What do you remember happening in 1983? (Not a trick question – I just want to stir up your memory a bit.) For me it was a very significant year. I graduated from seminary, received my first call (and thankfully – not my last one) at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Georgia and then to top it all off, Karen and I exchanged our vows at Evergreen Presbyterian in Memphis, her home church. So what a great year it was for us!

Here are a few other things which happened in 1983: Mario Bros. game debuts, Hurricane Alicia hits the Texas coast killing 21, the United States invades Grenada, President Ronald Reagan proposes the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the first mobile phones were introduced to the public by the Motorola Company, the U.S Embassy was bombed in Beirut, Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space on the Space Shuttle Challenger and President Regan signed into law a bill creating a Federal Holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year, Dr. King would have celebrated his 93rd  birthday.  (His actually birthday is January 15th)  I’m not much on celebrations, but over the years I do acknowledge MLK day by pulling off my book shelf A Testament of Hope – The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr and I read (or re-read) one of his sermons, public addresses or essays. This year it was “A Time to Break Silence.” It was an address he gave at the Riverside Church in NYC exactly one year before his assassination. It was the first time he expressed opposition to the Vietnam War. The line which grabbed my attention simply reads, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” Yes, I experienced some discomfort in those seven words.  Because I know sometimes, my silence is deafening, especially when I know it will create tension and conflict, which is not what I like to do but sometimes it’s what needs to be done.

Starting tonight there will be a six week book study on Robert Jones’ book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. Robert Jones is the CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute and a leading scholar and commentator on religion and politics. It’s a challenging read and I’m guessing some of the conversation will be difficult but I also believe it will be helpful and healthy.  If you are interested you can attend in-person or by Zoom. Email Karen for login details. There is an unlimited number who can attend by Zoom.

Scripture Reading: James 1:19
“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;”

Reflection Questions:
What’s your favorite holiday and why?
What are the reasons a conversation about racism causes tension and conflict?
What helps you to listen better?

Prayer: Holy God, call me beloved as I make my way through this day. Let me be present and responsive to others, even as we disagree or challenge each other.  Let my anger dissipate and my desire for connection strengthen. Amen