Redeemer West Side Update
One of the most helpful sermons I’ve ever read is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Loving Your Enemies.” Since it’s summer and you (hopefully) have some time for extra reading, I’m taking some space here to summarize his sermon with the hopes that this summary whets your appetite to find some time to read through the whole sermon yourself!
Dr. King begins by acknowledging that of all the commands Jesus ever gave to his followers, the command to love your enemies is hardest of all. At that same time, this command — hard as it is to live out — is “absolutely necessary for our survival.”
The sermon then breaks down into two points. Dr. King begins with the practical question: “How can we love our enemies?”
- We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. If you have not the power to forgive you will not have the power to love. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting evil or ignoring it, but that the evil act no longer remains a barrier to the relationship: “when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a relationship.”
- Recognize that the evil deed of the enemy-neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he or she is. There is a war inside all of us, and Dr. King calls us to see others in the same way we view ourselves: as complicated persons with competing motivations, desires, and resultant actions (cf. Romans 7). “This simply means there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.”
- We must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his or her friendship. Even in moments when the enemy can be humiliated, we must surrender the desire for shallow victory and instead act so that “every word and deed” contributes “to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill that have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.”
The end of the sermon wrestles with the question, “Why should we love our enemies?” It’s here that Dr. King powerfully applies the gospel to our hearts, to the hearts of anyone who has been wronged and then struggled to love an enemy.
- Only loving our enemies will put an end to the destructive cycle of violence. “Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
- Hate scars the soul and distorts the personality. Hate is destructive not only to the person hated, but especially to the person hating. By commanding us to love our enemies Christ is inviting us to soul-wholeness. “Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity” (48).
- Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. The ultimate way to overcome an enemy is to transform that enemy into a friend! Only love is capable of such a great reversal. Dr. King quotes Lincoln: “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
- We are called to this task in order to realize a unique relationship with God. When Jesus asked us to love enemies, he was asking of us something not natural, but supernatural. By loving our enemies we demonstrate that we are sons and daughters of God, for only God can provide the power to love our enemies fully and ultimately.
At the end Dr. King closes his sermon by pointing us to Christ. Christians can love their enemies because Christians realize that they were once enemies of God and yet were loved sacrificially and unendingly by Jesus Christ, as revealed in his death on the cross (Romans 5:8). The cross of Jesus is a cosmic display of what it means to love an enemy. Those who have so experienced the love of Christ are transformed, turned into a community who live out the love of Jesus in their world. “Love is the most durable power in the world.”
UPDATE TO REGISTRATION FOR IN-PERSON SERVICES
Starting today, registration for in-person services will be available for everyone in our community on our website!
A few things to keep in mind:
- In order to attend you still have to register each individual person in you household/group.
- Registration will be available on our website instead of being sent by email. Registration will open every Monday at 7 a.m. and close Friday at 12 p.m. (or once we reach 100 registrants).
- Livestreaming on our YouTube channel is still available for those who are unable to or don’t feel comfortable joining in person yet.
Thank you for your patience over the last month or so as we have made this gradual transition into in-person services! We pray we can continue to serve you well during this season.
• Thank you for filling out the Fall Survey: Your feedback is going to be extremely helpful as we prayerfully plan out ministry opportunities for the fall!
• Sign up for our new WS Class - Racial Conversations, Aug 13: While this class is unable to be comprehensive and in-depth, Paul Yoo will provide some helpful frameworks around these complex issues of race and justice. Register to receive the Zoom meeting information.
• Join us for Noonday Prayer, Mon-Fri: Even if you don't feel led to pray out loud, you are invited to this time of communal prayer for our world, our country, our city and the church.
• Mentor kids in New York City: Many HFNY affiliates need volunteers to connect with children, youth and adults with disabilities as mentors throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
• Serve breakfast to homeless neighbors: If you're an early riser, help St. Paul's House serve meals during their Monday morning worship service.
• Join the next UWS Prayer Walk, Aug 22: If you missed the Prayer Walk this past Saturday, join the next one! As a way to love our West Side neighbors, we'll gather at W83 (with our masks!) then set out to pray and walk through our West Side neighborhood. Families with children are welcome to join us!
• Disaster Relief Fund is still available: For those in our West Side community, if you are still experiencing financial hardship because of wage loss due to COVID-19, we encourage you to reach out and let us know! Your church family has generously given to this fund to provide practical support for you during this season.