DONALD TRUMP: THE PALE RIDER ON A PALE HORSE
Second Sunday in the Time of the Harvest
This is the second week in Harvest time. This is the time when God harvests a people that will bring his Kingdom to the earth. Remember, Scripture often calls on us not to judge. Jesus tells a parable which instructs the workers not to pull up the weeds because they might pull up the good crop with the weeds. Yet he says during the Harvest, God will separate the good crop from the weeds. That won’t be an easy time. It is not an easy process.
How does God make this separation? During the Harvest time, the wickedness and arrogance of man exposes itself and then the good that comes from God stands out – and God protects it. That is our message today.
In Texas, we are seeing a lot of solidarity as people join together to save life. That is the goodness and the love that comes from God. ON the other hand, we see the forces of wickedness and racism already at play. Those who are undocumented have told us that they are afraid to seek shelter, afraid even to hand a sheet on their homes so that they could be rescued, afraid that they would be arrested and deported. In spite of what officials are saying these fears are well founded. There are almost 600,000 undocumented in Houston alone – and among them are many dreamers. In the midst of the biggest flood disaster in U.S. history, President Trump announced that he would announce “what he would do with the dreamers” in a few days. The Attorney General of the United States has already stated publically that “the dreamers must go.” In the midst of the crisis, the head of Homeland Security declared that ICE would be looking for those with criminal records to deport. He made it clear that the undocumented, all those who were not citizens, were ineligible for any government assistance.
We saw it in Katrina. The people worked together during the storm. After the storm, the rich redeveloped the city for themselves and the people of color were driven from New Orleans.
The failure to address Global warming; the failure to stop overdevelopment in Houston so that there was no ground left to absorb the rains, these acts of arrogance unleashed the power of nature. This powerful nature revealed both the forces of good and the forces of wickedness for everyone to see – and choose between..
As we wait on the decision from Trump on DACA and TPS, and as we struggle with Francis in sanctuary and Miguel in detention and Luis in court fighting the gang identification that prevented him from getting DACA – we see Trump’s CALLOUS attitude towards the humanity of Texas in the flood and his quick return to his agenda: tax cuts for the rich, cuts in programs that serve the poor – including emergency response programs – cuts in health care, leaving millions without insurance. We see a president issuing threats of death to Korea – and to Venezuela. And we see the forces of wickedness unleashed against people of color, suppressing and driving them from “his America”.
We look to scripture today to understand the forces that are at work in the world we live in. We look to the letters from John to the seven churches, immigrant churches trying to survive the oppression and marginalization of the empire, recruiting through their faith new converts whose oppression was not as defined or severe.
Today he writes to them his vision of these forces: the four horsemen of the apocalypse: the four horsemen that represent the forces of self-destruction in the empire. There is a White Horse of Conquest. We live in the United States which has military bases in 140 countries around the world. They say they have the strongest economy in the world but that economy is based on conquest and force. This nation has installed its chosen governments by force all over Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. And the cost in bloodshed and lives lost is in the millions. That White Horse of Conquest is riding through the world today.
Then the prophet saw a Red Horse with a rider who rode to create violence between the peoples. We see the violence in the Middle East that has come because the U.S. destroyed governments and destabilized the region, pitting the peoples against each other, divided by religion. But this violence that the prophet saw is closer to us. It is in Mexico and El Salvador and Honduras as the drug cartels, fed by the market for drugs in the U.S. and armed with the guns produced here, have created hell on earth for our families and our children. Many here have lost family to this violence; many have left their countries because of it, many live now fearing for the lives of their loved ones. And yet even here, the violence of those who sell the drugs for the cartels reaches into our streets and doorsteps and takes the lives of our young people.
Then the prophet saw a third horse, a Black Horse with a rider who rode to bring exploitation to the people. He brought the corporations who make huge profits and steal the wages of hardworking people; who starved the economies of the south and opened their factory gates and fields to those forced to migrate to work for cheap wages – and when there were too many, he sent an army of ICE agents to take fathers and mothers away from their children, to send them back to the violence that the red horse had created.. The horse and rider the prophet saw is riding through our land today and we hear the beat of the hooves on our rooftops.
The fourth horse was a Pale Horse with a pale rider. This horse and rider brought death to the land. I think we should focus on the pale rider on the pale horse of death – for that is Sessions riding Donald Trump. Jesus calls on us to feed the hungry – for food brings life. We worship a God of life. Everything we do, that comes from above, serves life. In this Harvest Time, the division between those who follow the God of life and those who follow the pale rider on the pale horse of death. Government policies that take food from the poor oppose life; governments that arrest and deport millions of people of color, stealing everything they have built and earned in this country, separating families – these are the policies that oppose life. These are the policies of those follow the pale rider.
Jesus also makes it clear how those who follow the God of life must act. He tells them that those who ignore “the least of these my people”, those with the least status in society, they are also turning their back on God, on the God of life. During the Texas flood, neighbors were helping neighbors, reaching out for those in the worst situations, with the fewest resources. This stood on the other side of the Harvest line from a government which announced it would deport millions, the same millions neighbors had risked their life to save.
You see the line is being drawn now in the Harvest between those who follow the pale rider and those who follow the God of life. The line is being drawn so that all may see it – and choose.
There is one more part to the vision of this second week in Harvest time. The prophet writes that, In the midst of these forces came the angels – remember that each of the seven churches also had an angel watching over it. He writes, “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.” Those who were sealed and protected were the believers and those who stood firm in their belief in the God of life.
God selects those who follow him, who follow the God of life. God protects but God requires that we not only believe faithfully but that we act faithfully. That is why we’re protecting Francis inSanctuary. That is why we march today for the dreamers and for the refugees now threatened by Trump. That is why our youth are learning health care skills and reaching out for the uninsured to get them health care, to fight the twenty year death gap.
Today we march – we march for those who are denied status in this nation, those who the pale horse and the pale rider would drive from this nation. We march because we choose the God of Life – and because we know that God chooses us. Empires and governments built on greed and racism and death will come and go – but the people of God will persevere. That was true of the Roman Empire and it is true today. For the love of God is everlasting – and the wickedness of man passes like smoke dying flames. The wickedness of those who follow the pale horse of death is being exposed, is getting clearer every day, so that the people can see and can choose life!
We march – because we choose. We march – because when we march, the God of life chooses us. And when God is with us, who can stand against us? Nobody! Nobody! So let the pale rider expose his wickedness to the world – all we need is faith. So let us ask together: Give us Faith! Give us Faith!
. The Holy Scriptures for the 2nd Week in Harvest Time
Matthew 23:40-46 For one of the least of these ….
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Revelation 6:1-8 The Seals
I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword. When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Revelation 7:1-4 144,000 Sealed
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.