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As I have been so often lately, I was struck by the timing of the lectionary this week, that we hear the story of Philip and Nathanael on the weekend we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. When Philip urges him to meet Jesus, Nathanael scoffs: “What good can come from Nazareth?” Dr. King was met by a similar reflexive dismissal because of where he came from, the color of his skin, and his message of peace, yet he persevered in faith and action, and changed our country – and the world.

Nathanael’s heart changed when he drew closer to the Lord and Jesus, aware of his skepticism, welcomed him. When we look past our differences, doubts, and assumptions, and draw closer to the Lord, our hearts change, too. We are reminded of the One we are to serve, and that our service must be rooted in the love He first offered us.

Where would we be if God judged us on where we come from? Regardless of our immediate lineage, we are the children of Adam, who fell. We are the children of Abraham, who doubted. We are the children of Moses, who defied, and of David, who defiled. And still, we are the children of God, because He looks past those sins and welcomes us into His family.

Let us give thanks for all the good things that come out of Nazareth, Selma, and every corner of the globe. Let us give thanks for the men and women of faith who persevere in their service to the Lord, despite prejudice, assault, and even unto death. Let us give thanks to the God who loves us, welcomes us, and forgives us, and asks us to follow Him.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.”
Psalm 139:7-10