John 1:43-51 Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.”… Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” … Nathanael exclaimed [to Jesus], “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!” … Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in 1957,
But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. The type of love that I stress here is not eros, a sort of esthetic or romantic love; not philia, a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends; but it is agape which is understanding goodwill for all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. It is the love of God working in the lives of men. This is the love that may well be the salvation of our civilization (from “The Role of the Church in Facing the Nation’s Chief Moral Dilemma”).
On our vacation last week, Dave and I watched a movie called “The Help,” set in 1963 Jackson, Mississippi. In 1963, Dave was growing up in Bolivia and I in Guatemala. We both remember where we were when we learned about the assassination of JFK. But we didn’t know the social context the movie portrays. Our naiveté seems unpardonable, but we were startled all over again to realize “those things happened in our lifetime—a hundred years after the Civil War.”
And another 58 years have gone by, and our nation still struggles with injustice, discrimination, racism… How God’s heart must bleed for his children!
I’ve been delighted to find an organization whose explicit goal is to foster racial healing within the church, which rather than leading the way toward justice and reconciliation, has often been the worst offender. Check out Be the Bridge online and on Facebook. You’ll find a whole course you can take to learn or re-learn what we all need to understand. There are materials that have been used and tested across our nation to bring communication and healing to people on both sides, in mixed groups of believers. One of my hopes for 2021 is to get involved in another Be the Bridge group in the fall, if Covid is under control enough to allow in-person gatherings again.
This morning I heard these prayers on our church’s daily Youtube devotions. May they be ours today, as we remember the life and death of MLK Jr. and his longing for the Beloved Community:
O God, you made us in your own image, and you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty God, grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Increase, O God, the spirit of neighborliness among us, that in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend to one another, and in homelessness, loneliness, or exile befriend one another, until the disciplines and testing of these days are ended, and you again give peace in our time; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.