The MLK Jr. Interfaith Service at St. Mary’s in Gilroy earlier this month was a beautiful example of why different faith traditions bother to take the time to come together when we are so different. The truth is that our differences can make our similarities stand out when we gather for a common purpose. Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader of the civil rights movement that challenged our nation to make good on its statement in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Rev. Karen Cuffie

Dr. King said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” It was his faith that drove him to act on his passionate conviction. He shared his dream because he had the audacity to have hope that the dream could become a reality. In his sermon “Shattered Dreams” he once again stressed the importance of faith: “Our capacity to deal creatively with shattered dreams is ultimately determined by our faith in God.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Christian Baptist preacher, was honored and celebrated by people of many different faith traditions in that service because at the end of the day, we all share a common thread. In spite of our differences, at the core of all our faiths is love. There is some form of “Love your neighbor” in most religions and that is what unites us.   

We Episcopalians corporately renew our Baptismal Covenant several times a year. From The Book of Common Prayer, the bishop or priest asks the congregation a series of questions and one of my favorites is, “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”  

And the congregation responds with, “I will with God’s help.”

That’s the faith part, “ . . .with God’s help.” In other words, we don’t and can’t do it alone. God’s help is manifested in the people who come together for a common purpose that benefits the common good.  

I do believe that faith makes a difference in the work we do as people who strive to “love our neighbor.” Abiding in that one tenet of faith that we all share in common can change the world—one person, one church, one community at a time.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”

So when Jesus says “Love your enemies,” he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition.

The Reverend Karen Cuffie, Rector, began her ministry at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Morgan Hill in 2018. She was already well known by the parish because she is a former parishioner. Ordained to the priesthood in 2016, Rev. Cuffie is an active participant in the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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