June 27, 2021: The Urgency of Now

hand of statue

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

The Urgency of Now

This story is a snapshot of desperation. A father, normally a respected community leader, begging for the life of his daughter. A nameless woman, bankrupt and socially rejected, making one last risky move before she falls into oblivion. These are not people wearing their Sunday best, tie straightened and makeup done just right. These are people at the end of their ropes.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on that august day in 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to those present about the “fierce urgency of now.” He told the crowd that there was no time left for “gradualism,” no time left to coolly consider the options and not ruffle feathers. No, the sweltering heat of injustice was too much to bear, the need too great, and the time to reach out for justice was now.

Jesus honors the faith of those who feel the fierce urgency of now. He commends the faith of those who know their need and reach out, and he responds with healing mercy.

On that day, so long ago by the Sea of Galilee, how many people stood off to the side, hoping for good news, but too timid, or too respectable, or too proud to ask? How many people watched as Jesus passed on by? But two were sufficiently aware of their own desperate realities to put those things aside and to reach out for what they needed in that moment of grace.

May we be sufficiently aware of what is desperately needed in our lives and in the lives of others, and then reach out in raw hope and faith. And if what is required is that we fall down at Jesus’ feet or reach out for the hem of his robe, then we too will know the fierce urgency of now.

Christopher Chatelaine-Samsen, pastor,

Berea Moravian Church, St. Charles, Minnesota