“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So, when Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies- or else? The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing wars-must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation”
(Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).
Spoken more than 40 years ago, these words still ring out today. As we watched the violence on Epiphany Day in Washington, D.C., as we heard the vitriolic speech spiral throughout the last week, as we listen to reports that there is more of a descent into darkness and violence planned for the coming days, we lean on Dr. King’s words, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Dear church, the world around us may demand “an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth,” but it shall not be so among us. We know that there is a still more excellent way: love. Is it a coincidence that our national remembrance of Dr. King falls into the midst of all this fervor? No. Not just a coincidence; a Holy Coincidence. Because this is our chance to listen to the Holy Spirit and be the people that God has called us to be. People who call out hurt and violence and fear and hate – who call sin, “sin” – and then proclaim the transforming power of love. This is our chance to join our voices together into a single proclamation of grace for this hurting world.
Please join me in this proclamation of love. On Sunday at 3:30pm is our Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration that the African Descent Lutheran Association (ADLA) produces and sponsors. Please bring your whole self to this worship: your fear, your anxiety, your prejudice, your privilege, your hopes, your anger, your love, your impatience. Bring all of it, all of you. Let this be a small but powerful witness to our willingness to be together, to love together, to stand together – to be the witness to love, grace and mercy that we are called to be.
Your sibling in Christ,
Laura Barbins, Bishop