I look out over the congregation on any given Sunday and see more stories than I can count.

Stories enfolding the experiences of women and men, children and senior-citizens, immigrants, nationals, urbanites, suburbanites, southerners, northerners, poor, rich, homeless, professionals, laborers, jobless, retired, addicted, recovered, left, right, Deaf, college-educated, special-need, families, single parents, divorcees, singles, couples, widows, survivors of crime, ex-offenders, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics… plus a thousand and one more stories in just this small cache of beautiful human beings who are willing to gather together.

I can’t possibly understand all of these unique stories.  I barely understand my own.  But how important it is to tell our stories to one another and to pay attention. When we pay attention we let the others know that we respect the journey they are on: that we know they are worthy of dignity and love.

All too often we find ourselves telling other people’s stories, often for our own gain or power.  But sometimes it’s necessary to reveal what has been hidden or ignored, especially when others have been silenced or shut away.  God gifts some of us to tell other’s stories, even our own stories, so that we can glimpse into the deeper, richer, startling truth about our world.

As we enter into February, I have found myself venturing deeper into the stories of African-Americans and our history together, the history of our country. I want to encourage us all to listen deeply to one another, to hear voices long silenced or skewed, to discover the dignity of one another, and to choose to love one another as our neighbor, as ourself.  For the love of God, it’s the only way we will move forward – together.

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.

Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’” Luke 3:4-6

Please prayerfully consider these resources (or recommend others):

“MLK: A Call to Conscience” on PBS (by Commentator & Author, Tavis Smiley)

“Black America since MLK: And Still I Rise” on PBS (by Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.)

“13th” on Netflix (by Director, Film Maker & Documentarian, Ava Duvernay)

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