Contributed by Patti Stratton
“Listen to me, O coastlands; pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born; while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’” (Isaiah 49:1-7)
Monday, January 20, is the day set aside to remember the person, life, work, and values of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s work is an inspiration to me. I share his passion for social justice and concern for the poor, marginalized, outsider, vulnerable, stranger, and outcast. I pray for love and compassion to be the rule that guides me and us in life. I seek to live that out—and it often gets me into trouble. I’ve been told I’m too inclusive, that I love too freely and accept too much. I’ve been criticized and shunned for loving my gay neighbors. I’ve been scolded for doing a ministry internship in a church that is open to and affirming of all people. I’m currently being denied opportunity to preach in the church in which I am a member in good standing simply because I am a woman.
On this day, when we remember the life and work of a man who gave his life that others might live a better, more abundant live of justice, equality, and grace I am reminded of another man who also gave his life that others might live a better and abundant life. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus: The reason I am still in Church, in spite of Church. Jesus: the One who came into the world, not to condemn the world, but so that the world, through him—his life, death, and resurrection—might be saved.
I began this post with a few verses from today’s lectionary reading, “The Servant’s Mission” from Isaiah 49. The next few verses express the Servant’s fear and God’s response: “But I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.’ And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength—he says…, ‘I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’”
Jesus gave us the Light of God and taught us how to share it. Dr. King is one who gave his life for the sharing of that Light. I am committed to living in that Light and share it with everyone around me. The Light of God cannot and will not be extinguished. Go forth and shine.