Prepare: Find a picture of someone who fought (or is fighting for) human rights – like Martin Luther King Jr., or Nelson Mandela. I will use Martin Luther King as my example here, but it really doesn’t matter too much who you choose.
That’s right, this is Martin Luther King. He wanted equal rights for African Americans. He tried very hard to be peaceful and kind, but he was also sure that he was doing the right thing. There were people who were very angry with him for the things that he was saying and for the changes that he wanted people to make in their lives. He knew that we should treat all people the as beloved children of God. No one is less of a person than anyone else because they are a boy or a girl, or because their skin is light or dark, or their hair is straight of curly. We all belong to God.
The sad part of this story is that Martin Luther King was treated badly. He was arrested, he was beat up, he was yelled at and eventually he was even killed because he knew what was the right thing to do, and he kept doing it.
I thought of Martin Luther King when I reading from 1 Peter. In that letter, Peter (or maybe Peter’s followers) write that even if it is scary we should keep doing what we know is right, even if we get in trouble for doing it.
Now wait a minute . . . you really have to think about this! If you’re hungry, is it right to go take all the cookies out of the cookie jar, or steal someone’s lunch? Is it pushing someone out the way because you are late? No, doing the right thing is acting with love! So, instead of taking someone else’s food when you are hungry, it is sharing or giving your food to someone else who is hungry, too. Instead of pushing someone out of your way, it is stopping to help someone who needs it even if you are going to be later because you stop.
Sometimes acting with love can be the hardest thing to do, too. Acting with love might mean getting on the bad side of a bully because you help someone who is being bullied, or tell a teacher or adult about the bully. Acting with love means giving food or help to someone who is homeless even if other people what to ignore them.
At the end of this little passage from 1 Peter, we hear that even if we mess up, Jesus always welcomes us back. Even when we don’t always act with Love, there is a place for us with Jesus.
Loving God, help us to love one another the way that you love us. Help us to see the ways to act with love and kindness in everything that we do, and forgive us when we mess up and forget to be loving. Amen.
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