1.while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
Well, I’m going to go back on my word.
now I didn’t swear to it, but I told the liturgy committee when we were meeting weeks ago and taking a look at the texts for Lent, I told them that I would not preach about what Jesus wrote in the dirt. Because what if he was simply doodling to buy time? Or, as I’ve reflected on it, it occurred to me what if Jesus were listing the sins of the men who dragged that woman and stood in judgement of her? What if Jesus were writing the name of the man with whom she had committed adultery? You know it takes two. And, by the way maybe you are wondering why he’s not there to begin with? But that’s fodder for another sermon—a sermon on adultery (let’s see how popular that Sunday is?) or more accurately on the double standards in the bible. But, as I said that’s another sermon all together.
Today, I ask, what if Jesus wrote two little words in the dirt. What if kneeling down in the dirt in front of that woman we wrote: Me too.
Me too. The phrase created by
Social activist and community organizer Tarana Burke over 10 years ago. in 2006 as part of a grassroots campaign to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who have experienced sexual abuse, particularly within underprivileged communities. Tarana Burke has said she was inspired to use the phrase after being unable to respond to a 13-year-old girl who confided to her that she had been sexually assaulted. Burke later wished she had simply told the girl, “me too”.
More recently, Me too has been spoken to name and bring attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault in our country. Me too. the words of victims, words of survivors. Me too. Words that seek to re-claim the power that others have sought to take from women and from some men. Me too. In just two words, women and men have tried to say—you are not alone, me too, moves the experience from that of the individual to a community—me too makes me or you, or her, or him, or them — into we. Not to weaken the power of those two words, but again this week grieving families and communities can now respond Me too as victims and survivors of another school shooting. Perhaps if we think about our connections, maybe Me too can inspire us to we can add our names, add our energy to the struggle for gun law reform, for the work we are doing as a church with the Do Not Stand Idly By gun violence campaign. See Me too moves us beyond thoughts and prayers to declare we are not powerless, we will not remain silent victims. We may not have the exact same experience, but we can be one in resistance, one in strength, one in compassion. We are many, we are together, we are with one another. We are one—me too.
And isn’t that what Jesus is saying with the words, “without sin pick up the first stone”? And when we try to pull Jesus out of his humanity, let us remember that even Jesus doesn’t pick a stone, but writes in the dirt.
He writes in the dirt, and isn’t that the point of what some of us did and what some of us tried to do this past week. Me too, is the point of putting our finger in the dirt and marking our skin. Death is part of life, for me too. Sin, suffering, and selfishness is part of life, for me too. This is even and especially true for those who add that glitter to our ashes, to the dirt. It is a way to remind ourselves that are not disconnected from people in the LGBT+ community. We share a common humanity. We are all intertwined interconnected. As parts of liturgy tells us, and as Diana Butler Bass in her Book “Grounded: Finding God in the World, A Spiritual Revolution” points out, we are made of stardust. She quotes: British scientist and theologian Arthur Peacocke,[who] explains, “Every atom of iron in our blood would not be there, had it not been produced in some galactic explosion billions of years ago and eventually condensed to form the iron in the crust of the Earth from which we have emerged.” And, evidently tons of cosmic dust settles on our planet, on us, on animals, on the plants, in the dirt. And that Jesus himself: Like all human beings, he carried within himself the signature of the supernovas and the geology and life history of the Earth. The atoms comprising his body once belonged to other creatures.
The ashes this day can be symbols to us of so much more than just death, repentence, if that were not enough they connect us as stardust to the cycle of death and new life. The ashes are nothing more than the dirt Jesus wrote on that day with the woman. They are completely earth and it is the earth that is sacred. They are the stars and the stars are sacred. They are us and we are sacred.
So today if you wish you can come forward may the mark of dirt rubbed on to your skin, either your forehead or your hand, may you feel the touch of Jesus, may you feel the Sacred One who says to all who are hurting, to all who want to change their lives, who want to change the world, “me too”. Amen.