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« Motives for a Better City | Main | Why Christmas is in December »
Sunday
Jan162011

To Living Hope on the eve of MLK Day, 2011

I delivered this message to my beloved church, Living Hope Church, on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011, the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

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Tomorrow our nation will pause and reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It is my prayer that as the nation remembers Dr. King, that we as a community of faith, that we, as Living Hope Church, will also reflect on the life and words of Martin, our brother in Christ, and the faith that propelled him to struggle for justice, righteousness and reconciliation.  It is my prayer that as we reflect and remember that we will, as followers of the one who came to reconcile all things to himself, consider again our Christ-calling to live as ambassadors of reconciliation even as we proclaim a Gospel that has the power to reconcile people to God and people to one another. 

 Jesus taught us that, of all Scripture, the greatest commands are to love God and likewise, love our neighbor.  It was those dual loves that propelled the young Baptist preacher into the struggle for civil rights.  He saw that injustice imposed on black children wasn’t just harming black children who were growing up believing themselves to be inferior, but the oppression was also damaging white children who were believing themselves superior.  King would articulate this by saying:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. 

Months before his death, he would reiterate this idea again but in a more personal manner:

I said to my children, ‘I’m going to work and do everything I can do to see that you get a good education.  I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are.  For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be’.

It is precisely this sentiment that we labor alongside the teachers and families of Memphis at The Neighborhood School and Vollentine Elementary School.  It is precisely this understanding that moves us see the orphans of the Haven Orphanage in Kenya be cared for, educated and discipled.  It is because we understand that loving our neighbor can often be one of the most radical things we do and we see that the lives, the futures and the faith of our children, in Hope Park, is, in ways subtle and painfully obvious, inescapably tied to the lives, futures and faith of the children in Managua, Kabul and Memphis.  The gospel of Jesus, the love of God compels us. 

Not long after arriving in Memphis and joining Living Hope I wrote these words, upon reflecting on Living Hope and the life of Dr. King.

I long for Living Hope to be a community of faith that King would be proud of. A community that loves God, loves God’s world and follows Jesus courageously and radically. A community that recognizes the personal, corporate and systemic ways sin can destroy and righteousness can heal. A community that sees, as King saw, the links between racism, materialism and violence. A community that groans for and acts on behalf of the Kingdom of God. A community that more beautifully reflects the Beloved Community that is found in and through Christ.

 This remains my prayer and longing for our church. 

Will you pray with me, as I pray for us.  

Reader Comments (2)

Beautiful!

January 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJR Rozko

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October 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterczyhsk czyhsk

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