Sunday, January 20 2019
On this weekend we remember the work and ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, the issue of the day was forced segregation on city buses. Pastors gathered at a local Baptist Church to come up with a strategy to deal with the injustice. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white person and moving to the back of the bus. They tossed a few ideas around, but couldn’t settle on a single strategy until a young pastor volunteered to lead a boycott and civil disobedience. We segregated everything from schools to drinking fountains on the basis of ethnicity at that time in our history. Martin Luther King Jr. was not a perfect person, but when he had the courage to take action, he radically changed this country. He was called by God to lead the people of this nation to be transformed to a new place and it wouldn’t come without a cost.
I believe that people are called constantly by God, but we are too afraid of the consequences or too distracted to hear the voice of God. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. later wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which we studied in Advent. This letter was his response to the "A Call for Unity" where clergymen had criticized him and argued that social injustices existed, but needed to be resolved solely in the courts and not in the churches or the streets. His letter explained clearly that justice is a matter that we need to bring into the streets and into our churches. Dr. King argued that civil disobedience was justified in the face of unjust laws and was necessary if change was to occur.
I believe that it takes courage to transform ourselves into what God calls us to be. I agree with Dr. King that we should live in this new place where justice and equality prevail. We start by treating everyone with dignity and respect. We offer hospitality to all, food to the hungry, cloths to the naked, living water to the thirsty, and freedom to the oppressed. Let’s keep politics out of our conversation, but not be restrained from doing what is right. How do oppressed people get the respect and dignity that they deserve? Their hope lies in the abundance of God’s love. Jesus came that we might have the abundant life that turns water into wine and helps the poor, the orphaned and the hungry. Jesus teaches not only what this new place looks like, but shows us the path that we must take.
We have all the tools and resources that we need to make this an incredible year at St. John’s. Jesus, who can turn water into wine, can transform us into this new place, if we have the courage to take action. But it does not come without a cost. I would like every member of our parish to think about how they can bring the love of God to the community of Huntington. We promise in our Baptismal Covenant to continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to persevere in resisting evil, to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves, and to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. Perhaps you could help with the Thrift Shop, join our Racial Reconciliation Ministry, invite a friend to a service or one of our events, or just make a commitment to attend services regularly. God can do amazing things if we will only have the faith and courage to be a part of the transformation.
In Christ’s love,