Last Sunday, the gospel reading in the lectionary was Matthew 4:12-23. And here Jesus quotes the words of the prophet Isaiah who spoke of one who would walk the ground of Galilee — this Messiah who would bring liberation to all people.
"the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
And so we consider this light — the light of epiphanies. The light of revelation. The light of repentance. The light that opens blind eyes and causes us to see. The light that breaks the heavy yoke of oppression and brings liberation. And as followers of Jesus, we ask ourselves, How do we receive and reflect this light of love in the world?
Last week we celebrated Martin Luther King Day and his dream that I believe was God’s dream — that one day the light of love would shine, that (in his own words), "in some not too distant tomorrow, the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty."
And yet, as you know, while there has been some progress since MLK’s death, the seeds of hatred still persist. Racism, injustice and oppression are still rampant. And so we remember King’s words.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
And so as a community, we want to embody LOVE here in our places and in our neighborhood. And part of what that means is loving across the divides of class, culture, gender, abilities and race. We are called to love our neighbor, and yes, even our enemy. And so part of my vision for this community is that we would begin to dismantle white supremacy —that we would own our own stories, that we would have hard and difficult conversations about power and privilege, and that we would work to turn and to repent from the ways in which we are complicit with the its evil structures.
Dr. King said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
And so as a community, we want to find ways here in our neighborhoods to not be silent but to fight for justice and to co-create a new community. My dream is that we would be a multi-cultural community, welcoming everyone with all different abilities, the rich and poor, old and young, brown and white, straight and queer, married and single, reflecting the beautiful diversity of our neighborhood and community. Reflecting the picture we see in Revelations where every tribe and every nation are worshipping together as the beloved community.
Jesus is our Great Light who overcomes the darkness of hatred with love. Jesus has called us to do the same, saying, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. [Matthew 5:14]
I pray you remember these words as you go to work and care for your families, neighbors and friends...
You are the light of the world.
by Jessica Ketola