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Student Voices: Garrett DeGraffenreid
Garrett, ’15, leading in worship at the 2015 DYA Residency.
Oct 19, 2015 | Garrett DeGraffenreid, '15




Garrett DeGraffenreid, DYA ’15, shared this sermon on July 24 at Tulsa University at the Synod Youth Workshop for the Synod of the Sun of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). In it, he builds on theological ideas he learned at DYA Residency.

My name is Garrett DeGraffenreid and my talent is speech. Last year, I gave a homily on the church and how we are not only her future leaders but that we are her leaders today. Our generation has already began transforming the church into something closer to the reign of God. This ties into that.
 
Perhaps one of my other gifts given to me by God is that I am prophetically pissed off. Believe me, that is a gift. God gives all of us things that we are prophetically pissed off about. Perhaps yours is poverty, or education, or if you’re like me, social injustice. 

God gives us this righteous anger. God gave it to Old Testament judges and prophets and to Jesus in the temple. This same anger can be seen in modern leaders like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. God makes us prophetically pissed off so that we can imagine alternatively, so we can change old establishments to make them more according to the nature of God.

An example: when slaves began to read the bible an alternative Christianity formed. Before, whites could hold up a bible and spout off verses about obedience to authority, but now that slaves could read they saw a God who delivered slaves out of Egypt, they saw a God who sent Jesus to give release to the captives, they saw a God whose love was unimaginably open and radical. Even today the black church exemplifies that liberation and love. After the shooting in South Carolina, members of Mother Emanuel AME invited the shooter to repentance and offered forgiveness. That’s an act of radical love if I’ve ever seen one. 

We can use our anger at injustice to imagine an alternate reality. In fact, to truly follow Christ is an entrance into the alternate reality of the reign of God. Church is an alternative to what culture calls sociality, when we enter the church we leave our society given labels of hierarchy at the door. We are no longer black, white, LGBT, Baptist, Presbyterian, liberal, conservative, male, female, slave, free, for we are one in Christ; we are the beloved creation. 

God gives us prophetic anger and we can imagine alternate realities, and then we can create them. We can do our part to bring forth the reign of God. We can study the bible imaginatively like the slaves did. We can denounce hierarchical society because proclaiming Christ is a proclamation of a great “something else,” a proclamation that we belong in a realm not native to this world. Do not plainly accept injustice that is rooted into our society, we created these systems, therefore we can re-create them.

Notice that pronoun, we. This whole journey starts individually, in the social justice world we tell people to get woke, to wake up, so that once you are woke, that is, prophetically pissed off, you can join and you becomes we. We, the body of Christ. And I do mean the body of Christ, not the forearm of Presbyterianism. The whole body can work together and put aside our petty differences and together we can proclaim that Jesus is Lord and that God is love. And we can work like John the Baptist and proclaim God’s favor and help bring in the Reign of God, a reign of love, justice, mercy, and forgiveness. 

I end with a charge. Find what you are prophetically pissed off about. I guarantee God has given you something. Find it and then dream, dream an alternate reality closer to the reign of God. Then work with one another to bring it into your life. That will change the world. That will help create a world in the image of God.

The Lord be with you. Amen.

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