God's Justice in a Hostile Land
Listen to me,We mark today, here in the United States, the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech. That moment in our common history works as a pivot point for people who strive for justice and peace, who work for the civil rights of all people in our society to know its freedoms as they accept the responsibilities that come from the exercising of the same. It was a moment, for so many on that day and for those yet-to-be-born, in which we were able to step beyond color, class and station to touch the ideal that someday, somehow we might know a common humanity. King's speech held up and articulated what life should be like and he spoke those words in the face of an era much like our own.
you who look for righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock
from which you were cut
and to the quarry
where you were dug.
Look to Abraham your ancestor,
and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
They were alone when I called them,
but I blessed them
and made them many. (Isaiah 51:1-2)
That we still live in a society divided by race, class, wealth, power and more should not be a surprise. After all, even Jesus himself reminded us that we will always have the poor with us. What we do need to focus on today, and pretty much every other day of our lives, is that while injustice persists our call to confront that injustice as people of faith continues as well. King spoke to people who had gathered to talk not only about color and race, but also about labor and the right to work in safe places for living wages. What we not inherit is the blessing and obligation that his vision articulated: There is a way to live that is beyond hate, fear, violence, addiction, rape, anger, violence, suppression, oppression, evil. There is a way to embrace what God has given us, that common heritage of being created, formed, called and named as God's own people.
If all of us can look to Abraham and Sarah as our mother and father, for scripture informs us that God's Promise to these two ancient parents makes them our common ancestor, then what holds us back from seeing each person in the world as our sibling? What excuse do I have, do any of us have, to look down on or exclude ANYONE if they are my brother or sister, by blood and by faith.
God's challenge to us today is that we willingly answer the eternal call placed upon us from the beginning: to be the people we were made to become. We were made to be just, good, fair, loving, present to need and open to the Other in our lives.
Everything else twists and distorts the glory of our being as God intends.
King named that truth 50 years ago. May he not be the last to dream a dream like that one....that he is not, and that people still strive for basic human, and civil, right for all is his true legacy.