First Congregational Church UCC
220 West Lyon Avenue
Lake City, Minnesota 55041
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 SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2023

Good Morning!  

God's voice speaks. 

It speaks love and comfort. 

It speaks justice and courage.

A man named Martin heard that voice. 

It came to him in the kitchen.

And Martin became God's voice for us.


-Pastor David
 
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First Congregational Church UCC
114 North Oak Street
Lake City, MN  55041
Here Is Today's Message

"God's Voice Came To Martin In The Kitchen"
A message from
Rev. David S. Badgley

 Sunday, January 15, 2023

     Martin Luther King, Jr. was unable to sleep. He was filled with fear. 
     It was January 27, 1956.  He had received a midnight telephone call threatening to blow up his house if he did not leave Montgomery, Alabama in three days. 
     Martin thought about what could happen to his wife and to his baby girl. 
     Martin later described that phone call as a “spiritual midnight.”
     It was the early weeks of the Montgomery bus boycott.  At age 27 Martin had agreed to be the most visible leader in the civil rights movement.  He had attended Crozer Seminary because ministry appealed to him.  He said he felt “the inescapable urge to serve society” and to “do something about black suffering.”
     Martin was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression. Today is the 94th anniversary of his birth.  Martin's birthday became a federal observance when President Ronald Regan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on November 2, 1983, designating the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King Day.
     Martin's own experiences of segregation and injustice as a child and a teenager disgusted him.  He had been forced to sit behind a curtain on a train and he later said, “I felt as though that curtain had dropped on my personhood.” 
     Railroad companies had separate train cars for “Negroes only.”
     In Martin’s formative years the Ku Klux Klan struck fear with their hooded night marches and burning crosses.  It was a powerful reminder that not all crosses were liberating and loving, even when Jesus’ name was used. 
     White ministers sometimes served as mob leaders who blessed lynchings and quoted scripture to justify white supremacy.
     In the deep south, in the 1950s and 60s, black suffering was intense under white supremacy and segregation. 
     Under the system of segregation on Montgomery public buses, white people who boarded the bus took seats in the front row, filling the bus toward the back.  Black people who boarded the bus took seats in the back rows, filling the bus toward the front. 
     Eventually the two sections would meet, and the bus would be full.  If other black people boarded the bus, they were required to stand.  If another white person boarded the bus, then everyone in the black row nearest the front had to get up and stand, so that a new row for white people could be created. 
     Often when boarding the buses, black people were required to pay at the front, get off, and reenter the bus through a separate door at the back.  On some occasions bus drivers would drive away before black passengers were able to re-board.
     On December 1, 1955 a black woman named Rosa Parks was riding the bus while sitting in the front-most row for black people.  When a white man boarded the bus, the bus driver told everyone in her row to move back to create a new row for the whites.  While all of the other black people in her row complied, Parks refused. 
     She was arrested for failing to obey the driver’s seat assignments. 
     Black leaders started a citywide boycott of public transit.  Since the bulk of riders and paying customers were black, the boycott caused crippling financial deficit for the transit system. 
     White opposition resorted to violence and boycotters were often physically attacked. 
     The bus boycott started on December 5, 1955, and on the 54th day Martin Luther King, Jr. received that midnight phone call threatening to blow up his house in three days if he did not leave Montgomery.  Martin was so filled with fear that he couldn’t sleep.  He got up from bed and went into the kitchen. 
     He says he prayed out loud to God.  “Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right…But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now, I’m faltering, I’m losing my courage.” 
     Then, Martin heard a voice: “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness.  Stand up for justice.  Stand up for truth.  And lo I will be with you, even to the end of the world.”
     It was the voice of God with the same message God has been giving to all those who struggle for justice, peace and fairness. We call those people prophets, because their voices call us back to the true way of life God has for us. 
     And before Martin Luther King, Jr. heard God’s voice, so did the biblical prophets, including one named Isaiah. 
    Listen to what Isaiah wrote about himself. 
The Lord called me before my birth;
    from within the womb he called me by name.
He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword.
    He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand.
    I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.
He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel,
    and you will bring me glory.”
I replied, “But my work seems so useless!
    I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.
Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand;
    I will trust God for my reward.”
And now the Lord speaks…
The Lord has honored me,
    and my God has given me strength.
He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.
    I will make you a light to the nations,
    and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:1-6 (NLT)
     When prophets feel the weight of responsibility, and when they feel that they are making no progress, God says, “You are mine!  I called you to do this!” 
     In the case of Isaiah, God believes in Isaiah more than Isaiah believes in himself and Isaiah becomes more than a light to Israel. He becomes a light to the nations.
     You and I may not be “prophets” in an official definition of the term, but you and I are called by God to bring love and peace and justice to this world just as the prophets did. 
     And we may cry out, “Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right…But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now, I’m faltering, I’m losing my courage.” 
     And God says, “Stand up for righteousness.  Stand up for justice.  Stand up for truth.  And lo I will be with you, even to the end of the world.” 
     That is the message Jesus gave to his disciples after his resurrection.  According to the gospel of Matthew, the Risen Jesus made an appearance to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee.  Matthew tells us,
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)
     Martin Luther King, Jr. heard those same words of assurance from God after he received that bomb threat phone call. 
     And three nights later, Martin’s house was bombed. 
     He was at a boycott meeting and not at home at the time.  His wife and daughter and a family friend were at home, but they heard something land on the porch and moved to the back of the house, so they were unharmed.
     When someone at the meeting told Martin that his house had been bombed, he calmly asked about the safety of his family and then went home to comfort them. 
     Martin later said, “Strangely enough, I accepted the word of bombing calmly.  My religious experience a few nights before had given me the strength to face it.” 
     When an angry crowd of blacks gathered with guns ready to avenge the bombing, Martin raised his hand and calmed them, saying, “We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence.  We must meet violence with nonviolence…We must love our white brothers no matter what they do to us.  We must make them know that we love them.”
     Martin believed that Jesus Christ was the most powerful religious authority for black Christians.  Jesus’ teachings on love and nonviolence became Martin’s primary focus. 
     Martin said, “Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.’ This is what we must live by.” 
     King believed that God was the only hope for a minority to achieve justice.  He told people, “Remember, if I am stopped, this movement will not stop, because God is with the movement.”
     On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld the district court's ruling that segregation on public buses and transportation was against the law. The ruling led to a city ordinance that allowed bus passengers to sit virtually anywhere they wanted.
     The Montgomery bus boycott officially ended December 20, 1956, just five days before Christmas. 
     It had lasted 381 days, during which four black Baptist churches were firebombed, and boycotters were physically attacked.
  On January 27, 1957, it was the one-year anniversary of Martin hearing God’s voice.  Just the night before twelve sticks of unexploded dynamite were discovered on his porch. Martin and his family had spent the night at a friend’s house, so they were unharmed.  
     And on that one-year anniversary Martin preached a sermon, saying to God, “I realized that there were moments when I wanted to give up and I was afraid, but You gave me a vision in the kitchen of my house and I am grateful for it.” 
     He told his listeners, “Early on a sleepless morning in January, 1956, rationality left me…Almost out of nowhere I heard a voice that morning saying to me, ‘Preach the gospel, stand up for truth, stand up for righteousness.’  Since that morning I can stand up without fear.  So I’m not afraid of anybody this morning.  Tell Montgomery they can keep shooting and I’m going to stand up to them; tell Montgomery they can keep bombing and I’m going to stand up to them.  If I had to die tomorrow morning I will die happy because I’ve been to the mountain top and I’ve seen the promised land and it’s going to be here in Montgomery.”
     You and I may not be “prophets” in an official definition of the term, but we are called by God and by Jesus Christ to bring love and peace and justice to this world. 
      We may cry out, “Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right…But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now, I’m faltering, I’m losing my courage.” 
     And God says to us, “Stand up for righteousness.  Stand up for justice.  Stand up for truth.  And lo I will be with you, even to the end of the world.”  


     -Pastor David
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