rich and powerful will have to share, and even divest themselves, of their riches and their power.
During his ministry Jesus constantly demonstrated justice, but he demonstrated justice with love. He touched the people that needed healing. He walked the journey with those whose lives were distraught and were being tormented and he brought people back into a whole new way of living, and a whole new way of thinking. Living for justice, and we could talk about this till the cows come home, is one of the most challenging messages that we have today. And today, as indeed over this last few months, we are hearing it more and more and more.
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King in his famous, I Have a Dream speech. (And this is just a portion of it) He said:
“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right down in Alabama little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.”
Micah asks the question, “What does God want from you most of all, to love justice.” And that is to act justly, to do what is right. But also, within the same sense, it's also to love mercy. And to walk within the context of that relationship, that constant faithfulness, that constant loving kindness, that constant goodwill. And then he talks about walking humbly with the Creator.
When my five children were only small one of our favorite animated movies was Finding Nemo. Many of you may have seen it, your kids would have watched that. The story of Nemo takes us on a journey of this beautiful little reef fish that suddenly finds itself within a dentist office, it's pictured within Sydney Harbour. The challenge for Nemo is that he wants to go home, and he wants to get out of the confines of that space that's now taken his life. And during the course of the story, the cleaner would come and fill the tank and he realised that this was a weekly thing. So he started planning and they’d be put into a plastic bag with water taken out of the tank and set aside while he cleaned the tank. So, Nemo was able to devise a scheme by which he was able to find a way in which they would get flushed down through the drain. And as it happened, they got flushed back out into Sydney Harbour and could see freedom, could almost touch it. But as they did, there was a barrier, there was this thing that stopped them [the plastic bag] and they wanted to go because it was all before them. But they realised that this invisible thing that held them back wasn't gonna let it happen.
And one fish turns to Nemo. And he simply says, "What now?"
What now! And I say to us today "What Now" I say to ask that behold, we do stand at a crossroads as a nation, as First Nations people, as those who've colonised and come on board and have been a part of this whole lands that we now call Australia. What now for all of us?
I recognise that we have the challenges of social ills and social structures, our marginalised and disenfranchised people that are struggling with battle scars of life and most things that challenge us. But the question for us as a nation with our Aboriginal and Island people is, "What Now?"
But for the time, right now, it's about justice for Cassius and what is now our key phrase, “Forever 15.”
Please pray with me.
God of peace and God of hope. We thank you that you, in the midst of this darkness, shine a light of love, shine a light of unity and shine a light of care. And so for all our family as we celebrate, as we mourn, as we shed tears, may you continue to inspire us in ways that we never ever thought possible. We ask it in Jesus name. Amen.