Isaiah 58:6-12; Hebrews 11:1-3
Presented November 11, 2012, by Joel Kline
The 24th Sunday after Pentecost
Several years ago, here at Highland Avenue Church, we created a series of postcards to be shared with the larger community, aimed at highlighting the key qualities or characteristics of our congregation, providing brief vignettes of our beliefs and values and faith perspective. One of the postcards, labeled “Welcoming questions big and small,” carried the message, “At Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren we are not afraid of questions or doubts. Join us as we consider how to live faithfully in the midst of life’s uncertainty…”
I have heard Jim Wallis, leader of the Sojourners Community in Washington, D.C., recall his upbringing in a small evangelical congregation in Detroit in the 1960s. It was the civil rights era, as well as the turbulent days of the rising peace and anti-Vietnam War movement. As a teenager, Jim Wallis began to hear of another world beyond the safe and secure walls of his white, middle-class congregation, and he found himself asking a number of critical questions. How is it that he could grow up singing, Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in sight, yet have so little connection with persons of differing colors and backgrounds and life experiences? Why were many of the members of his small evangelical congregation so critical of a minister gaining increasing notoriety in those days for leadership in the civil rights movement: Martin Luther King, Jr.? And didn’t Jesus have something to say about peace—and if so, why was Jim not hearing that message in the preaching and teaching of the congregation in which he had grown up?