Friday, April 19, 2013

Our ONLY response to fear ...

I have always liked the oratory and writings of Martin Luther King Jr.

In high school I remember discovering the book "A Testament of Hope: The essential writings of MLK" and devouring his words. My introduction to King came earlier, when in the basement of Centennial United Church in Stratford, our then minister Rev. Ross Cumming played a vinyl album of King's Christmas Sermon on Peace, that was recorded then broadcast, as part of the Massey Lectures on CBC.

I can still remember listening to the slightly hissy sound of King addressing his congregation in Georgia on Christmas Eve in 1967, and offering profound words that touched on so many topics, and offered an message of HOPE.

I was hooked. Ross opened the door, and since then much of what I've offered in my preaching, my reflections and my writing has been deeply grounded in the teachings and theology of King and his Gospel of Non-Violence, his Gospel of Justice, and most of all his Gospel of Hope.

In the last couple of days, I find myself revisiting King and his teachings. And I have noticed on Facebook that I am NOT alone in that - over and over since the bombing in Boston, quotations from MLK Jr have popped up on memes and postings, as people strive to make sense of the fear that has settled in.

King reminded us and continues to remind us that Love IS stronger than hate, compassion is stronger than apathy, and peace is stronger than anger ... we, like we did in the late 1960's, stand in a bewlidering place. The news is full of grim and horrendous happenings that leave communities and lives shattered. Our screens are full of bloodshed and suffering on a scale that is staggering. It is too easy to become fearfilled and lock ourselves behind closed doors ...

But, in that moment we have a Biblical example ... the first disciples locked themselves away behind closed doors for fear of the violence that could be directed at them and the harm they could experience ... they sat shivering in fear when suddenly the Risen One appeared before them and said the simple yet profound words: PEACE BE WITH YOU!! Shalom alakium!!

And in that moment the world changed!

We are no longer prisoners to fear. We are no longer people without hope.

We are the ones called, commissioned and sent out into the world to proclaim that gift of peace and to embody that hope.

We are the ones who go out into the corners of the world where fear is so thick that people lurk behind closed windows and locked doors, and we LIVE the HOPE that people like Martin Luther King so eloquently spoke and lived.

We are the ones who turn off the screens and fold up the newspapers when they are overflowing with terrible stories and happenings, and celebrate that our world is awash in goodness, revelling in the smiles and the community around us, and daring to proclaim that ONE DAY THE WORLD WILL CHANGE.

It is too easy to give into fear. But as people of faith - whether you are part of an organized faith, or just in touch with your own spirituality, our job is to go into the world and not let the darkness overwhelm us. We are to go into the world and BE THE HOPE and THE CHANGE we seek!!!

By sharing our care, our compassion, our understanding and our love, we will wear down the anger and fear and hatred that seems so prevelant. AND more importantly, by not giving into our fears, we will show others that the GOOD people out number the bad, and that as we fumble along in the darkness we will find more and more people yearning for the same thing, and soon the two or three that started the journey will be ten then twenty, then fifty, then a thousand ... and the strength of GOOD will grow, and those who preach messages of hate and try to beat us down with acts of terror will find themselves not only out numbered, but overwhelmed with the power of LIFE, LOVE and PEACE offered in HOPE.

As the British government said in the deep dark days of World War Two - "Keep Calm and Carry On!!" Today we Keep Calm, Carry On and embrace Hope rather then give in to fear.!!!

If our leaders can't offer that message, then we need to offer it ourselves!!!

We need to LIVE IT!!

We are a Hope-filled people - let's go and embody, embrace and share it !!!

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