Pastor Chris Chase, lead pastor at the Meeting House provides a message in commemorating the life of Martin Luther King Jr., his vision and on reconciliation for our Community Chapel this week.
Along with pastoring, Chris is a husband and father of two. His heart is to see people discover God’s love, delve into God’s Word, and live out God’s plan for their lives. When not with his family or serving at his church, Chris is a member and host of “The House of Common Show”, a YouTube Show/podcast with nine of his friends, where they speak on various issues as black Christian men.
Hey, Tyndale friends, my name is Chris Chase, and today I was supposed to be in your Chapel with you, in person, sharing for a few minutes, a 10-15 minute thing. And if you haven't seen outside today, it is impossible to drive in, and so the decision was made that it would be wiser to stay here where I am, and to record this than to send it over to you, which is so disappointing, but so understandable. Understandable, because the roads are crazy, and I would probably get stuck like right on my street and then not be able to get back home, in my car. But then disappointing because this is the second year in a row where I haven't been able to be with you. I spoke at your chapel last year via video, I was really looking forward to being back on, on school campus to be able to hang out with you there. And so hopefully, at some point in 2022, or maybe 2023, we can rectify this, and I can finally be there with you in person. But alas, here we are. And it really is a privilege to, to share with you and to open up the scripture with you and to hopefully give you something to help you along as you move towards this week, as Tyndale is such a special place to, to my family. My family and I.
So speaking of the weather, I'm guessing that some of you, or a lot of you, spent a lot of yesterday, Monday, shoveling snow. I felt like I was more outside my house than inside my house, as I was moving snow from one part of my driveway to the other side, making snow banks bigger than, than my head. I probably did more manual labor yesterday. It's, there's no gyms open right now. And I got my gym workout. And how about that, put it that way. I was not prepared for any of it. But as I was outside a lot, and shoveling, I had a lot of time to think. And yesterday, our friends stateside, they were recognizing Martin Luther King Day. And a part of why I was thinking about it as thinking about shovelling snow, was about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Because I was outside, I missed all of the Instagram posts and all of the tweets commemorating his life, and the promises by people saying we want to continue your dream. I want to do what you've done. And instead of me wanting to post something, or reading somebody else, I just was able to sit with his words. I was able to sit with his legacy for a while. And I tell you, the longer the day went, and the more I was shovelling, and the heavier the snow got. Even seeing his respect, his words became heavier and heavier and heavier upon my soul. As I reflected and contemplated his words and his legacy with my current actions, or more often than not, my inaction and oof, or the sample size of words. Some of his words are uplifting, some of them are cutting, some of them are filled with hope, others of them with lament or charge, and others still with a tinge of resignation, that he knew that the work that he was talking about, wasn't going to be accomplished in one day or one year, or maybe even in his his lifetime. Would take a while for them to find completion.
Yet his words they speak to our present, don't they, especially in light of the last two some odd years that we've been living in, in this moment of racial and social reckoning. They talk about who we are individually, who we want to be and what we should be striving for collectively. And probably like you, my mind my back to his most famous speech speech. The one that we know of as the "I Have a Dream" speech delivered on August 28 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. It's important to know that on that day, he was one of a number of communicators that were invited to the microphone to present something. There were people before him. And there were people after him. And this affirmation dream, was actually something that was in his soul and also a little bit of improv. History tells us that he had a speech, or a sermon, written out. And then he began to talk about a dream and someone on the side said "Tell them about the dream Martin". And we know just by by history that he had been talking about this dream with those closest to him. And then in this beautiful moment, that we have recorded, he then begins to tell everyone about what this dream is, he begins to share out of his soul, his hope, his desire.
And what an, what an amazing communicator. It's like, "did you have that ready written down like in that sort of fashion and that sort of", but it just sort of came out of him. He brought to share that with those in attendance that day. And that is what we hold on to is the one that is often quoted, and then often misquoted or quoted by people who, in many respects, completely oppose everything that he stands for, but they still believe in that dream. And yet, in the midst of it all, in that section, I want to spend a little bit of time over to talk a little bit about one section that is forgotten about, because it's actually a really long speech. And we spend a lot of time in that soundbite. But there are other areas in that speech that just resonate deeply with me today, or at least resonated with me yesterday, as I'm talking about, I'm talking about with you today. And the theme that I want to spend a little bit of time on is the theme of justice. So I'm going to quote Dr. King in the I Have a Dream speech. He says this, "In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a cheque. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificant magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men. Yes, black men as well as white men, will be guaranteed unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as citizens of colour are concerned. Instead of honouring the sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad cheque. A cheque that's come back marked insufficient funds. But we refuse to believe that the Bank of Justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that the Bank of Justice is bankrupt and refuse to believe there insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity in this nation. And so we have come to cash this cheque, a cheque that will give us, upon demand, the riches of freedom and security of justice." And later on, he continues that theme of justice he says this, "We can not be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility from a small, is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity, by a sign stating For Whites Only. We cannot be satisfied as long as a negro Mississippi cannot vote. And a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, we are not satisfied. And we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Here, at the end of the section, Dr. King, he is referencing the prophet Amos, in the fifth chapter of his book. And Amos, he was a farmer in Judah, who was literally, unexpectedly, handpicked by God to go to the northern kingdom of Israel, and to condemn that nation for their injustice and their apostasy. The people of Israel, the northern kingdom, they were living selfish lives, they were stealing from the poor and adding to the rich. They were disrespecting some to be able to care for, even as a smaller number. And this farmer was to call them to a better way of living, to warn them of their apostacy, to warn them of their injustice, to warn them so they might have the opportunity to repent and turn from their ways and live as God would have wanted them to. And that sounds a little bit like the story of Dr. King, doesn't it? Dr. King was one of many men and women of the civil rights movement. He was one of many communicators, he was one of many organizers who organized speeches and sit ins and and marches. And yet he was the one who was picked, essentially. He was the one who was earmarked to be able to be the voice of this revolution, to call a people to do differently, to call a people to change, to call a people to live lives of justice. And as we look at where, what he quoted, let's look at, almost like the full picture of what Amos was talking about in chapter five, verses 21-24.
Amos is speaking, God is speaking through Amos to the people of Israel. He says this, I hate, I despise your religious festivals. Your assemblies are a stench to me, even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs. I will not listen to the music of your hearts, but like justice full on, like a river in righteousness like a never failing string. God, through Amos, He tells the people of Israel, I don't want your bankrupt, insufficient funds, cheques. I don't want your promises. I don't want what you think is the best of things where you hold on for yourself. I don't want this pretend stuff. Instead, I want you to be people of justice. I want you to be people who care for others. I want righteousness, easier to describe as right living, a set apart way of doing things. I want that to be your hallmark, I want that to flow out of you. I want that to be the river that brings life and brings help to other people. May you stop living for yourselves. Instead, spend your days caring and living for others. Repent from this way that you've been doing stuff for so long. And find my way, which is a better way. I hear that, and when I see how, Dr. King, he uses that one line, he's capturing that entire section. He's literally walk through that his entire speech. He's literally saying, Listen, you have done this this way. And you have pushed aside people of colour. You have pushed aside, you have you have said to them, you have all of these rights. Ha ha, just kidding. Instead, may justice roll like a river, may this be something that's offered to everyone. May you who hold justice, offer justice to others. So we're all able to have life, love, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As I read through this passage, as I reread, and reread, and rethink about this speech, I'm reminded of knowing what the dream really was, the dream was that everybody would be equal, that justice would be available to everyone, that righteousness would be available to everyone. That there would not be two banks, one with a full, full vault for one set of subsets people and one bankrupt for others. But everybody would be able to have the exact same experience, the exact same opportunity than others.
And I think about us today, us in 2022. Us in Canada, or wherever you might be watching this. And I think as Christians, we get to be the dispensers of justice. And what does that look like for us today? That we wouldn't be people who give justice, because that's something sometimes what we like to do as Christians, we like to give justice, we like to be the ones who tell people what their what they've done wrong. We like to be the people who judge and push things away and hoard what justice is for ourselves. That's not the call of a believer, the call of a believer is to be justice, and to give justice, to give opportunity, even to people who don't necessarily agree with, or people that we don't understand. So what does it look like? What does that look like for us today? How do we live out this dream, today? May it be that like Amos, speaking to the people of Israel, that we would be justice, rolling, like a river. Righteousness, like a never failing stream. That we would be one that keeps it moving. That we would never stop. But we will continue to move towards justice, move towards caring, watching and caring for the least of these. Watching and caring for those who don't have. Watching and caring for those who feel like the system doesn't work for them, and the system doesn't care for them. May it be that we, wherever our Lincoln Memorial is, whether it's our phone, because we have influence on our Instagram, or TicToc. May it be if it's on our platforms of, where we, where we preach or sing. May it be where we blog, may it be in our classroom, may it be wherever we are, wherever our Lincoln Memorial is, may we declare that we are people of justice. Justice, that is the caring for other people, providing space, providing opportunity, providing voice for others. It's what the Lord wanted from the people of Israel, translated to a young man, I think it was older, older man, I guess, who's communicating in the midst of segregation 1960s and then falls on our shoulders today as well, as people who live in the most digital age of all time.
May we be people of justice, may we carry on that dream. And so that being said, thank you so much friends for for allowing me to share with you. Let me pray. And then I will, I guess pass it on to whoever's next.
Lord Jesus, we thank you today for the ability to, to gather together, to hear out of your Word, and to be reminded that life is not about us. But life is about us caring and sharing who you are with other people. May you be seen and felt through us I pray. In your name I pray, amen. But friends, it's so great to hang out with you. And let's hope that we can do as in person one day, Bye Bye, everybody.
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