Carrying the Fierce Urgency Forward: The Intersection of History and Future
By: Rev'd Dr. Johnny Jeffords
For this Lent, our focus has been upon activating our faith as a deepening of our witness, both personal and corporate. It is through the lens of the 50th anniversary of the death of Rev’d Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his words, originally meant to confront and inspire, that we’ve been able to ground ourselves ever more deeply in the mission of justice. This justice, grounded deeply in a biblical faith, informs our path this Lenten season.
It is my prayerful hope that you understand “the fierce urgency of now” is not trapped in history of the late 1960’s. It’s as relevant and necessary today as ever. And who but the people of God, grounded deeply in a biblical faith, is there to help carry the mission forward.
As I announced last Sunday morning, we are honored to welcome Rev’d Dr. James Lawson to preach at St. John’s on April 8. Jim Lawson is a retired United Methodist clergyperson who was part of MLK’s team. It was Jim’s relationship with MLK that brought King to Memphis during the sanitation workers’ strike in 1968. At the time, Jim was the pastor of Centenary Methodist Church on E. McClemore. Rev’d Lawson is credited with gleaning the tenets of non-violent resistance from Gandhi and bringing that to MLK as they coordinated their efforts during the Civil Rights Movement. United Methodist Communications produced a video about Rev’d Lawson, and I commend it to you for your further awareness of who Jim is and the incredible mark he has made across the years. I know that the Sunday after Easter is traditionally “Low Sunday.” Please do all you can to be present.
And then there’s this.
In commemoration of the launch of MLK50 week, St. John’s will be welcoming Rev’d Jesse Jackson into our worship on Easter Sunday. Rev’d Jackson will speak during our Easter Celebration. When asked if I was open to having him come, my response was that I’m not willing to give up my pulpit on Easter Sunday, but I’m willing to share. This opportunity came to us by way of our networked United Methodist connections in Chicago. After conversation and exploration, I agreed to extend the invitation. Given the logistics of Easter Day and the expected number of people involved, we are moving our Easter Brunch and Egg Hunt up 30 minutes to begin at 9:00am and conclude by 10:00am.
We’re moving toward the latter part of Lent. I call you attention to the worship schedule for Holy Week and invite you to engage it at every opportunity. With these two unexpected opportunities, together with the March from the Cathedral to City Hall on April 7, and United Methodist Day at the National Civil Rights Museum on April 8, from 1:00-5:00pm, we are given powerful ways to walk into the season of Resurrection with renewed awareness of the what discipleship means, what discipleship looks like.
Come be part of all of it. Bring someone with you.
Grace and Peace.