Though I normally write each Village Smith on Monday of every week, these words are being written on Wednesday following the inauguration ceremony for President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. I waited a couple of days, because I wanted to know for sure that this transition took place safely. I’m glad it did, so very glad. I also wanted to hear what our 46th President of these United States of America would say at this juncture.
On Monday’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I was reminded that Dr. King’s final book is titled Where Do We Go From Here? He posed that question in this work in 1967, just months before his voice, his life, was snuffed out by an assassin’s bullet in April of the next year. In noting his manner of death, I call attention to the prescience of the subtitle either Dr. King or his publisher chose for this last book. That subtitle is “Chaos or Community?”.
Given the events of these past sixteen days in our nation’s Capitol and of this past year across our country, it should be apparent that the question posed by Dr. King 54 years ago is a question for right now. Will we choose chaos or community? Chaos has ceaselessly held our attention on so many fronts for so long. We can grow accustomed to it and even assume there can never be any other way. There is another way. Dr. King wrote about it. Surely we believe in it. It is the way of community.
Stanford University history professor Dr. Clayborne Carson notes that the most important word in King’s book title is “We.” We. This is the essence of community at national, neighborhood, family and congregational level: we. Our now will be most fully realized for all God’s best as chaos is stilled and community takes root, blossoms and is on full display. President Biden drove home the call to “we” many times in his words Wednesday on the steps of the Capitol. I pray this may be so at every level of our life moving forward. As a congregation, I pray that we will be more and more the community that God desires us to be, under the Lordship of Jesus, for our sake and the sake of all people, right now. “We” needs to be stronger than ever, and it all starts with us.
Standing with you as a fellow traveler in these days,