Dear Members and Friends,
Join us this Sunday January 17th at 10:00am for worship—our weekly ritual of coming together, attuning our ears, bolstering our spirits, and remembering our call as people of faith. I’m preaching from Mark 12:41-44, the story of the widow’s small gift to the treasury and how so often we ask those with the least to give up the most. The liturgy and prayers will be in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including a stunning choral anthem that intersperses songs and readings, written by U2’s Bono.
Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150 620 342
It is an anxious time in our city, as security significantly tightens in the downtown area. In order to keep our staff, volunteers, and guests as safe as possible, the Trustees have decided to close the building from today through next Thursday, January 21st. The Downtown Day Services Center will also close next Monday through Wednesday. As of today, the Radcliffe Room will operate on Sunday, however, plans are subject to change as the situation unfolds. If you have any questions about our building, please contact Facility Manager, Elias Bazezew (email@example.com). With prayer and discernment, the Session has also made the difficult decision to not provide hospitality on the day of the inauguration. Read their detailed statement here.
Finally, a heartfelt thanks to Pastor Rachel for holding down the fort, so that I could finish out my vacation last week. It’s never easy to juggle all the things when the Head of Staff is away, essentially doing two jobs at once, but last week was particularly challenging. Rachel’s leadership and pastoral care are a gift and I am grateful to have her as a colleague. In order that she might rest and process last week’s events, she will be off this weekend.
I leave you with Dr. King’s own words to the white moderate, an excerpt from “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection…
…You spoke of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist… But as I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist in love? — “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice? — “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? — “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist? — “Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God.” Was not John Bunyan an extremist? — “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a mockery of my conscience.” Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? — “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist? — “We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal.” So the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?
I had hoped that the white moderate would see this. Maybe I was too optimistic. Maybe I expected too much. I guess I should have realized that few members of a race that has oppressed another race can understand or appreciate the deep groans and passionate yearnings of those that have been oppressed, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent, and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too small in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some, like Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, and James Dabbs, have written about our struggle in eloquent, prophetic, and understanding terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They sat in with us at lunch counters and rode in with us on the freedom rides. They have languished in filthy roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of angry policemen who see them as “dirty nigger lovers.” They, unlike many of their moderate brothers, have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.
Peace and Courage,