If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
--Isaiah 58:9-12 NRSV
Some notable clergy from our denomination, The Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, participated in the recent Inauguration Prayer Service (held virtually) on Inauguration Day: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale.
This isn’t the first Inaugural Prayer Service to include Disciples ministers. In the 2009 service, then General Minister and President of the denomination, Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins gave the homily, and she also participated in the 2013 service. In 2009, 2013 and this year, Rev. Dr Cynthia L. Hale, pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, GA participated in the services. Also, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, NY participated in the 2013 service.
In this year’s service, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II gave the homily, and if you haven’t done so, I encourage you to pause your day and either read it or watch it.
Here is a link to a video of the service. The homily begins about the 44 minute mark, although the whole service is beautiful and worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNHIr4dXFbA
Here is a link to the written version of the homily: https://time.com/5931343/william-barber-inaugural-prayer-service-sermon/
The homily is a powerful statement about God’s concern for the poorest in our society and every society. Barber takes as his focus scripture verses from Isaiah 58 (some of the verses I included above).
If you are unfamiliar with Barber, I encourage you to get to know him. He is one of the founders of The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call to Moral Revival. The group takes its name from the final work of Martin Luther King Jr. which sought to unite low-income white, black and brown people to work for economic justice. This campaign was left unfinished due to the King’s assassination. You can find out more at poorpeoplescampaign.org. I especially encourage you to read the biblical justification for their important work.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Chase Peeples