Friday, January 13 2023
Martin Luther King, who we celebrate this weekend, helped a whole generation see where the ways of heaven begin to get an unlikely foothold on this earth. He helped us remember that walking with Jesus means working for justice--revealing in our midst already a world where love reigns, a realm of God's shalom--of wholeness--where nothing's broken and no one's missing, where a table is spread and all are welcome. We are called, just as the disciples and Martin Luther King Jr. were called to point to the living truth that through living the Gospel, in the love of Jesus Christ, we can overcome hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia and greed. We are called to go out into the world and shine the light of Christ to the world. We need to be confident that the path that Christ chose is the path that we are to follow. We need to see that the path of greed in our culture is eroding our souls and leading to a long term distortion of our values. Only in the light of God’s love can we change our path. By giving of ourselves for the sake of the poor, we can deepen our faith and point to Jesus Christ.
Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus Christ. Who was and is and will forever be, the Son of God. John points to Jesus and says, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! ...and John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi,” "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah.” God, John, and the disciples all point to Jesus and exclaim, “this is the Son of God, the Messiah.” The Epiphany season begins with the appearing or manifestation of Jesus Christ. I pray that each of you will have a deepening faith and that you can point to the manifestation of Jesus Christ among us.
In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, the issue of the day was forced segregation on city buses. Pastors gathered at a local Baptist Church--strategizing. 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 against the culture in power. This culture gave white people a better seat on the city bus and segregated everything from the school to the drinking fountains. Martin Luther King Jr. was not a perfect person, but when he accepted his marching orders to a path of truth, he radically changed this country. He was called by God to lead the people of this nation to a new place and it wouldn’t come without a cost. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “It's alright to talk about streets flowing with milk and honey, but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preacher must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.” King knew that his words might lead to his death and yet his words have led to a better life for millions of African Americans. He glorified God through his words and actions. His boundary crossing, self-giving love is exactly what Jesus was talking about. How do you manifest Jesus Christ through your action?
In Christ’s love,