Today is Human Relations Day in The United Methodist Church, and tomorrow is the national observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Human Relations Day is celebrated annually across our denomination on the Sunday before King’s observance. The UMC website says, “Human Relations Day calls United Methodists to recognize the right of all God’s children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with one another.”1 Similarly, our mission statement here at Briensburg United Methodist Church is “Helping each other serve to our full potential.”
Just think how the world would be if everyone could feel the love and friendship, the mutual respect and supportiveness, and the sense of community we share in this room today. Many communities around the world already do feel this way about each other, and they do extend this love into all their other relationships. But there are still many others who feel differently and extend their animosities into all their relationships. Part of our work as believers in the teachings and example of Jesus is to overcome their hostility with our love – with God’s love. St. John framed it metaphorically at the beginning of his Gospel in the Good News Translation, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.”2
like to share this from The King Center Website:3
Martin Luther King, Jr. described the “Beloved Community” as a society where “caring and compassion drive political policies that support the worldwide elimination of poverty and hunger and all forms of bigotry and violence. At its core, the ‘Beloved Community’ is an engine of reconciliation.”
Human Relations Day
emphasizes the value and potential of every human being. Jesus did that. In his
allegory of the Judgement of the Nations, “when the Son of man shall come in
his glory, and all the holy angels with him,” Jesus specifically targeted the
way people treat each other across governments, societies, and institutions in addition
to individuals. The messages of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. challenge
us all to listen to our own better angels, to be thoughtful about our unseen environment,
and to treat everyone as spiritual beings like Christ or like angels, or like
divinely created souls whose bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost.
Excerpt from the manuscript of the sermon preached by
Rev. Bill Lawson on January 14, 2024, at Briensburg UMC.
Readings for the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Revised Common
Lectionary, Year B
Psalm 139:1-6, 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 1 Corinthians 6:17-20, John 1:43-51
COVER IMAGE: William
Blake. “Jacob’s Dream,” 1805. Public Domain. Wikipedia, the Free
Encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blake_jacobsladder.jpg Accessed 14
January 2024. Painting.
2 John 18:5 (GNT).