Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Christmas Sermon

This sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was given by him at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 1967, the last Christmas before he was killed.  His words speak my soul better than I could for myself, about the need for justice, peace, and love in this world.  And, that this world is you and me…………

This is long, but so worth it………

Peace, my dear friends and family.

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Dr. King first delivered this sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he served as co-pastor. On Christmas Eve, 1967, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired this sermon as part of the seventh annual Massey Lectures.

Peace on Earth…

This Christmas season finds us a rather bewildered human race. We have neither peace within nor peace without. Everywhere paralyzing fears harrow people by day and haunt them by night. Our world is sick with war; everywhere we turn we see its ominous possibilities. And yet, my friends, the Christmas hope for peace and good will toward all men can no longer be dismissed as a kind of pious dream of some utopian. If we don’t have good will toward men in this world, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own instruments and our own power. Wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the very destructive power of modern weapons of warfare eliminates even the possibility that war may any longer serve as a negative good. And so, if we assume that life is worth living, if we assume that mankind has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war?and so let us this morning explore the conditions for peace. Let us this morning think anew on the meaning of that Christmas hope: “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men.” And as we explore these conditions, I would like to suggest that modern man really go all out to study the meaning of nonviolence, its philosophy and its strategy.

We have experimented with the meaning of nonviolence in our struggle for racial justice in the United States, but now the time has come for man to experiment with nonviolence in all areas of human conflict, and that means nonviolence on an international scale.

Now let me suggest first that if we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone; no nation can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world. Now the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are all going to perish together as fools.

Yes, as nations and individuals, we are interdependent. I have spoken to you before of our visit to India some years ago. It was a marvelous experience; but I say to you this morning that there were those depressing moments. How can one avoid being depressed when one sees with one’s own eyes evidences of millions of people going to bed hungry at night? How can one avoid being depressed when one sees with ones own eyes thousands of people sleeping on the sidewalks at night? More than a million people sleep on the sidewalks of Bombay every night; more than half a million sleep on the sidewalks of Calcutta every night. They have no houses to go into. They have no beds to sleep in. As I beheld these conditions, something within me cried out: “Can we in America stand idly by and not be concerned?” And an answer came: “Oh, no!” And I started thinking about the fact that right here in our country we spend millions of dollars every day to store surplus food; and I said to myself: “I know where we can store that food free of charge? in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of God’s children in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and even in our own nation, who go to bed hungry at night.”

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half of the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

Now let me say, secondly, that if we are to have peace in the world, men and nations must embrace the nonviolent affirmation that ends and means must cohere. One of the great philosophical debates of history has been over the whole question of means and ends. And there have always been those who argued that the end justifies the means, that the means really aren’t important. The important thing is to get to the end, you see.

So, if you’re seeking to develop a just society, they say, the important thing is to get there, and the means are really unimportant; any means will do so long as they get you there? they may be violent, they may be untruthful means; they may even be unjust means to a just end. There have been those who have argued this throughout history. But we will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and ultimately you can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.

It’s one of the strangest things that all the great military geniuses of the world have talked about peace. The conquerors of old who came killing in pursuit of peace, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and Napoleon, were akin in seeking a peaceful world order. If you will read Mein Kampf closely enough, you will discover that Hitler contended that everything he did in Germany was for peace. And the leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace. Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.

Now let me say that the next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God. And so when we say “Thou shalt not kill,” we’re really saying that human life is too sacred to be taken on the battlefields of the world. Man is more than a tiny vagary of whirling electrons or a wisp of smoke from a limitless smoldering. Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such. Until men see this everywhere, until nations see this everywhere, we will be fighting wars. One day somebody should remind us that, even though there may be political and ideological differences between us, the Vietnamese are our brothers, the Russians are our brothers, the Chinese are our brothers; and one day we’ve got to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. But in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. In Christ there is neither male nor female. In Christ there is neither Communist nor capitalist. In Christ, somehow, there is neither bound nor free. We are all one in Christ Jesus. And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won’t exploit people, we won’t trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won’t kill anybody.

There are three words for “love” in the Greek New Testament; one is the word “eros.” Eros is a sort of esthetic, romantic love. Plato used to talk about it a great deal in his dialogues, the yearning of the soul for the realm of the divine. And there is and can always be something beautiful about eros, even in its expressions of romance. Some of the most beautiful love in all of the world has been expressed this way.

Then the Greek language talks about “philia,” which is another word for love, and philia is a kind of intimate love between personal friends. This is the kind of love you have for those people that you get along with well, and those whom you like on this level you love because you are loved.

Then the Greek language has another word for love, and that is the word “agape.” Agape is more than romantic love, it is more than friendship. Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men. Agape is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. Theologians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart. When you rise to love on this level, you love all men not because you like them, not because their ways appeal to you, but you love them because God loves them. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies.” And I’m happy that he didn’t say, “Like your enemies,” because there are some people that I find it pretty difficult to like. Liking is an affectionate emotion, and I can’t like anybody who would bomb my home. I can’t like anybody who would exploit me. I can’t like anybody who would trample over me with injustices. I can’t like them. I can’t like anybody who threatens to kill me day in and day out. But Jesus reminds us that love is greater than liking. Love is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men. And I think this is where we are, as a people, in our struggle for racial justice. We can’t ever give up. We must work passionately and unrelentingly for first-class citizenship. We must never let up in our determination to remove every vestige of segregation and discrimination from our nation, but we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege to love.

I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many sheriffs, too many white citizens’ councilors, and too many Klansmen of the South to want to hate, myself; and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country, and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, and we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”

If there is to be peace on earth and good will toward men, we must finally believe in the ultimate morality of the universe, and believe that all reality hinges on moral foundations. Something must remind us of this as we once again stand in the Christmas season and think of the Easter season simultaneously, for the two somehow go together. Christ came to show us the way. Men love darkness rather than the light, and they crucified him, and there on Good Friday on the cross it was still dark, but then Easter came, and Easter is an eternal reminder of the fact that the truth-crushed earth will rise again. Easter justifies Carlyle in saying, “No lie can live forever.” And so this is our faith, as we continue to hope for peace on earth and good will toward men: let us know that in the process we have cosmic companionship.

In 1963, on a sweltering August afternoon, we stood in Washington, D.C., and talked to the nation about many things. Toward the end of that afternoon, I tried to talk to the nation about a dream that I had had, and I must confess to you today that not long after talking about that dream I started seeing it turn into a nightmare. I remember the first time I saw that dream turn into a nightmare, just a few weeks after I had talked about it. It was when four beautiful, unoffending, innocent Negro girls were murdered in a church in Birmingham, Alabama. I watched that dream turn into a nightmare as I moved through the ghettos of the nation and saw my black brothers and sisters perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity, and saw the nation doing nothing to grapple with the Negroes’ problem of poverty. I saw that dream turn into a nightmare as I watched my black brothers and sisters in the midst of anger and understandable outrage, in the midst of their hurt, in the midst of their disappointment, turn to misguided riots to try to solve that problem. I saw that dream turn into a nightmare as I watched the war in Vietnam escalating, and as I saw so-called military advisors, sixteen thousand strong, turn into fighting soldiers until today over five hundred thousand American boys are fighting on Asian soil. Yes, I am personally the victim of deferred dreams, of blasted hopes, but in spite of that I close today by saying I still have a dream, because, you know, you can’t give up in life. If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream.

I have a dream that one day men will rise up and come to see that they are made to live together as brothers. I still have a dream this morning that one day every Negro in this country, every colored person in the world, will be judged on the basis of the content of his character rather than the color of his skin, and every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. I still have a dream that one day the idle industries of Appalachia will be revitalized, and the empty stomachs of Mississippi will be filled, and brotherhood will be more than a few words at the end of a prayer, but rather the first order of business on every legislative agenda. I still have a dream today that one day justice will roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream. I still have a dream today that in all of our state houses and city halls men will be elected to go there who will do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with their God. I still have a dream today that one day war will come to an end, that men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, that nations will no longer rise up against nations, neither will they study war any more. I still have a dream today that one day the lamb and the lion will lie down together and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. I still have a dream today that one day every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill will be made low, the rough places will be made smooth and the crooked places straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. I still have a dream that with this faith we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and good will toward men. It will be a glorious day, the morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy.

And goodwill toward……. EVERYONE.

My heart is so full of giving.  Now, mind you, I do not say that due to wanting to be patted on the back, or to pat myself.  It is just a fact.  I think about giving almost every waking moment.  To my family.  To my friends.  To Hannah’s dance teacher or babysitter or a coworker or the construction workers on the highway.

Seriously.

I feel such goodwill toward others; I want to understand their experiences, their lives, their challenges and joys.  I want to give to them to let them know that someone in the world cares, that not all of us are self-centered and unable to offer to someone of themselves.

Ubuntu, in a word. 

That word encompasses more than I could have ever imagined.  Like meeting Audrey, for me, the word, Ubuntu, puts to rest all of the parts of me that it seemed that others often could not understand.  The giving.  The loving.  The aching heart for those in pain, for those that grieve.  Tears of compassion.  Connection to people that I have never even met.  Some on the other side of the world. 

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A friend of mine here in the blogging world recently deleted her entire blog account.  I was a bit worried; where did she go?  Luckily, I did get an email from her, to know that she is okay,  just taking some time in the 3D world with the energy she had been giving to the cyber world. 

Time well spent.  For sure.

But, so is this for me.  For the blogging world has brought me so many more friends, and when I say friends, I mean FRIENDS.  Sure, it seems a bit scary and strange, for we could all be portraying ourselves as one person, and actually be someone else. 

I trust it no differently than my other friendships.  You have all come to mean so very much to me.  From the deepest part of my heart, you have become friends, and some of you, family to me.  The family of the world.  The family that is welcome into my home.  nov_af_diversity

 

I want to acknowledge all of my new found friends from here on the blogs, it has been a pleasure to meet and to get to know all of you.  Any one of you would be welcome in my home; worthy of a hug when I see you.  Your humor, your love, connection, and compassion makes a world of difference in my life.

So, here’s to all of you:  Amandazing, Amber, Angryafrican, Christine, CordieB, Deeps, Lindsey, Gypsy-heart, Hayden, HearttoHeart, Joy, Katie Starlets, Keltic, Kwoneshe2, Leah, Psychscribe, Audrey, SurfaceEarth and Tinkabell.  All are here on my blogroll and worthy of a good read.

You all are among the blessings that I count, each and every day, especially at this time of year.  You have helped to make me a better, more informed person each and every moment of my life, and I thank you, and wish you peace, love, and blessings to you and yours throughout this season……….

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I love you all!

Peace. On Earth.

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Peace on earth.  Peace.  On Earth.   Is there really such a thing?  Peace.  On Earth. 

I think so. 

Who can dispute that there is war everywhere in this world?  People that die each and every day for a cause? 

Yet, I have the audacity to say that there IS peace.  On earth.

Yep, there is.

Within me, around me, there is peace.  On Earth.  In my life.

Within, it feels like peace of knowing self, of loving self, of feeling contented and cared for and loved and secure.

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To me, peace is not just a word to say, a symbol to show with two fingers.  It is not a concept that rings hollow with me, for it really means something.

It means peace.  On earth.  To love one another.  To show others what it is that we hold most close and dear in our hearts.  It means living with passion and purpose and meaning, and feeling fulfilled.  It means giving to others as we can; it means being selfless and committing random acts of kindness and goodness and love.

Peace.  On earth. 

It means having an immense appreciation for the vivid cultural landscape of our world, embracing those beautiful, unique qualities that we possess, and giving the world a great big hug.  It means seeking understanding of those things we know not about, just because it matters to know what matters to others.

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Peace.  On Earth.  Make it happen.  Go give a hug.  Call a friend.  Sit and have a glass of wine while you look at your tree.  Examine your soul.  Open up your heart.

Peace.  On Earth.

 

 

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Make it happen……

Peace.  On Earth.

Happy Birthday, brother!

My little brother, Keith, turns 44 years old today.  I can hardly believe that the years have flown that quickly, that he could be that age already!  It baffles me, more than my own increasing age!!!

When we were children, we fought, a lot.  We didn’t just verbally fight either, we were physical about it.  That lasted through most of our childhood years, until my senior year of high school, when he began at Keene High School as a freshman.  That is when things changed.

He all of the sudden, started watching out for me.  Seeming excited to be at the same school as his older sister.  No more fighting.  He joined the choir and his musical love took off, the year after I left the high school.  He joined the Drama Club, and was so excited when I would come home on breaks from college to see him perform.  One year, I came home when he was in the production, “Flower Drum Song”, and surprised him.  He was so happy.

My brother and I spent less and less time together as we aged.  He stayed behind in New England, I stayed in Pennsylvania after I graduated from college.  He got engaged.  I came out, and he was the first one in my family that I told; we were sitting in his car outside my grandparents house, in the driveway.  He was absolutely loving and supportive beyond measure.

Then, he got married, and started raising his family.  He moved from New Hampshire, to North Carolina, to Virginia, to Chicago, Bermuda and Vermont.  He was never close by.  I missed him so much………..

Then, several years ago he called me.  Told me that he was being pursued by a company less than an hour from my home in Pennsylvania.  I was so excited, but with restraint.  What if it didn’t happen, that he didn’t come so close to me?  It was almost too much to hope for……

But, they thought he was fabulous, and he did come.  And settled down.  And got a home.  And had two beautiful baby boys.  And found a church, a church that so opened up his spiritual core it is amazing……. and he started singing again.

He started playing in the folk music group at his church, called The Living Stones, and it was to overwhelming support.  He started asking me to come down and sing with the group.  I have done so a few times now.  Thursday evening of this week, we will be singing at the local airport, Christmas songs to welcome holiday travellers home, or on their way home………

It is the closest I ever feel to my brother, when our voices are raised in song together.  It is the purest form of worship, and life, and love, and connection, that I can ever think of in my heart.  It is the two of us being connected to one another once again.  It is family, and life, and joy. 

I love him so much, and feel so grateful to have him in my life.  He is my baby brother, with babies of his own.  And I am so, so amazingly proud and happy to be his big sister.

I love you,  my brother.  Happy, Happy birthday.  It really is a special day!!!!

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Christmas every day!

Christmas is my absolute, favorite holiday.  The sights, the sounds, the magic of it all.  Sure, throughout December I am possessed with that spirit more than any other time of the year, because we decorate, and put up the tree, and wrap up the gifts that we give to one another in extra-special paper. 

But, to me, Christmas is a feeling that I have within my heart and soul the whole year through. 

Giving:  There is never a good or bad time to give.  To ourselves or to others.  Not just gifts that are wrapped up with a fancy bow.  But giving of the gifts of our time, our talents, our service, our appreciation.  Those are worthy gifts the whole year through.

Receiving:  Never a best time throughout the year to receive either.  Any time that we are awake, alert, aware and breathing, we should be open to receiving, gifts, presence, and lessons that the Universe has to offer to us.

Gratitude:  Don’t ever hold back in letting others how much you appreciate what they bring to your life.  We all need to hear it as much as we need to say it, if not more.  Be grateful for what you have before you, in this moment, because in another moment, it could be gone.  Thank God for the beauty of this earth, the priviledges and freedoms that you possess, the breath in your lungs.  Say thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

Forgive:  Do not hold onto old wrongs and misdeeds; for they create a hole and blackness within our own souls that keeps us stuck, creates misery, and doesn’t allow us to truly appreciate what we do have in our lives.  Forgive one another.  Move on.  Leave the troubles behind and leave the sunshine on your path ahead. 

And, by all means my friends, LOVE.  Love with your heart, your soul, your mind, your spirit…….. please don’t hold it back; give it freely, receive it freely, open that heart of y0urs with as much gusto as you can stir up.  Love is contagious, you know.  If you have it, and try really hard, you can make someone else lovesick.  No shots needed to prevent that one.  Give it, get it, open up and help others to learn to open up also.  Love is in short supply in our world at times, but just think how much better and brighter we can make this world by sharing that love that could burst right through our skin sometimes………..

Call that friend.  Leave that note.  Buy that flower.  Visit that sick person.  Make plans.  Be. Do.  Become.

And, by all means, on this day, Christmas Day, and every day throughout the year,

LOVE………………………………………….

 

Don’t get so busy that you miss
Giving just a little kiss
To the ones you love
Don’t even wait a little while
To give them a little smile
A little is enough how many people are crying
People are dying…
How many people are asking for love don’t save it all for christmas day
Find a way
To give a little love everyday
Don’t save it all for christmas day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on
Love… how could you wait another minute
A hug is warmer when you’re in it
And baby that’s a fact
And saying “i love you’s” always better
Seasons, reasons, they don’t matter
So don’t hold back
How many people in this world
So needful in this world
How many people are praying for love don’t save it all for christmas day
Find a way
To give a little love everyday
Don’t save it all for christmas day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on
Love… let all the children know
Everywhere that they go
Their whole life long
Let them know love don’t save it all for christmas day
Find a way
To give a little love everyday
Don’t save it all for christmas day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on
Love…
Love…