The lectionary’s suggested Hebrew lesson for this week comes from the book of the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 62, verses 1-5. If we extend this passage one additional verse, then the periscope is bookended by the prophet’s announcements to not cease to remind God of God’s promise of redemption.
The opening verse begins with the prophet declaring, “For Zion’s sake I won’t keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I won’t sit still until her righteousness shines out like a light, and her salvation blazes like a torch.” Then in verse 6, the prophet again states, “Upon your walls, Jerusalem, I have appointed sentinels. Continually, all day and all night, they won’t keep silent. You who call on the LORD, don’t rest” (CEB).
As we prepare to honor the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by celebrating Dream Week this week, this text serves as an appropriate reminder of the continued need for relentless pleading. While we Christians believe that Isaiah’s pleas have been answered and God’s promise of redemption fulfilled in the form and nature of Jesus Christ, the pleas of the Rev. Dr. King for the fulfillment of the promise of equality for all people remain unachieved.
The call to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, and to set free the oppressed didn’t begin with the Rev. Dr. King, but rather began with the ancient prophets, like Elijah and Isaiah. Preaching in his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus made it clear this was his call as well. The Rev. Dr. King, Mother Theresa, and Bishop Romero are contemporary voices that we associate with this call, which is now our responsibility to continue.
The torch has been passed to us. We are now the ones “to not keep silent, to not sit still, to plead all day and all night, to not rest.” We are now the ones “to bring good news to the poor... to proclaim release to the captives” and to plead for “the oppressed to be set free” (Luke 4:18 NRSV). We are now the ones who are to be the voice of the voiceless, to be relentless in the pursuit of civil rights and to never cease in our efforts to achieve the promise of equality for all people.
Here is a list of the Dream Week events taking place in our community.
Saturday, January 19th – Peace Walk 10 am (begins and ends at First UM Church, Market St.) followed by a Musical Celebration.
Sunday, January 20th – Alternatives to Violence Workshop 3 pm at Christ Episcopal Church, Mulberry St.
Monday, January 21st – MLK Day of Service Project 9 am at the Lycoming College Recreation Center.
Tuesday, January 22nd – “Trust Across Generations” Roundtable Discussion 6:30 pm at City Alliance Church, Elmira St.
Thursday, January 24th – “An Evening with Damon Young” 7 pm at Lycoming College’s Clarke Chapel.
-The Rev. Bradley Walmer, Pastor, New Covenant United Church of Christ, Williamsport.