On the Edge

Sometimes a plan comes together. But the thoughts that had crossed my mind about MLK Sunday weren’t sticking. Something wasn’t quite right. I was unsettled. Praying. Searching, seeking, thinking. Listening. 

The obvious thing to do, in a predominantly white church concerned about racial (in)justice, is to invite a black man to preach the Sunday before the federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. One day a year, black men are in high demand for white pulpits. Maybe. 

I know some black men who have frequented New Covenant’s pulpit. I hope they might even count me as a friend. But to ask them would feel wrong, to treat them as a token rather than a teacher. Tempting perhaps, if I had no other ideas, but wrong. I didn’t want to go there. 

Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday is today. He would have been 90. Except that he was shot and killed at 39. Malcolm X was also 39 when he was shot and killed. Weird. Maybe everyone already knows that. History has never been my thing. But ordinary black men are still being shot and killed with alarming frequency. I am more comfortable in the pages of my Bible than in the pages of the newspaper. 

“Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
Mark 1:15(CEB)

But Jesus, what is God’s kingdom? Where is the overlap with King’s Beloved Community? If two thousand years ago was the time, what time is now? What is the good news, and how do we trust it? How is my heart and life being called to change? 

Back in November, there were a lot of speakers of color at the Christian Community Development Association conference. I was just trying to listen. And I knew that my comfort zone was not where I should stay. I heard that we needed to go. Instead of asking a black preacher to come to us. I needed to sit under the authority of a black man in his own pulpit. 

The idea of taking our whole church, en masse, to a predominantly black church this Sunday seemed preposterous. Or perfect. Or maybe just complicated. But when I hesitantly proposed the idea to someone who has been a member of both churches, it seemed right. And when I met with the pastor at Restoration Urban Ministries, we started getting excited. 

And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Mark 1:17-18(NASB)

Sometimes the call is unexpected. Jesus preaches to the crowds, and then invites individuals. Often we don’t know what following will look like. Sometimes I have to just leave my nets, the place of familiarity, and step out toward the voice that is calling. Where the other disciples might seem really different than us.

If you are in the C-U area, I invite you to join us this Sunday 11:00am at Restoration Church, where it will not be the most segregated hour in America. Who knows what we will learn when we are willing to go, listen to God speak through the black church, and be humble enough to be taught? And for the many who are spread across the country and the world, I invite you to listen to where the Lord might be calling you this Sunday. And to follow.

Bulletin: 1/13
Order of Service: 1/13
Sermon: Many Parts Form One Body, So it is With Christ

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