Monday, January 16, 2006

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." (1 Samuel 3:10, NIV)

The Revised Common Lectionary on the ELCA web site lists the readings for this last Sunday, and then has this brief notation for Sunday's worship: "Martin Luther King, reformer of society, martyr, 1968 (commemoration)."

Truer words have rarely been spoken.

It would have been very easy for Dr. King to stay at his pulpit, continue to preach heaven and holiness to his congregation, and to take no action against the powers and principalities of their world bent on perpetuating hatred and racism. Thankfully, Dr. King heard the calling of the Lord to do something more - and the world is a different place because of it.

It has been forty-plus years since Dr. King's famous "I have a dream!" speech. Yet that dream remains stubbornly unfulfilled in the early days of 2006. And I have to wonder how much we, as Christians, are responsible for that lack of fulfillment.

In the great commandments, Jesus calls each of us to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. There is no asterisk (*) next to the word "neighbor" saying "just the neighbors who look like us, sound like us, or believe as we do." Yet the 21st-century Christian church has been more well known (especially in the last years of the 20th century and forward) for judging others, rather than how it has been known for helping the stranger or the ones who are not like "us."

On this day, declared as a holiday to commemorate Dr. King's life, let us, as followers of Christ, resolve to love our neighbors, and serve them and their needs, and ignoring the reasons that "they" shouldn't receive our help (no matter which group we might happen to consider to be "them").

For myself, I look forward in anticipation to the days when "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood." (That sure sounds like a description of the Kingdom of God to me!)

I too have a dream that the children of this land "will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

I, too, dream that "one day, right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."

I too dream that "one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together (Isaiah 40:5)."

I have a dream today - that the Christian church in America will turn to their Lord and Savior and, putting aside all private or denominational agendas, they will all say, as Samuel said and as Dr. King's life and death testified...

"Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."

1 comment:

Michael said...

My favorite aunt, a sweet woman, was visiting my parents when I called them yesterday. I mentioned I had off from work for MLK today. My mother said that Bobbie had just remarked about it being Martin Luther King day, but she had said it with a sneer. My mother, thinking she was being helpful, told her to celebrate it instead as Robert E. Lee's birthday (January 19). Good Christian women and the dream still a long way off...