For most of us this past week has been a roller coaster of emotions. The world seemed to drift closer and closer toward war. Policies and politics seemed to work to disenfranchise even more individuals who are in most need of our help and support. It is our duty as churches to raise our voices for those in need, those in harms way, and those disenfranchised individuals among us. Now is the time to live the Gospel.
Yet there are those who demand that the church remain silent. Many call on us to either support the unjust actions of our leaders or keep our mouths shut. As we near the memorial of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he reminds us in the words he wrote from his jail cell in Birmingham Alabama:
I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively.
More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.
We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
The time for the church to speak up against the actions of injustice is now. We must stand up for the message of the Gospel which is Good News for ALL people. Furthermore we must live the Gospel by helping those around us who need our support most.
Far too long we have ignored the poor and homeless among us. As churches we sit silently by while our government wages wars in our names. We share pictures of flag draped coffins as if that some how makes the sacrifice worthwhile.
Yet, we do nothing to actually stop the killing of our fellow human beings. I am not just talking about those who die on a far away battlefield. I am talking about those dying in our streets in the United States. Those who are dying everyday because of lack of medicine, lack of food, and because of homelessness. Drugs, guns, and lack of clean water and nutritious food is a rampant killer right here in our own streets.
Far too long the mainline churches have cried out that this is not a problem for the church to solve. They demand that our government take care of those in most need all while voting for politicians who campaign on the platform of taking that support from those very same people. And many of these faith leaders are far more concerned with the fame and glory that comes from supporting those politicians than living the Gospel they claim to preach.
Dr. King spoke of this too as he sat in jail:
But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.
All these years later, the church still sits in apathy of its calling. Too many people go without food and water. People are gunning down our children in the streets and in their schools. We are ripping families apart at our border. Our government drops bombs on innocent people while our children are sent to fight yet another senseless war. We continue to decide who should live and who should die based on their perceived worth or by their past mistakes or accomplishments.
As the Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers said last year at our Progressive Religious Coalition’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr service: “If not me, who. If not now, when. If not here, where. Dear Lord, grant us the fierce urgency of now.” Now is the time to speak up. This is the time to preach the Gospel of love, acceptance, and peace. It is time to become a mission to help those in need.
And Saint Francis Parish, like all of our fellow parishes and ministries in the Old Catholic Churches International, will remain silent no more. We will speak up and speak out. We will continue to help those most in need spiritually. And we will continue to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and advocate for their well-being at every opportunity. It is our belief that everyone should be treated equally. We don’t just say we believe in the inherent dignity of all people, we live it!
Because we understand Dr. King’s call to the fierce urgency of now.
Join us in our mission to be radically inclusive, welcoming and supportive of all people. Come live your Catholic faith today!
Please join us at the Progressive Religious Coalition of Augusta’s annual Why Dr. King Still Matters service on January 23, 2020 at 7:00 PM. The service will be held at the historic Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church at 605 Reynolds Street in Augusta, GA. Our keynote speaker this year will be the Rev. Dr. William Barber II.