Above: William Lloyd Garrison
Image Source = Library of Congress
Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-10320
Faith and Grace
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2017, and THURSDAY, JANUARY 5, 2017
O God our redeemer, you created light that we might live,
and you illumine our world with your beloved Son.
By your Spirit comfort us in all darkness, and turn us toward the light of Jesus Christ our Savior,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
–Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 21
The Assigned Readings:
Exodus 3:1-5 (January 4)
Joshua 1:1-9 (January 5)
Psalm 72 (both days)
Hebrews 11:23-31 (January 4)
Hebrews 11:32-12:2 (January 5)
Give the king your justice, O God,
and your justice to the king’s son;
that he may rule your people righteously
and the poor with justice;
that the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,
and the little hills bring righteousness.
He shall defend the needy among the people
and shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.
–Psalm 72:1-4, Book of Common Worship (1993)
The assigned readings for these days tell us of Biblical heroes of faith, from Moses to Joshua son of Nun to Rahab the prostitute–quite an assortment! I perceive no need to repeat their stories today, for the Bible does that better than I can. And I have other matters on my mind.
If I were to amend the hall of fame of faith in the Letter to the Hebrews, part of my addition would read as follows:
By faith abolitionists challenged racial chattel slavery in the United States. By faith Harriet Tubman risked life and limb to help her people, who called her “Moses.” By faith Sojourner Truth spoke out for the rights of women and African Americans alike, as did William Lloyd Garrison. By faith Frederick Douglass challenged racism and slavery with his words, deeds, and very existence.
By faith members of subsequent generations challenged racial segregation. These great men and women included A. Philip Randolph, Charles Hamilton Houston, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bayard Rustin, Vernon Johns, and Martin Luther King, Jr. They challenged the United States to confront its hypocrisy, to live up more closely to its stated ideals, and to guarantee civil rights. By faith Thurgood Marshall fought the good fight in courts for decades. By faith brave students, supported by their courageous parents and communities, integrated schools with hostile student bodies and administrators.
By faith Nelson Mandela confronted Apartheid and helped to end it. By faith he encouraged racial and national reconciliation as a man and as a President.
All of these were courageous men and women, boys and girls. There is no room here to tell their stories adequately. And the names of many of them will fade into obscurity with the passage of time. Some of their names have faded from collective memory already. But they were righteous people–giants upon whose shoulders we stand. They were agents of divine grace, which transformed the world, making it a better place.
May the light of God, incarnate in each of us, shine brightly in the darkness and leave the world–if only one “corner” of it at a time–a better place. May we cooperate with God, for grace is more about what God does than what we do. We ought to work with God, of course. Doing so maximizes the effects of grace. But grace will win in the end. That is wonderful news!
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JULY 24, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF THOMAS A KEMPIS, SPIRITUAL WRITER
THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN BOSTE, GEORGE SWALLOWELL, AND JOHN INGRAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS