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MLK Assembly, January 2017 Rev. Dr.

Ann Rosewall
Hebrews 11.36-12.6

I am humbled to be part of the assembly today, and honored that so many


from First Congregational UCC of Evanston are here. Faith in Action on the
northshore, as in all parts of the city, begins with conversation and study, but it
cannot end there. We cannot grow weary! We cannot lose heart. Many
congregations like ours, and I hope more churches after today, are engaging in
courageous, or what we call sacred conversations about race, which include all
the elements presented in the panel this morning. It is a challenging process, but
it is essential to moving out of what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called chaos,
into community.
In these sacred conversations on race, you will find conflicting responses.
On the one hand, there is a fire and desire to move and act toward identifying
that racism, dismantling it and building structures based on equality and equity.
On the other hand, there is still an unbelieveable resistance to embrace fully the
reality of white privilege, the violence of systemic racism, and the institutional
racism woven into the very life of church.
The risk of talking about white privilege and the violence inherent in racism,
is that the discomfort is hard to sustain. There is a spoken or unspoken fear of
losing people, or not finding common ground, or, God forbid, offending someone.
Well guess what? God is offended. God is offended when we stop talking. God is
offended when we dont have time to show up for organized action. God is
offended when we go our own way, rather than the way of justice that is
embedded in our lives of faith. God is offended when we go our own way.
Rev. Dr. King said, I choose to identify with the underprivileged. I choose
to identify with the poor. I choose to give my life for the hungry This is the way
Im going. The question now is whether we are going that way as well. Will we
go the way of Dr. King to identify with those we are advocating for? Will we go
that way?
Dr. King poses particular questions to us in his book, Where do we go from
here? Chaos or Community.
If you are moved to do so, answer these questions of Dr. King and say, IM GOING
THAT WAY.
Are we going the way of community? Im going that way.
What if it means suffering for others? Im going that way.
What if it means sacrificing for others? Im going that way.
What if it means dying for others? Im going that way.
What if it means loving peace and sacrificing for it? Im going that way.
What if it means renouncing the idolatries of racism, materialism and militarism?
Im going that way.
What if it means implementing the demands of justice? Im going that way.
What if it means correcting everything that stands against love? Im going that
way.
If you and I are going that way of Dr. King, then we will overcome chaos with
community, we will not grow weary and we will not lose heart.
Thank you.
More and more, the civil rights movement will have to engage in the task of
organizing people ito permanent groups to protect their own interests and
produce change in their behalf. This task is tedious, and lacks the drama of
demostrations, but it is necessary for meaningful results.
Where Shall We Go From Here? 1967

Hebrews 11.36-12.6

36
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and
imprisonment. 37They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two,
they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep
and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented 38of whom the world
was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in
caves and holes in the ground. 39Yet all these, though they were
commended for their faith, did not receive what was
promised, 40since God had provided something better so that they
would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

12Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of


witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings
so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set
before us,2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the
cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right
hand of the throne of God.3Consider him who endured such hostility
against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or
lose heart.