Let’s Be Lifetime Learners
I wanted to share a book from my doctorate reading list.
“A Gift to Love: Sermons from strength to love and other preachings” by Martin Luther King. Jr. (2012). King the great a civil rights leader was first and always a pastor, as he states;
I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling, and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambition in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office, I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher (Forward X).
King’s theology as it appears on p. 88 “I do not pretend to understand all the ways of God or his particular timetable for grappling with evil. Perhaps if God dealt with evil in an overbearing way that we wish, he would defeat his ultimate purpose. We are responsible human beings, not blind automatons, persons, not puppets. By endowing us with freedom, God relinquished a measure of his own sovereignty and imposed certain limitations upon himself. If his children are free, they must do his will be a voluntary choice.” I noticed King speaks little to eternal life and focuses on what God’s children can do in the here and now, which makes perfect sense for social change and justice. King goes on to say that the Protestant Reformation “often emphasized a purely otherworldly religion which stresses the hopelessness of this world and calls upon the individual to concentrate on preparing their soul for the world to come” (p. 133). This reminds me that eternal life (a place in God’s kingdom to come) needs to be properly balanced with social issues of the present so that we are thinking of not only our salvation (future), but those around us in the present and especially those who are hurting, disenfranchised, marginalized folks (which transitions beautifully into his mutuality theology).
All men (people) are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be (p. Forward XV, 73).
All Saints’ Day, November 1
Daylight saving time ends, November 5
Veterans Day, November 11
Thanksgiving Day, November 23
Christ the King Sunday, November 26
Bounty of Thanks
We thank thee, Lord, for the glory of the late days and the excellent face of thy sun. We thank thee for good news received. We thank thee for the pleasures we have enjoyed and for those we have been able to confer. And now, when the clouds gather and the rain impends over the forest and our house, permit us not to be cast down; let us not lose the savor of past mercies and past pleasures; but, like the voice of a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memory survive in the hour of darkness. If there be in front of us any painful duty, strengthen us with the grace of courage; if any act of mercy, teach us tenderness and patience.—Robert Louis Stevenson
What’s your November?
For Davey Blackburn, a pastor in Indiana, one particular month has brought “the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.” He was born in November, moved to a new church in November 2011 and learned he’d be a father in November 2013. But two years later, in November 2015, Blackburn’s wife and unborn second child were murdered during a home invasion. Despite that painful tragedy, the pastor determined not to “let the enemy have a claim over November” or “steal the many beautiful memories I once held” about it. Since then, his church’s worship team recorded an album one November, he proposed to his second wife another November, launched a new ministry one November and welcomed another child the following November. That journey, Blackburn says, is evidence of God’s faithfulness to replace a spirit of despair with a garment of praise (see Isaiah 61:3). And it’s an important reminder for the holiday season, with all its memories and traditions. Just as God wants to heal and restore, Blackburn writes, “Your [deceased] loved one would not want your ‘November’ to haunt your memory forever.” Blackburn, author of the forthcoming book Nothing Is Wasted, says everyone has a November but can choose what to do with it. Instead of letting your November haunt, you can let God use it to heal.
Take time to Recharge
“Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31, NLT). Can you relate? Especially during the holidays, we’re “coming and going” so much that we often run out of steam. As an introvert, I learned an important lesson while navigating a busy graduation season for my son. I was happy to host a celebration for family and friends, but about 20 minutes into the party, fatigue clouded my spirit. My social battery was empty and desperately needed charging. I sought out my cousin — who “gets” me — and admitted I needed a break. He kindly replied, “Then go into another room and just be. We’ve got things covered.” I was heard and assured that it was okay to press pause. Even Jesus and his disciples sought privacy and rest. In what ways do you need a break today? Even if you’re an extrovert, how can you care for your whole self during the holiday rush? Pay attention and give yourself permission to proactively recharge your battery.
Three Thanksgiving Prayers
Dear Lord, we beg but one boon more: peace in the hearts of all men living, peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving. — Joseph Auslander
For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received. — Storm Jameson
O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. — William Shakespeare
Grateful for Grace
In this oneness, Jesus Christ is the Mediator, the Reconciler, between God and man. Thus he comes forward to man on behalf of God, calling for and awakening faith, love and hope, and to God on behalf of man, representing man, making satisfaction and interceding. Thus he attests and guarantees to God’s free grace and at the same time attests and guarantees to God man’s free gratitude. Karl Barth, The Humanity of God
November Mission of the Month: Veterans Path to Hope