The inauguration of any president of the United States is an opportunity to celebrate the purpose and power of this democracy.
This inauguration was a sign that, though we are not yet a perfect union, we have certainly come a long way. The inauguration festivities showcased genuine unity amid growing diversity.
I was particularly moved by the President’s deliberate choice of Bibles of President Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Moreover, The President made a conscious decision to upgrade the relevancy of these visions for a renewed struggle of justice and equality for all.
The persisting inequalities and repackaged violations of human dignity requires new responses to new challenges. But while the means will change, our purpose (and mission) endures.
Being rooted and relevant will restore integrity to our history, credibility to our activity, intentionality to our ability, and sustainability towards our destiny!
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter and the Apostles made a conscious and courageous decision to be rooted and relevant. With his ‘heart strangely warmed,’ John Wesley made a bodacious and audacious decision to ‘serve the present age.’
A ‘sit-in and sit-down’ history demands from us to speak-up-and-get-in the ongoing fight to secure human equality and dignity for all. A ‘middle-passage-freedom-riding-Jim Crow-fighting’ history provides accompaniment to secure peace through justice.
The celebration of our heritage - whether American or African American, Belizean or Panamanian, African or Caribbean - is not just an invitation to be rooted, it’s also a commission to be relevant. The power of history is how it provides a framework to gain perspective on the present, in preparation for the future.
Rooted in President Lincoln, President Obama connected the unfinished agenda of the civil rights with the ongoing struggle against discrimination such as homophobia. Planting his roots firmly in Dr. King, President Obama constructed a bridge between the ongoing struggles for civil rights with the current marginalization reformatted as xenophobia.
Becoming a more just union and beloved community is a commission to journey towards perfection on a path paved by God’s sanctifying grace, an ablazing grace rooted in more than what we deserve, yet with a relevancy greater than we can ever imagine.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit!
No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.
Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed, He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, The Message).
(The Rev. Kelvin Sauls is the pastor of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.)