January 15, 2021
Today, Jan. 15, would be the 92nd birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassinated in 1968, Dr. King was a major leader in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. This weekend and especially this Monday, Jan. 18, we honor him and remember his tireless commitment to nonviolent seeking of racial justice.
Wednesday, Jan. 20 is Inauguration Day in our country. In the wake of the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, government and law enforcement leaders are locking down parts of Washington, D.C. and planning for potential violence there and around the country.
I wonder what Dr. King would have to say in these times. A Baptist pastor for all his life, I imagine he would remind us that our true and final loyalty is to Jesus Christ, our Savior, teacher, leader and friend. I imagine he would be shocked by people storming the Capitol, destroying property and threatening people, while still (in some cases) calling themselves Christians. I expect he would condemn those actions, as do I.
Followers of Jesus are called to a higher standard than what the world tolerates. That standard is spelled out in Scripture when Jesus says the greatest commandment is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” And the Apostle Paul continues in Jesus’ line by saying, “love is patient and kind…” That passage from I Corinthians 13:4 is the guide for our worship this Sunday, as we continue with our series, “Grounded in Love.” Just as an aside, other major world religions also hold their faithful followers to high standards of behavior, to an ethic of love.
I imagine Dr. King would continue to hold to what he said during his life – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Here is my prayer for today: Gracious God, draw our nation and our world into your healing love. Inspire us to choose love over hate and peace over violence. Help us talk with one another so differences can be understood. Heal those who are sick with COVID or other illnesses, and watch over those who care for them. Move in our communities so vaccines can be easily distributed. Strengthen us, O God, to follow your leading way of love in all places and times, throughout our lives. Amen.