Now is a good time to reflect again on King’s model for nonviolent protest to bring about peace and justice to a world still marred by injustice and violence. We should not only look for ways to name the evil in our world but look for paths toward redemption and reconciliation with others. And we must do these things in love for God and neighbor, or else we will be shaped by our hatred and fear of the other.
We celebrate holidays because they are a sign and a foretaste of a future realities marked by resurrection, love, and the New Heavens and the New Earth. But that leaves us needing to live into those future promises here and now. We can live lives of joy, tending to the small plants of hope planted during our holiday festivities. This is the work between celebrations: living into the realities of the present by nurturing lives and communities that bear fruit we will harvest, ferment, and drink in celebration the next time the holiday season comes round.
The American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh lawsuit that reached a settlement in 1991 resulting in NACARA provided a measure of justice that allowed hundreds of thousands of people like Luis Marcos to have their cases heard. Luis was granted asylum and later received full U.S. citizenship. His story is but one example of how American Baptists fight for justice and extend mercy, because of our faith.
This beautiful tension of unity and diversity was on full display during the 2021 Biennial Mission Summit. Women and men representing a variety of ethnic, social, and theological perspectives provided inspiration and encouragement for participants to imagine the kingdom of God in their contexts.