Guest column by Jim CastroLang
The lights of Christmas are dimming and we are faced with ice-cold realities in its aftermath. Will Christians choose the revolution that Jesus birthed into the world? Actually, this revolution burst on the scene at Creation. From birth through death to resurrection, Jesus came to remind us in concrete ways what is possible for us in this universe when we live to the full capacity of our humanity empowered by divine love. Yet fear pulls us away from the Manger and the answers that only love brings.
In a few days, we will celebrate the national holiday in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He will be lauded for his civil rights work and especially the effectiveness of his commitment to non-violent direct action to protest injustices from racial prejudice, to poverty and class divide, unjust wars and more. This honor is well deserved. But, the foundation for all of this was his Christian faith and his central job as Pastor and preacher of the Gospel. In this time of rising hatred and cultural turmoil – in this time of nasty rhetoric and rising protests – it is the preaching of Martin Luther King Jr that reminds me what is true and important.
On Sunday, Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 205 N Maple in Colville, I will re-enact his sermon “Love Your Enemies” preached to his congregation at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on Nov. 17, 1957. Concerning Jesus command to ‘Love Your Enemies’, King says, “Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization.” Never more true than now!
Our politics has exposed our divide and alienated us from one another. Our Christian Churches are divided from within and between churches. Our judgments across religions too often expose our lack of love. Recently, the Upper Columbia Human Rights Coalition (stood against White Supremacy in the 1990’s) has re-formed because of fears of growing hatred. My church has experienced such hate coming our way.
Whether you normally go to church or even have clear faith in God, you are welcome to join us to honor Martin Luther King Jr and to commit ourselves to non-violent direct action toward fighting injustice and loving our enemies. While the ways of the world teach us to fight violence with violence, the ways of Jesus that King put into practice fights hate and violence with love and non-violence.
This is no fantasy. This is the true answer to our problems. This is why I follow Jesus. This is why I am proud to be able to set my preaching aside on Jan. 15 and honor this great man, Martin Luther King Jr. Please join us as we strive toward love.
Rev. Jim CastroLang is the pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ, Colville.