Pastor's Letter - February
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
As I write this, it is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s day of observance, which means that he would have been 90 years old had he not been assassinated in 1968.
I want to write a bit about some of his sayings in part because he was a man whose public action came completely from his understanding of the Gospel. I think we could all learn some lessons from his words, some of which turned out to be quite prophetic.
My favorite quote of his is "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." To me, this recalls Romans 8:39, in which Paul reminds us that God's love is more powerful than anything else. Take a look at our world, and you see a world that needs to be reminded of this. Groups of people band together against each other based on political ideologies and positions on controversial subjects. It seems sometimes that we are far more eager to be against something than for something as a culture, and that negativity is hatred taking on form in us!
This quote also recalls Christ's remarks on the cross, when he says, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." This is a loving statement to people who many would have deemed unlovable. Imagine, Jesus crying out for the forgiveness of people who were shouting insults at him and jeering at him and committing all kinds of actions of disrespect! This is who we follow.
MLK was known for "nonviolent resistance." He was a strong believer that if you stand for something, stand for it calmly but sturdily. Do not back down, but do not contribute to the aggression around you. Yes, he landed in jail because of this, but not because he ever struck another human being. He argued with people who were part of his movement that wanted to act out of aggression or revenge.
Listen, I am not saying that Martin Luther King Jr. was Jesus, or anything like that- he was a human being with faults and flaws like any of us. But regarding so many aspects of his life, I wonder how we could learn from his example. A strong, firm, yet peaceful example of a man who would not give up the convictions that he believed came from God.
So let me challenge you to act out of love in your life in what you do, and not just love for the people you are "supposed" to love. Why do we, in Valley View, work down in Harrisburg with Brethren Housing Association? It's simple- they are God's children who need help that we can give. They might be from a different way of life than you, they might have grown up in a very different circumstance, but love is love, and if we as Christians are to have love in our hearts for people, then we need to have love for all, not just those who fit our viewpoints and match up with our thoughts and way of life. Sometimes our ideas can be challenged in a good way by those who are different from us!
Another quote that he is known for is, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." This came from a sermon in Selma in 1965. Things matter, like how we treat people. Like how respect is lived out. Like how the goodness of God's grace is seen in our actions. I think we all are somewhat convicted by this statement, because there have been times we have been afraid of speaking about something because we don't want to offend people. Or because we don't want people to stop liking us because of an opinion we have. Our faith compels us to speak out for those who Jesus spent his time with- the outcast, the unloved, the rejected people. I have had many conversations lately about the homeless man living by the St. Clair Walmart. Some are challenged by his position in life, and question his motives, his ability to get himself out of his situation, and his resources. I truly believe that him and others like him need to have love from God in their lives, and if we can show them that in any way, this is what we should do. We can debate what that looks like, but part of the Christian walk is loving those who have little hope and little love.
Let us go out and boldly share the Love of Christ to all around us!
See you along the way,