Submitted by Jan on Tue, 17/01/2017 – 10:24
Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Year A (2016-2017)
Bible Book: Isaiah
Chapter: 9
Verse: 1 – 9

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.

I am writing this reflection on Martin Luther King Day. He would have celebrated his 88th birthday. He may still have been alive and perhaps we would have known more of this enigmatic man. However, we remember his actions, his soaring rhetoric and his vision of equality, humanity and justice. This vision came out of his deep faith and desire to follow Jesus, the God incarnate, our brother walking with us. This path has power, especially for those who dwell in deep darkness.

Dr. King was not God, like me he often fell short but he basked in God’s Light and followed Jesus. In our time and in our age what does that mean for me? Here in the “Great White North” it is dark a good deal of the day – dwelling in darkness is what we do. We try to get out and enjoy the pleasure of the snow and cold but by about 5:30 it is time to be indoors, sitting in front of a fire and eating hearty meals. However, many of us, myself included, are sad. For me dwelling in darkness brings out my demons. I remember my failures and my sins, the times I have failed to love God and others. I look at the world and my sadness becomes despair and I sink into a black hole. Yet the “Great Light” has come, the Light in whom Dr. King put his faith and whose path lead to civil rights. In this darkness this example is galvanising; “follow Jesus”, “get up and bask in the Light and follow Jesus”.

In truth, I do not think I would have been involved with people living with HIV if I was not following Jesus. My natural inclination is to retreat from conflict and confrontation. It is to protect what is mine and everyone else be damned. During this week Donald Trump will be inaugurated. He came to power promising to protect what is his and promising an America where there is no fear, no sadness and no despair. He promised that he would be the light in the darkness, the rescuer and the saviour. This is a lie. The Light and the Saviour has been seen and is shining and, despite my own fear, sadness and despair I must follow it. Like Dr. King, my inheritance is an unjust world and a fearful world but it is not a dark world. There are beacons of light, people who walk with us and there work to do. Some of that work is to simply bask in the Light and rest in the embrace of Jesus and some of that work is to get up and stand up to the forces of fear, bigotry and hatred.

I still remember when we treated HIV positive people with fear and suspicion. I was afraid that I would get infected but in my darkness there was Light. There were people who followed Jesus who said we are all human, that HIV was not a death knell, that we could fight and win against our fear. Thus, I challenge us all to listen to Dr. King’s “I have a Dream Speech”. He called us from “the dark and desolate valley of segregation into the light of racial justice”.

To think about: The challenge: what is your dark and desolate valley, what do you fear most and how will we all follow Jesus into the Light of the Kingdom where every person is beloved by God and by each other.

Listen to the speech

Text of the full speech

Author: Michael, V (Ms)
Language: English