From Mother Vicki
Luke 6:27-31 NRSV
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This is a difficult Gospel, the one chosen to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. who died on April 4th 50 years ago. King insisted on speaking the truth to power throughout his short life. The decision to go the way of non-violent response to evil cost him. He wrote in 1960, “In a day when sputniks dash through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, nobody can win a war. The choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” (Pilgrimage to Nonviolence, 1960) He understood early on that with the increased capacity to wage war in a way that leads to greater destruction, we are playing with forces which we cannot control and which can only lead to our own annihilation.
King writes in this article for Christian Century about his relationship with God: “In recent months I have also become more and more convinced of the reality of a personal God. True, I have always believed in the personality of God. But in past years the idea of a personal God was little more than a metaphysical category which I found theologically and philosophically satisfying. Now it is a living reality that has been validated in the experiences of everyday life. Perhaps the suffering, frustration and agonizing moments which I have had to undergo occasionally as a result of my involvement in a difficult struggle have drawn me closer to God. Whatever the cause, God has been profoundly real to me in recent months. In the midst of outer dangers, I have felt an inner calm and known resources of strength only God can give. In many instances I have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope. I am convinced that the universe is under the control of a loving purpose and that in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship. Behind the harsh appearances of the world there is a benign power.… So in the truest sense of the word, God is a living God. In him there is feeling and will, responsive to the deepest yearnings of the human heart: thus God both evokes and answers prayers.”
Connecting our belief in God with the trials and tribulations of our individual lives is hard to accomplish. And yet King is saying that the harder it is, and the more fervent our prayers, the more we will feel the presence of a living God. In deciding to take up Christ’s work on earth, loving our enemies and responding to the world with generosity and compassion rather than with fear and anger, we open up a channel to a profoundly divine conversation.
This Sunday, January 14th, we will honor The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by using lectionary readings and some of his own writings to spur us on to reconsider how we, individually and collectively, have participated in bigotry, prejudice and racism over the years, and how we may better address our lives as Christians in the future.
Martin Luther King Jr. often said, “Unearned suffering is redemptive.” If we take on the cares and problems of others, which is what this Gospel implies, then, yes, it will cost us, but it will also change the world.
Epiphany blessings and joy,
The Reverend Canon Victoria Sirota