As humans, we’ve made belonging more complicated than God ever intended. We’ve created closed circles in which membership depends upon rules such as ability, sex, culture, race, and even smaller circles that exclude based on unspoken rules such as physical appearance, zip code, socioeconomic status, and countless others. We have found endless ways to exclude others in attempt to satisfy our need for belonging. However, when we follow Jesus, we don’t need all the rules. With Jesus, we all belong, all the time. And if we continually seek to allow Jesus to be the driving force in our lives, when it comes to who should be allowed in our circles, we only have one rule: love one another.
In the final lines of his final book before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. pleads:
“This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.”
To achieve the latter, he asserts, will require “an all embracing and unconditional love for all men.”
He then goes on to share from the First Epistle of Saint John:
“Let us love one another: for love is of God: and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us."
If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., today let us remember the justice that love demands. Let us choose to leave openings in our circles within the Day School, as well as our circles outside the Day School. Let us leave openings for those who may think differently, look differently, speak differently. Openings for those who wear different clothes, carry different burdens, tell different stories. Let us always welcome our brothers and sisters into our circles with love.
I will end with words Wil McCall, HP Pres Pastoral Fellow, prayed in a service Sunday morning:
As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy some 51 years after his passing; racism, sexism, class and culture wars seem to persist… So many of our problems with others persist because we don’t know one another…Dear Lord I ask that you please give us enough patience to be in relationship with someone who is not like us long enough to have the same definitions and equal desire to live in a way that brings justice, equality, power and love to others….Please give us a mind to love in ways that bring benefit to others. Dear Lord help us to love always in all the ways you call us to love. We pray all this in your Son Jesus’ name.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, my friends!