Date – January 15, 2017
Text – Isaiah 49:1-2
“Listen, far-flung islands, pay attention, faraway people: God put me to work from the day I was born. The moment I entered the world he named me. He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate. He kept his hand on me to protect me. He made me his straight arrow and hid me in his quiver. He said to me, ‘You’re my dear servant, Israel, through whom I’ll shine.’”
Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable in your sight, O God, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.
“On this Sunday in which we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we realize that learning to recognize God’s word for ourselves and for our time may involve more than just our willingness to serve God……
We need mentors who will help us recognize when God wants us to sit in the silence and listen to what is going on around us.
We need friends…..Who encourage us to discover God’s activity for ourselves.
We need leaders….who encourage the telling of God’s truth no matter how painful or life-changing that word may be.
We need to both look for those who help recognize God’s prophetic word and to be those people whose response to God is ‘Here I am.’” (Whole People of God 1/16/2000 Adult Study)
“The ideal servant’s mouth is like a sharp sound. The servant’s voice is sharp, not destructive or harmful.
The servant’s words are sharp, pointed to the present issue because of his seclusion and time alone with God, hidden ‘in the shadow of God’s hand.’
The servant’s word is also sharp and piercing because it is like a polished arrow, prepared and polished by God.
Still the servant is a human agent, not immune to failure, disillusionment, and weariness.
Yet the servant is revived by the assurance of the guarantees from the God who called.
The servant has the personal assurance that what God began, God will complete.
God has been and will continue to be the servant’s strength, enabling God’s servant to fulfill the mission for which the servant has been called: to bring restoration to Israel and to be a light for the Gentiles.
The servant’s work shall not be in vain.
Even the kings of the earth shall hear, heed, and hasten to bow at the Holy One of Israel, the one who has chosen the servant.” ( 2005 Preaching Manuel)
I would like to share with you the words of Dr. Martin Luther King from his well known “I Have a Dream” speech, a servant’s words that are indeed sharp, and words that do pierce like a polished arrow. I will do my best to convey Dr. King’s passion for justice and truth in my own way!
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.
It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children 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 have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with it s vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of ‘interposition’ and nullification,’
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 have a dream today.
I have a 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.’
This is our hope.
This is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
‘My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!’
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children,
black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”
Free at Last! I suspect that those words speak not only to being free from the bonds of slavery, but in the context of our day, being free from many things, most importantly, fear.
I read that the night before Dr. King began his ministry of non-violent resistance, he spent the night at his kitchen table, praying for strength and courage.
He was very much afraid, and much like Jesus in the garden, and many of us in our own garden of Gethsemane moments, asked to be delivered from this call to sacrifice.
However, in the morning, strengthened by God’s Spirit, he began his journey.
Thank God, we as fallible human beings do not have to rely on our own strength alone, but knowing that God is always faithful, we can trust in God’s presence with us as we strive to imitate Christ and his passion for justice for all of God’s children.
May we all remember that courage is not, never being afraid, but is in reality, taking action in spite of our fear.
As we remember Dr. King and all who seek peace and work for justice, I pray that we too will, with courage, open our hearts and our minds to opportunities to exhibit that same passion for justice and peace in our time.
Let us pray:
Gracious, Loving and compassionate God, as we seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, give us the capacity to also dream of the day when justice will roll down like water on all of your precious children, regardless of the color of their skin, the way in which they worship, whom they love and how they love. May we dream this dream that can and will bring glory to you, but a dream that will bring peace to a broken world. In the name of the one who calls us to dream, Jesus the Christ. Amen.