I am always interested in the words chosen as “words of the year.” This year I have seen three words, named by different organizations, listed as the word of the year for 2018. The words are: misinformation, toxic and justice. In my MLK Jr. Sunday sermon I want to look at the way these words are reflected in Dr. King’s 1963 “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”
Misinformation (King was being called “an outside agitator.”) – “I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every Southern state with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some 85 affiliate organizations all across the South … Several months ago our local affiliate here in Birmingham invited us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented…”
Toxic (Describing the situation in Birmingham) – “I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White citizens’ “Councilor” or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice.”
Justice (In the white church it was being said that the gospel had nothing to do with justice.) – I have heard numerous religious leaders of the South call upon their worshippers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and merely mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard so many ministers say, “Those are social issues with which the Gospel has no real concern,” and I have watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely other-worldly religion which made a strange distinction between body and soul, the sacred and the secular…”
See You Sunday,
A Prayer – Oh God, in the midst of uncertainty, we pray that you would grant us peace. While frustration and anger come in waves, we ask that you would instill in us a spirit of gentleness. Empower us to reach out to those who are suffering and tend to your community here on earth. Amen (From sojo.net)
This Sunday’s Forum, which will take place after Stand and Sing for Justice, will provide an opportunity to discuss whether or not Lakeshore should become an “HP Free” congregation, in response to the Palestinian call to boycott Hewlett Packard because of the ways they profit off injustices in the Holy Land. If the Forum participants support this action we will vote on becoming an HP Free congregation at our annual meeting on January 27.
(The Prayer List will return next week. If you have a concern or celebration to include please let me know.)