Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3.16
And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

Matthew 23.29-30
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

We cannot say we want your blessing God, but don’t disturb us too much. — Dr. Russell Moore

Am I buggin’ you? I don’t mean to bug ya. — Bono, speaking about apartheid in the middle of “Silver and Gold” — Rattle and Hum Live Concert Recording

Reflection: Decorating the Tombs of the Prophets
By John Tillman

Two weeks ago in Memphis, the city where 50 years ago Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated outside the Lorraine Motel, many brought wreaths to place at the motel, which now houses the National Civil Rights Museum.

Oh, how we love to decorate the tombs of the prophets.

The remarks below are excerpted from Dr. Russell Moore’s opening keynote address to the MLK50 conference, hosted in Memphis by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and The Gospel Coalition.

Jesus says you honor the prophets, and yet what the prophets said to you was from God, and the prophets told the people of God that they could not serve Baal and God…And yet time and time and time again, when told they could not serve both, the people of God tragically often chose to worship Baal but to rename him God.

And time and time again, in the white American Bible Belt, the people of God had to choose between Jesus Christ and Jim Crow. Because, you cannot serve both. And tragically, many often chose to serve Jim Crow and to rename him Jesus Christ.

“Your fathers,” Jesus says, “would not have minded the prophets either, if the prophets were dead. Your fathers would not have minded the prophets either, if the prophets would not speak. And now that there is no need to worry that they will say anything else it is easy to honor them.”

Martin Luther King is relatively non-controversial in American life, because Martin Luther King has not been speaking for 50 years. It is easy to look backward and to say “if I had been here I would have listened to Dr. King,”—even though I do not listen to what is happening around me in my own community, in my own neighborhood, in my own church.

But Jesus Christ is not dead anymore.

The most difficult thing about following a risen and reigning prophet, priest, and king, is that he will not leave us alone. He will keep bugging us. He will keep saying uncomfortable things to us. He will not stop challenging us to break down our idols.

We cannot say we want your blessing God, but don’t disturb us too much; we want your blessing God, but don’t change our order of worship; we want your blessing God, but don’t change our institutions of power; we want your blessing God, but don’t change our systems.

And if we have to change our worship styles, let’s crucify our worship styles. If God’s way upsets our political alliances, let’s crucify our political alliances. To be a gospel people means that we don’t seek a cheap reconciliation, but a cross reconciliation.

On The Park Forum, we have written extensively on the subject of race and racism. Why would we devote so much time and so many words to the attempt to break down the cultural idol of racism?

Because it is the idol that our culture can’t seem to eradicate. Just as there were always idols of Baal to be found around Israel, there always seem to be idols to racism standing in corners of our hearts, our homes, our cities, and even our churches.

May we seek Christ’s mercy and give ourselves to him as instruments of his suffering pursuit of justice, instruments of his reconciling love, and instruments of his restorative redemption.

Jesus say something
I am someone, I am someone
I am someone — Silver and Gold, U2

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, and evil cannot dwell with you. — Psalm 5.4

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Ecclesiastes 3 (Listen – 3:02)
1 Timothy 5 (Listen – 3:22)

Further Posts on Racism

Racism Wears a Mask
Racism is not just an individual crime or action, it is an unseen burden we are forced to carry by our culture and our history.

Putting To Death Racial Hostility
Christians must take the lead in racial issues because we have the only viable ideology that, if we let it, will counter the ideology of hate. We cannot grow weary. We cannot tire of addressing the issue. We have the only answer.