A SCRIPTURE REFLECTION ON THE REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING
“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” – I Samuel 3:10
If I had a nickel for every time in my own life and ministry that someone suggested, “maybe God’s trying to tell you something,” I’d be pretty rich. The unspoken implication is that in trying times or unexpected circumstances, it is important to listen for the lesson, to hear the voice of God within it. Dr. H. Beeker Hicks once said, “The task for those of us who are attracted to such thoughts is not to see God in our stories but to imagine our story in God’s, learning somehow to see our humanity in divinity.”
Samuel’s circumstances are not unfamiliar to us. His is a time in his nation’s history when someone is needed not only to bring a nation to its feet but also to bring a nation to its senses. And God calls Samuel.
This weekend, we will commemorate the life, legacy and dream of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While we know Dr. King to be a spiritual and moral giant whose life and witness served as a catalyst to change the world, his circumstances were not unlike young Samuel. Like Samuel, he was turned from a posture of “here I am,” to a new openness for greater service to God and humanity, “speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” When one reads Dr. King now, you can hear the echoes of being awakened again, again and again to the voice of God calling, of an emerging prophet who grew to understand that in his time and in our own, this is no time to sleep. If there is to be any sense of justice within this land, there can be no reason to rest.
What a timely message for the church today. God is calling, and rather than reacting with a posture of “here I am,” God is pressing us to be open, to say “speak Lord, for your servant is listening,” or more to the point, “I will go, Lord.”
Just after his retirement in 2015, Dr. Hicks said it like this: Awake [Church]. These are serious times. As serious as the Middle Passage, as serious as whips and chains and auction blocks, as serious as Montgomery, and Selma and the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and Trayvon Martin and all the others who were choked, or shot in the street, or left for dead because of those who were “standing their ground.”
My sense is that the church is slowly awakening to the serious times in which we find ourselves living. For some, there is frustration that the church is moving too slowly and needs to afflict the comfortable more boldly for the cause of justice; while others are upset because the church has more boldly entered into the public square and it disturbs the sense of peace and comfort that “church” is, for so many of us, in a broken and hurting world.
Lutheran Christians know that we are a people of Law and Gospel, of two Kingdoms – one foot planted firmly in the divisive reality of this world, and the other planted in the promise of the kin-dom of heaven, by virtue of our baptism into Christ; thus, “church” and preaching, prayer and community should both comfort and challenge us as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the church is awakening; maybe in that which challenges us – a church moving too slowly, or tooboldly – maybe God’s trying to tell you something.
-The Rev. William Gohl – Bishop, Delaware/Maryland Synod, ELCA
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”
Some days, when we awaken, our soft life path is littered with joy like glittering gems along our way. All we have to do is breathe in and we have it, joy is ours for the taking. On other days, our gaze is met with dull jagged rocks that make our feet ache as we trudge the very same path. Make no mistake about it, this is still the Day that God has made. We must
learn to be grateful, even if for nothing more than having had the strength to make it through. We must believe that there is a God given purpose for each day as we travel our life journey and learn from both the joy and the pain. We can surely use the wisdom we gain to help another.
Our Need to Give
God’s Word is clear about our need to give and how we are to give. For example, in Exodus 23:16, God tells his people that they are to bring their best to the Lord. In Proverbs 3:9, he directs his people to give their firstfruits. In the writings from Paul, we read that we are to give on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2). So how does God react if we are not faithful in our giving? Through the words of the prophet Malachi, God
showed his displeasure to those who were depriving him of their tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8-9). Are you pleasing God through your attitude toward giving and what you give?
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, you are the source of all good things. Daily I receive your
tremendous love and mercy. Because you are a loving and giving God, I live with the assurance that you will never stop giving to me and caring for me. Change my heart so that I may become a loving and giving person. Lord, help me to give you my first and best. Amen.
PLAN FOR RETURN TO GATHERED WORSHIP
At it’s meeting on Wednesday, January 13, the Coming Home Team decided to continue with virtual worship until the beginning of Lent. This decision was made in light of the continued spike in Covid infections and the desire of the committee to be consistent in our decision making and concern for the health of our members and staff. We will continue to record and post our worship service on Facebook and Youtube. Ash Wednesday is February 17. Watch for details of our Lenten worship plan and scheduling later this month and in February issues of The First Chronicles
PROJECT THRIVE UPDATE
Thanks to those of you who have participated in the congregational meetings this week hosted by the Project Thrive Team. Some wonderful stories about the history of First Lutheran Church and the blessings that our community of faith has brought to its members have been shared. There is one more opportunity to join in and that is this Saturday, January 16th at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will last approximately 60 minutes and will begin with an inspirational video recounting the history and people of First Lutheran. To sign up, go to the Sign-Up Genius link here or contact Kristen Hansen at email@example.com. A Zoom link will be sent to your email address. But hurry, there is only a few hours left until the last scheduled session. By participating you will help to advance the call process for our new Senior Pastor.
ROOM IN THE INN
Like everything in 2020, Room in the Inn will look different this year. First Lutheran will not be opening the church for guests, but we are looking for volunteers to help at the RITI Central Shelter. First Lutheran plans to volunteer to feed up to 20 guests (has been much lower than that) at RITI campus on the below Mondays:
February 15 – need food and overnight volunteer
March 15 – need overnight volunteer only
If you are willing to provide food or have any questions, please contact the church office at 615-256-7580
Blessings on your stewardship journey!
Next Weeks Readings
Jonah 3: 1-5, 10
Psalm 62: 5-12
Please contact the office or come by if you would like a copy of “CHRIST IN OUR HOME’ devotional for January, February, March 2021.