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Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday – MLK and Housing

We are living in historic times…
 
On Tuesday before dawn, a group of moms were evicted from a vacant house in Oakland, drawing attention to the fact that here in Oakland there are nearly four vacant properties for every homeless person. It’s not so much an issue of scarcity, but of distribution.  It raises many questions: Who are we? Why is this happening? What are we called to do, as a society, and as people of faith? 
 
The questions raised by another great prophet of recent history, Rev Dr Martin Luther King Junior, who, following in the ways of Jesus and of Gandhi,  embraced non violent civil resistance to bring forth greater justice and good news for the poor, who continue to be disproportionally people of color. 
 
I am sharing with you these articles about Kingian Nonviolence conflict reconciliation: “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence and “Statement and Letter from Birmingham Jail“. 
 
Please join us for worship and for a conversation after worship about non violent conflict reconciliation as it relates to our current housing crisis. 
 
I leave you with the prophetic words of Dr King: 
We shall overcome someday, 
The ultimate measure of humankind is not where we stand in moments of comfort and  convenience but where we stand and times of challenge and controversy.
We’ll walk hand in hand… 
We will have to repent in this generation.. not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of silence of the good people. in the end will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.
We are not afraid… 
nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon because it cuts without wounding and ennobles the one who wields it.  Non-violence is a sword that heals.
The truth shall set us free…
unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.  Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.
We are not alone .. 
the solution to poverty is simply this.. we must abolish it..
We shall all be free… 
on the day before his death he simply said,  I just want to do God’s will.. 
Blessings, Pastor Laurie 
 

MLK Sunday – a Drum Major for Justice

50 yrs ago the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church before his assassination. It is a remarkable sermon. In it, he discusses his own death and how he wanted to be remembered. In addition, he skillfully used the “Drum Major Instinct” theme – “thinking that you are somebody big because you are white” – to offer a deep critique of contemporary culture and an inspired, practical vision for living the Gospel. Specifically, he critiqued the dangerous down-side of the drum major instinct. He addresses white supremacy, racism, economic injustice and war.

Like so many of his sermons, this one has incredible relevance for us today, the year after an election in which various forms of the drum major instinct are on parade all across our nation.  It is also what makes the message King brings home so poignant: the call of the Gospel to be a drum major for justice and peace, a drum major for serving humanity, that we may “make of this old world a new world.”

Join us this Sunday, as we listen to the prophetic voice of Dr King, 50 yrs later.

I share with you an excerpt from his sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church:

… And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem. And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. …And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, “Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. [laughter] You’re just as poor as Negroes.” And I said, “You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. (Yes) And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you’re so poor you can’t send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march.”

Now that’s a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, (Make it plain) he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white—and can’t hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out. (Amen)

Delivered February 4, 1968.  listen to the audio.

Cultivating Balance in This Age of Unrest

Particularly now, in this age of unrest and uncertainty with the endless wave of inhumane executive orders, we can be tempted to give in to  the emotions of fear, rage, and despair.   It is so important to learn how to acknowledge all of our feelings so that we do not react, repress, or succumb to them.   It is so important to learn how to choose our response by cultivating a sense of peace within ourselves. 

We have much to learn from the great spiritual traditions of this season, especially the contemplative practices including prayer, yoga, and seated and walking meditation.  I invite you to join us for our weekly hikes, or get in touch with me about our ongoing prayer group and meditation sessions.  Also stay tuned for more Taize services coming up. 

© Kutt Niinepuu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

There are some who would dismiss these methods as passive,  escapism, and being too inwardly focused. Yet, consider the power of such leaders as Gandhi and Dr. King  who transformed society through peaceful, non violent civil resistance.  Cultivating balance is so important in this age of unrest. 

I’d like to share with you a short video to inspire you in these challenging times to cultivate mindfulness, understanding, clarity, and renewal:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/zen-and-the-art-of-activism_us_58a118b6e4b094a129ec59af?section=us_religion

Blessings upon your week. 

“Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” MLK

Fifty years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King preached one of his most prophetic sermons at Riverside Church in NYC (where I was ordained). The sermon is entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”   Below is a summary of excerpt from this sermon where he focuses on the triple evils of poverty, racism, and militarism. 

It is a great question for our times, as next Friday, Jan 20th, we inaugurate Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. We live in a time when we cannot take democracy or our deepest moral convictions for granted. 

We have so much to learn from the wisdom of those who worked tirelessly in the black civil rights movement in this country and from leaders like Dr King, who in turn, derived his wisdom from the teachings of Gandhi and Jesus.  

This Sunday, join us as we come together widening the circle of community, to gain strength for the journey together.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

TRIPLE EVILS 

The Triple Evils of POVERTY, RACISM and MILITARISM are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the Beloved Community. When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils. To work against the Triple Evils, you must develop a nonviolent frame of mind as described in the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” and use the Kingian model for social action outlined in the “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change.”

Some contemporary examples of the Triple Evils are listed next to each item:

Poverty – unemployment, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, infant mortality, slums…

“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty … The well off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.”

Racism – prejudice, apartheid, ethnic conflict, anti-Semitism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, ageism, discrimination against disabled groups, stereotypes…

“Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life. It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission. It is the absurd dogma that one race is responsible for all the progress of history and alone can assure the progress of the future. Racism is total estrangement. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group.”

Militarism – war, imperialism, domestic violence, rape, terrorism, human trafficking, media violence, drugs, child abuse, violent crime…

“A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war- ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This way of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Source: “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Boston: Beacon Press, 1967.