January 16

Isaiah 9:1-4

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.” vs. 2

In August of 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech in front of a quarter million civil right marchers in which he laid out his dream of an end to racism and the beginning of freedom and equality in the United States. Today, on the day set aside to honor King, portions of that “I Have a Dream” speech will be heard again as people take time to remember his prophetic vision. His words of hope remind us of passages from Isaiah, one of his sources of inspiration, and describe the deep desire of captive peoples to be free. We can be grateful for his passionate oratory and his commitment to nonviolent resistance. Because of his leadership and of others in his mold we’ve made progress in dealing with every kind of racial injustice–the people who walked in darkness have indeed seen a great light. But there’s still work to be done! Laws have been passed, inequities have been addressed, but people’s hearts can’t be changed by legislation. There’s systemic racism that is difficult for people to acknowledge or confess–the demons of the past continue to make themselves known–sometimes at the most unexpected and embarrassing times. Thank God for prophets like Dr. King and Isaiah who are willing to speak truth to power even at the risk of their lives.

Thought for the Day: What are signs of systemic racism?

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