This week’s reflection comes from
Rev. Imani N. Dodley
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem. Killing the prophets and the messengers that God has sent to you.” Luke 13:34
This week would have been the 68th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ordination. I wonder if the young Martin Luther, who had not yet received his doctorate in Systematic Theology or Nobel Peace prize would have taken those vows on February 25, 1948 if he had known all the things he would see and experience. Would Dr. King still have made the covenant before God and the congregation to “preach God’s Word, to be prepared in season and out of season, to correct, rebuke and encourage – with patience and careful instruction” knowing that he would face a litany of ludicrousness that half of us would not deal with as pastors!
From accusations of tax fraud, arrest, “bloody Sunday,” assaulted, arrested again, eulogies for those killed in the September 15 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church, wiretaps, arrested yet again and yes assassination, would Dr. King still have said yes to God? Let me be perfectly frank, I believe that I would have told those laying their hands on me at my ordination…
“get the h*@# out of here, I’m done! I don’t want to be the one that is a prophet, it’s bad enough being the messenger of God, prophets get killed! Look at what happened to Jesus! Look at what happened to King! And I am no Jesus! And I am no King!”
Jesus is weeping over what was once the Holy City. He was lamenting over Jerusalem that was so addicted to the violence and the refusal to care for those less fortunate from the widow to those stricken with illness. Jesus is despaired by the lack of their compassion for their fellow brother and sister. And the same is with King. I believe he wept over the issues of our country. From his opposition of the Vietnam War and leading thousands of protestors in support of the striking sanitation workers after two collectors were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck for economic equality. You can hear the lament in his voice when he says, “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through” (“I’ve been to the Mountaintop”).
But I am no Jesus! And I am no King!
Or am I…
As I look upon the city of Rochester, NY and the state of our world, I am grieved deeply around the availability and affordability of healthcare for most Americans. I am angry of our lack of response to those that are hungry and homeless. I am despaired by the level of crime and violence and how we don’t look at the issue of mass incarceration. I am confused about the way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S. and how the City of Rochester is the 5th in poverty in our country. I am disturbed that we haven’t figured out how to dismantle racism and address the issue of white privilege. Those are not issues that I had expected to have to deal with at my ordination. I wanted to have a church that was financially successful and without conflict within. I wanted the masses to come in and fill our pews while we all sang “Kumbayah” and we held hands and embodied Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” So let me be frank; Dammit – I wanted it to be easy and just happen. I don’t want to be a prophet. But maybe that’s just me.
But that’s the calling. For all of us. Whether we are ordained or the person in the pew. We are called to speak out against the injustices in the world. We are all called to be the hands and feet of Christ, making us like Jesus. We are called to move from chaos to community as King suggested, making us like King. I know how scary that is because we have seen the end results of both of their lives. The Truth is prophets are killed.
Yes, we have to remember the truth of them being killed and repent for those moments of lack of response to the issues and the people. That’s Lent.
BUT as Tony Campolo says, “Sunday is Coming” and as a
Resurrected people that Pray First, Walk Together and (to) Change Lives let us live in that truth during difficult realities and speak resurrection to those areas that need a prophet.