The United Methodist Church determined the Sunday before the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr national holiday would be an official special Sunday in our denomination. It is designated as a special Sunday “with offering” which means that a special offering could be taken to support specific United Methodist ministries that focus on creating better human relations. As the church that emphasizes that we live both a personal and a social faith, Human Relations Sunday makes perfect sense. I support both the holiday and the special Sunday. Most years this means that the work and words of Dr. King are lifted up and there is some focus on racism, all with the best intentions and faithfulness.
This year something different happened. I got smitten with an ironic giggle about the special Sunday. We need a special Sunday to focus on Human Relations? Didn’t God take care of that with the incarnation? That big event we just celebrated for several weeks. God took human form in Jesus Christ who was very specific about how we relate to each other, love one another. His passion for that point, led him right to the cross and my ironic giggle led me to a deeper reflection.
Have I been using this designated Sunday as an excuse to focus on how racism is manifest in our world? Has this been an attempt to make preaching about race relations more palatable to the average worshipper? This is no giggling matter. Our human relations are fraught with racism and we white folks have let it simmer below the surface until events in Ferguson turned up the heat. Very hard to ignore a boiling pot on the human relations stove top.
So I’m trying a new recipe come Sunday by focusing on a basic, scriptural, tenet of faith, hospitality. These days we are more likely to hear about hospitality as an industry instead of an issue of faith. Biblical hospitality has been around a lot longer than Marriot or Holiday Inn. Dwelling on hospitality is not only a worthy worship theme it is a fine way to honor Dr. King and give glory to God’s great work on human relationships. If this sparks your interest you may want to show up at church