Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Peter Stebinger and I have been chatting recently about Epiphany….a liturgical season that is by some overlooked, sort of a holding space between Christmas and Lent. We agreed that the time of the Magi, this season of stars, light, of prophecy, and voices from other traditions is a special time in our liturgical and spiritual journey.
God sent the stars to give light to the world
The star of my life is Jesus
In Him, there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The Lamb is the light of the city of God
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus
I want to see the brightness of God
I want to look at Jesus
Clear sun of righteousness, shine on my path
And show me the way. (I want to walk as a child of the light)
As most of you I spent time on MLK’s birthdate remembering, reading, watching clips, recommitting. I read in full the final speech of MLK, and am sharing with you the following Excerpts From the last speech of The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, 3rd of April 1968.
If I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?”
I would turn to the Almighty, and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.”
Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up.
The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around.
But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding.
Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, the cry is always the same: “We want to be free.”
We have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, Survival demands that we grapple with them.
Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it is nonviolence or nonexistence.
And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed.
I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding.
What’s beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel.
The preacher must be an Amos, and saith, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
The preacher must say with Jesus, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me,” and he’s anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.”
Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.
We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.
I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land.
I may not get there with you. But I want you to know that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
I was reminded of Bishop Tutu’s comments
I don’t preach a social gospel, I preach the Gospel….when people were hungry Jesus did not say now is this political or social, he said I feed you, because the good news to a hungry person is bread.
I cannot imagine what MLK’s experience might have been when he spoke of the mountaintop, and his calm assertion that he had seen the promised land. What I do understand is that the work we are called to accomplish in our Baptismal Covenant is not complete… the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few.
Jesus says to us, it is the other, the Samaritan, that stops to provide care for the victim along the side of the road. It is the Magi that seek the infant child and return by another road to avoid the power of the empire. It is Jesus who tells us to put our swords back into its place, that those who live by the sword will perish by the sword.
MLK would teach us that hope is not utopian or naive. It requires commitment, hard work, struggle, and sacrifice. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is among you.” We are not called upon to recreate a Garden of Eden to which we can all seek to retire. We are called to be peacemakers together in the struggle for a just world. We are called to let our light shine so that others may see our good works.
God, help us to love one another as you have loved us…help us to love those that are different from us in race, orientation, faith tradition, or language… God, help us to put down our weapons, be they verbal, literal, financial, systemic, historical, emotional. Help us to end our addiction to violence, hatred, and separation. Help us to shine our light more brightly.
You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1
Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you. MLK