Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the "fight with fire" method … is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community. Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that. Yes, love — which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one’s enemies — is the solution to the race problem.

— Martin Luther King Jr., 1957

In January we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, and we remember his eloquence and desire for us to become a "beloved community."

The very act of coming together to connect in the power of love is like a sacrament: it’s an outward sign of an inward willingness to become friends. Coming together is a gesture that says we want to connect and we want to learn from each other. Coming together in the spirit of love signifies that what we have to offer one another is good, honorable and sacred. Coming together gives love the chance to germinate in fertile soil to grow understanding, healing and reconciliation.

Recently, people of all faiths came together for Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT)’s Day of Thanks to remember that we really do belong to each other. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and many others, all came together to say love reveals the goodness in each other. This goodness inspires us to work together for peace, for we know that together we can do so much more than alone.

During the service a Litany of Compassion and Hospitality was shared. It was a call and response:

READER: The Bible says, “From one nation God made all nations, that they should inhabit the whole Earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” We are one human family, we share a common ancestry.

PEOPLE: “We will reach out, speak out, and act out of love for our sisters and brothers.”

READER: Thomas Merton wrote, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.” We establish our humanity through acts of love and kindness.

PEOPLE: “We will reach out, speak out, and act out of love for our sisters and brothers.”

 

The litany continued to include a quote from the Dalai Lama: “… if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.” And this from George Washington: “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions.” And from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. We will not be silent. We will not be still.”

As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let us commit to a future of compassion and hospitality. When we listen to world’s faith traditions, we hear the call for love and compassion. And if we look at the hearts of the faithful, we see the commitment to speak and act according to those principles.

In this New Year, may we all do our part in listening together, to create and participate in Dr. King’s “beloved community”!

The Rev. Stephen Kinney and the Rev. Daryl Horton are board members of Interfaith Action of Central Texas and Simone Talma Flowers is the Executive Director. interfaithtexas.org.