[You can watch a video recording of this Call to Worship at the end of this text. To see the entire service, click here.]
Imagine growing up as a black person in apartheid South Africa, knowing that your tin shack home could be crushed by a bulldozer any time at the whim of the white government, knowing your door could be smashed down by police any night and your spouse or parents or siblings pulled out of their beds and dragged into the dark street never to be seen again.
Imagine how it felt then for ten thousand people like you to march in the street singing those powerful freedom songs. Imagine how it would feel with the Spirit rising up within you to defy all that could intimidate and oppress you when you were alone. The movement of that Spirit might get you killed, but it might also get your people freedom, equality and the life that truly is life, and it would be worth losing everything for that, losing life to gain life.
What would it take to win? Nelson Mandela came to understand through the lens of his long suffering that it would take far more than a few reforms, it would take a cultural change of consciousness across all races and sectors of society as well as a change of systems and laws.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said toward the end of his short life, “The black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws—racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. It is exposing the evils that are rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced.”
Jesus looked around and saw the suffering of his people and felt compassion. He saw that they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd vulnerable to ravenous wolves. His message to them was that the realm of God was very close, the realm that would free them and give them mercy and justice and abundant life, and they could be part of that realm right now and help establish it on earth, but it would take a radical reconstruction not only of society but of humanity’s way of thinking and seeing the world.
The way Jesus showed was both a spiritual path leading to oneness with all creation and a movement for social change leading to justice and well-being for all. Moses and the Hebrew prophets had begun it, and Jesus added much to it, just as the Rev. Dr. King did in his day.
In today’s sermon we will look closely at Jesus’ instructions for the inner path needed to do the outer work, but for now, we need to ask ourselves some all important, life or death questions, because our society, our world and our lives are at stake.
Do we believe that Jesus was right, that we are truly almost there, that the realm of God can be a reality on this earth, that just ahead, if we will help, humanity can become a society that lives by the laws of love of neighbor and the Golden Rule, that treats all life as sacred with systemic compassion for all?
And if we believe that is possible, are we willing to be part of the movement to establish that realm on earth? Are we willing to follow the spiritual path of inner transformation and the political path of social transformation that Jesus calls us to take? Are we willing to give up our old life and make our new life entirely about this movement?
If so, where is the movement happening today? Where do you see people following the twofold path of inner transformation and social change? How can you be a part of that? What aspect calls to you? What skills, gifts and resources do you have to contribute?
Will you say yes and commit your all to this cause?
Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the overseer of the harvest to send out laborers into the field.” You have the next stage of your labor within you, like a robin’s egg waiting to crack open and the fledgling emerge.
Listen to Mel Goertz’s haiku for this week:
God sees the moon.
God sees the tree.
God sees the bird that’s nesting in me.
Let us worship together continuing on with this service.