Being a Beloved Community – MLK Day reflections

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WFPC Traditional Worship on MLK weekend

This weekend I shared about our experience with the Habitat for Humanity build (photos here). Today, then, it makes sense to write about Rebekah’s sermon on justice Sunday morning. It was essentially a follow-up to Saturday’s home dedication and the ongoing work of building community.

Rebekah preached for 28-minutes, which is a long time for her, but it was such an interesting and powerfully focused message the extra time was more than okay.

Koinonia at WFPC

Sunday morning was beautiful all around at Wake Forest Presbyterian, with solid crowds, wonderful music, a great discussion in my class, and the pervasive presence of a positive, buoyant spirit that puts the word koinonia – a key word in Rebekah’s message – into clear focus.

Our calling is to become a “Beloved Community” to the extent that is not only transformational for individuals within WFPC, but that is transformational for the community around us, and ultimately the world. True community is more than good feelings and singing kumbaya around the campfire: it is love that eradicates hate; light that puts an end to darkness; hope that defeats fear; promise that overwhelmes despair; mutual support, encouragement, and accountability – the practice of an active, purposeful peace that is far more effective in producing productive change than conflict ever can be.

True community is:

  • love that eradicates hate;
  • light that puts an end to darkness;
  • hope that defeats fear;
  • promise that overwhelms despair;
  • mutual support, encouragement, and accountability…
  • it is the practice of an active, purposeful peace that is far more effective in producing productive change than conflict ever can be.

Franciscan Benediction:

Rebekah closed her message with this traditional Franciscan Benediction. The important ideas here are of being blessed with restless discomfort, holy anger, the gift of tears, and – my favorite – enough foolishness to believe:

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

The struggle remains:

The struggle for civil rights, equality, respect, acceptance, and the simple dignity of full humanity remains – and the progress that has been made (on behalf of black and brown people, women of all races, and the entire LBGTQ spectrum) is constantly under attack.

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author Derek Maul lives and writes in North Carolina

Yes, we must remain vigilant, but more so we must strengthen koinonia and live as The Beloved Community.

I often ask this question when I travel to speak: “If your church instantly disappeared, would the community you are planted in even notice you was gone?” For WFPC, the answer is a very definite yes. Because koinonia not only transforms individuals, it infiltrates the world around it with the radical, life-giving love of Jesus.

– DEREK

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Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

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