by Pastor Audrey
“I despise your festivals,” says God through the prophet Amos (chapter 5, per NRSV).
“I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt-offerings and grain-offerings, I will not accept them… Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
In these words shared through the prophet Amos, we get the message: God isn’t always happy with the ways we try to worship, or build community, because we too often forget the core of what God wants us to do: create communities that are just and loving and righteous.
At the beginning of this week, we remembered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of the great insights this preacher shared with us was the value of Beloved Community – real community, righteous and just community, community that walks people through the hard times as well as the happy times. Dr. King saw that in too many places in our country, we were falling short of the promise, of what community people deserved, of what beloved community God wanted for us. Racial intolerance, systemic discrimination, hateful violence – these are incompatible with a community worthy of God’s blessing. So in some of his famous speeches, Dr. King quoted the prophet Amos. Here in the United States, as in ancient Israel, the cry was needed: “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
What does that greater, Beloved Community look like? On the Washington DC monument dedicated to Dr. King, he is quoted as saying this:
“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” (1967, Georgia)
The Beloved Community Dr. King dreamed of for us was diverse, fair, deep, and beautiful.
Dr. King was a great man, who changed our nation – changed the whole world. But perhaps what’s most remarkable, is that he was only one man: he was one man out of many who together made a movement. When we remember Dr. King, I hope we are remembering also the millions of nameless people who made the civil rights movement possible – people of every race and tribe and class and creed. Because the Beloved Community that Dr. King articulated so well is not made of just isolated leaders, but the many of us who each have that same power to change the world – by changing our small part of it.
Every one of us is called to help shape our communities and help them reach their full potential, to the greatest expressions of love and justice they can offer. It’s not just up to leaders or officials – it’s all of our jobs to embody Beloved Community. It’s up to each one of us to come together and move hearts and minds toward justice. How are you helping create Beloved Community today?
Beloved Community holds us each in love and care, through the dramatic moments of our histories, and in the quieter, more common moments when we still need love and care. In Paul’s words to his friends in Corinth, he begins his letter with kind words affirming his love for them through the daily struggles of ministry:
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus.”
Our lives day by day, and our life together, form an ever-flowing stream of moments that are each chances for us to help pour out that righteousness and justice into the future. Moment by moment we are called to form Beloved Community, here and now in this day and age.
With the spirit of our ancestors in faith, and the fellowship of friends today, and the grace of God always, may we embrace the legacy of our calling, to Beloved Community, today and always.