Thursday, January 20, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Sermon: Out of Date

Micah 6: 6-8
Revelation 21: 1-5a

One thing I’ve taken to doing since I started noticing that having young kids is tough on the knees of your jeans (I seem to only have a pair for a year or so before they get worn out in the knees) is to shop for jeans at the Salvation Army. At $1 per pair of jeans, I just can’t seem to entertain the notion that paying 30 or 40 times that for a pair that is going to last Just as long is a good idea.

One thing became apparent to me the last time last time I was in the salvation army on Brookside in Tulsa. I noticed that there were several long rows of women’s jeans, but only a quarter of a rack or so of men’s jeans.

I asked the check out clerk if they were expecting a shipment of men’s jeans anytime soon, and pointed out that there was quite a disparity between the men’s and women’s selections, and she laughed and said “you guys just keep your clothes forever!”

I suppose that’s partially true—and something else I’ve noticed is that women’s jeans seem to go out of style a lot faster than the plain cut of men’s jeans. I wonder why that is?

I also came across this list about all the things that would be unknown to a baby born in 2011.

Yes, things go out of date. And in the scriptures it seems to reiterate this trend. In the passage from Revelation it says that “Behold, the old things have passed away, and I am making all things new.”
You see, in God’s opinion, There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Those things are out of date, according to God, they are like a landline telephone or a encyclopedia Britannica.

God has a new order of things, and it includes justice and peace.

The way we are to honor this new order of things too, is a bit different than what we might expect. The prophets Amos and Micah both speak to God getting a bit fed up with sacrifices and purity practices, and instead craving the deep and lasting justice that might roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream. In Micah, it is put quite plainly for us, He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

The out of date character of the pretenses we so often substitute for the real thing weren’t lost on Martin Luther King Jr., and if you listen to his “I have a dream” speech on the Washington mall, you can hear it clearly.

He states that the leaders of the civil rights movement will “never be satisfied” while injustice prevails.

You see, he had glimpsed a vision of the New Kingdom that John alludes to in the revelation passage. He had faith in what was possible, and so the present situation he found himself was clearly and definitely out of date. Only, he saw the out of date character of his own present situation not as a slightly out of style pair of jeans or even as a land-line connection in a world of DSL and wireless connections—the injustice that he witnessed and had perpetrated on him was more like the out of date quality of a gallon of milk down on the bottom shelf of the fridge with an inch of milk left at the bottom of the container that you leave there on vacation and by the time you get home the gas in the carton has expanded the plastic container, and the lid pops off with the pressure, and it is just putrid. You try not to breathe in and you have to GET RID OF IT!

Thank God he stood up and decried the injustice, and said NO! the injustice we feel is not just something we can tolerate, it is like that disgusting milk. It has to be thrown away!

injustice and racism and sexism are not vestiges of a bygone era, like rental stores or watches or dial up internet. They’re not just inconveniences. They are sin, and as repulsive to God as that out of date milk.

We can either treat them like inconveniences, or as people of God we can rise up and confront them for the disgusting rotton filth that they are.

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