Who We Are
“Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men and women willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 1963
Along with several other parishioners, last weekend I attended Washington Hebrew Congregation’s dinner and Shabbat to honor the memory of Dr. King. Rev. Jim Quigley was a participant in the service. It was something we will long remember.
Shabbat candles blessed, readings in Hebrew, hijab-garbed Muslim girls singing America the Beautiful, and a fiery Christian preacher—wow. All of us were there to hear again the prophetic words of MLK and be re-energized.
Dr. William Barber, a mountain of a man of God, told us we must know who we are in times like these. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about who I am in these times. In quiet reflection with no second-guessing: I’m a Christian, a wife and mother, a writer, a survivor, a listener, a singer, a caregiver, a leader, a friend, and an elder with not a whole lot of years left.
Who would you say you are?
Dr. Barber had us on our feet as he asked us to act on our heritage of faith and use who we are to make the world what God intends it to be – “By faith, we are the moral guardians of our society.” That means I must, by faith, press forward as a leader and caregiver to show radical love, and that I must listen and write as if a just and compassionate world depends on it. And so on. Acting today is not too soon; by my own account, my time is of the essence. It still takes my breath away that Martin Luther King was younger than each of my children when he was killed. And if that isn’t a message to live faithfully, powerfully into who we are right now, I don’t know what is.
In our parish, we have such an amazing range of gifted people. There are no small gifts: cooks are busy providing nutritious soups; drivers give rides; quiet, prayerful folks hold up countless others in prayer. Last Wednesday, the lawyers among us learned from KIND how they might help unaccompanied immigrant children so that they don’t have to appear in court alone. Who we are counts. God made us this way, with some help from our parents, and we are obliged to create the changes we pray for. When we pray “thy Kingdom come,” we do so with the imperative that it is up to us.
Let us truly be the co-workers with God that Martin imagined and modeled. Buckle up. We have much to accomplish.
Who are you? What difference will you make?