Reflection - January 17, 2017

By Darren McClellan

published 1/17/2017
Dear Friends,
In what I am certain will be a week of political maneuvering and ideological contrast, how grateful I was to gather with my family this Sunday to worship at Dauphin Way UMC to hear from the Lay Leader of the Mobile District, Deaconess Clara Ester.  With prophetic voice, Clara recalled her final moments with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a young college student in Memphis, TN.  An immediate witness to the tragedy of his assassination, it was Clara who physically applied pressure to his wound in the hope of preserving his life.  Now, as a continued witness to this “foot soldier for justice” she serves well to preserve the drumbeat of Dr. King’s legacy.  I could not help but notice the way in which my children hung on her every word.

Yesterday afternoon my family and I sat on the back porch and read aloud portions of Dr. King’s Letter from A Birmingham Jail to each other.  I have personally read it many times and found it compelling (if not haunting), though this was the first time I had sought to share it with the next generation of my own household.  As I suspected it held new meaning for me to hear these words from my eldest,

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.  Never again can we afford to with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea.  Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an outsider in this country.

Every four years in America, we celebrate the inauguration of a new presidential term just a few days after the observance of Dr. King’s enduring memory. While the stage is being set for the promise of a new day in our nation’s capital, the historic cry for freedom still rings in our ears.  Every four years, Dr. King’s message of uncompromising love for all creates an interesting subtext for the transition of power.  Every four years, Dr. King’s dignified model of persistent, nonviolent opposition to the reality of social injustice serves as a plumb line by which the policies of a future administration shall be compared.
What a week this is!  Lord, have mercy!  Some may argue that the juxtaposition of these two events is merely a coincidence within our national calendar.  I, on the other hand, suspect that the Lord God may be messing with us...and with good reason.

Like you, I am praying fervently for the good of our nation and for its leaders in transition, some of whom I have had the honor of knowing personally.  And while I still believe that there are elements of heroism in our midst, I do honestly wonder what character qualities will prove to be of most value among our political leaders in the days ahead.  What will we choose to measure, who will we choose to serve, and why?

And lastly, will God raise up another prophet among us?  Is there one who is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the afflicted?  Any who are available to apply pressure to our societal wounds?  Will the righteousness of justice roll down to those who need it the most, or will this, in fact, be considered a conflict of interest?     

What role shall we, the church, the Body of Christ have to play?

I’ll conclude this reflection with the conviction of Dr. King as proclaimed on Christmas Eve 1967:

Yes, I am personally the victim of deferred dreams, of blasted hopes, but in spite of that I close today by saying I still have a dream, because, you know, you can’t give up in life.  If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all…

I have a dream that one day men will ride up and come to see that they are made to live together as brothers…and brotherhood will be more than a few words at the end of a prayer, but rather the first order of business on every legislative agenda….I still have a dream today that one day justice will roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.  I still have a dream today that in our state houses and city halls men (and women) will be elected to go there who will do justly and love mercy ad walk humbly with their God…

I still have a dream that with this faith we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism…It will be a glorious day.

May God grant us this glorious day!

How about this week?
In His Mercy,