A Homily for 580 teenagers honoring MLK

I am going to say something a little bold.
Or perhaps you might even call it crazy.

The first two they make sense. They will sound familiar.
But the third...well, it is radical. I mean loco- off the wall.

You have heard the phrase the body of Christ before right?
Well the body of Christ is the wine and bread?
That's the first thing.
Did you also realize that the body of Christ is also in the word- scripture.
That is the 2nd thing.

Now I know that you are all waiting with baited breath.
But did you know that the body of Christ is you and I.
I know you are all stunned.
But before you all go into shock- and start staring blankly at me. . . it look like some of you already are...
This idea, that we are the body of Christ is so wack- that even the church teaches it.

So here we are you and I. Part of the body of Christ.
We are gathered to celebrate MLK day-
But if you didn't notice,
we are mostly white,
mostly catholic,
mostly northern,
mostly we weren't alive when MLK was.

And the civil rights movement:
Mostly black,
Mostly protestant,
Mostly southern,
and it pretty much seems like its over.

But the fact of the matter- we honor today because we, the body of Christ,
believe that when one part of the body of Christ suffers we all suffer.

This is what MLK challenges us to:
to believe that all of our suffering is wrapped up together.
Just as the suffering of southern black protestants in the 60's affected/s us today.

So here is how I understand it:
I lived, for awhile, on an Island.
A very very small Island.
We had about 90 people that lived there and together we had a retreat center we all worked at.
Mostly, I did laundry.

We didn't have internet.
We barely had phone service, we didn't have television.
So we were a tight community.
Sometimes angsty, sometimes hilarious, often creative but nonetheless tight!

I realized there that whatever was going on with one person affected us all.
If I folded all the sheets wrong it affected housekeeping.
Making 60 beds is hard enough if the sheets are made right.
So if I did one thing wrong- the housekeepers were mad.
Then they were rude to the retreats-ants.
Then the retreat-ants were rude to the waitstaff.
Then later in the day- the waitstaff was grumpy and mean to me.
I caused it- kind of- and didn't even know.

Each person is part of the chain of events.
Each person affects what is going on with the other people.
This is happening all the time around us- it's so big we sometimes don't realize.

MLK invites us to look at each other, look around us and say, "I am going to work to liberate those who are suffering- because their suffering is my suffering too."
MLK invites us to stop waiting for the kingdom, stop waiting for the right time, stop waiting and DO SOMETHING FOR OTHERS!

My reflection was going to just end there.
But then on Tuesday around 5:00 tens of thousands of people in Haiti died.
Haiti- a country- founded by slaves who demanded their freedom and kicked the slaveholders out.
Haiti, the poorest country in the entire western hemisphere.
Haiti a country who has suffered racism at an international level is suffering.-Brutally right now. There isn't enough food, water, energy, or money on a good day.
And today they suffer.

And when we pray today, as the body of Christ, we suffer with the people of Haiti.
We suffer because when one of the body of Christ suffers we all suffer.
So today, as MLK asked us: Stop waiting and DO SOMETHING FOR OTHERS.
Do something for the body of Christ.


  1. I have goosebumps! What a powerful sermon. You're an inspiration, Rachel. I hope those high schools appreciate you!!

  2. Yeah Rachel you totally rocked it. MLK day is one of those holidays that doesn't seem to have a meaning to me other than a lot of people don't have to work. Guess I never really thought of it this way.


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