Notes From Our Minister February 2021

Rev. Joe Cherry

Dear Members & Friends,

In November of 1956, after the Supreme Court decision striking down Montgomery, Alabama’s bus segregation laws, Dr. King reminded his audience, “Love your enemies. Keep in mind that a boycott and its achievements do not in themselves represent the goal. The end is reconciliation, the end is redemption, the end is the creation of the beloved community.”[1]

 A great preacher, Dr. King had an intrinsic ability to simultaneously comfort and challenge his congregation, whether they be in pews or in the streets, making sacred or secular communities. This statement above is a prime example of his gifts.  

The end is reconciliation, the end is redemption, the end is the creation of the beloved community.  

Beloved community is a phrase that has been adopted and used widely since Dr. King walked this earth with us, and yet we still haven’t achieved it, partly because I’m not sure we fully understand what it means to be a beloved community.          

I found in the words of Ms. Amanda Gorman, the Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, a phrase that might help us come to a greater understanding of the question begged to be asked: What is beloved community? Gorman has supplied, in part, an answer: “…yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.”[2]

Beloved community is not a destination, it is not a location, it is not a safe house, a safe street. Beloved community is an ever growing, ever changing, ever evolving goal of radical equality for all. Beloved community requires everyone to be free to be themselves. But it’s more than merely rabid individualism.

Beloved community can be ours if we free others from our expectations of them, and in the process, free ourselves from the burden of monetizing, assessing, measuring and otherwise judging the value and worth of others.  

There’s an old proverb that says if you want to keep a person down on the ground, you must be down with them, holding them. Meaning, you are robbed of your own freedom as you rob others of theirs.

 Beloved community will only be achieved if we free ourselves and each other of the burden of being the other, of pretending that we’re separate from the other. There is no other; there is only us.      

Beloved community can be ours if we can but learn to show each other kindness and grace.

Beloved community is built on grace shared between us. You to me, and me to you. Grace in the place that lies between you and I.

Rev. Joe