What It Means to Follow Jesus
Scripture: Matthew 16:24-26
By Rev. Mary Kay Totty

March 24, 2020 will be the 40th Anniversary of the assassination and martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Romero has long been one of the saints that members of Dumbarton UMC look to for inspiration and encouragement.*  For Lent this year we will have a worship series that pairs Biblical stories with words from Romero.

For many years, Romero was a status quo, don't rock the boat guy. He was firmly part of the establishment, respected by the government of El Salvador. Folks in power considered Romero "safe," However, Romero's heart was broken open when he stepped away from the shelter of his offices to attend the wake and funeral of a priest in one of the villages. There, in the midst of impoverished people, people who time and again were innocent victims of state condoned violence, there Romero awakened to the injustice and the needs of ordinary people living on the margins. Once enlightened, Romero became a fearless and steadfast advocate for justice, for an end to violence, for better conditions for the poor. Romero used his position and privilege to challenge the injustices and to call for change. 

Many of us may have a similar path. We are simply living our lives, doing our jobs, taking care of family, going to church when we can, and to the best of our ability being kind, decent people. Then something we experience, or something we read, or something we witness, breaks open our hearts and we experience an overwhelming call to DO something. What are the events in your life that compelled you to become an advocate for justice? for inclusion? for peace? 

For me, reading "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates brought me a renewed urgency to confront racism. For a friend, the domestic terrorism attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School, as well as their own close encounter with gun violence, motivated their decision to become involved with "Moms Demand Action." When has your heart been broken open? How is God calling you to be an advocate for justice? What can you do? How might you leverage your privilege for the common good?

Romero is an inspiration to me. His story, his words embolden me for the work of justice. Who inspires you? Who provides an example of what it is like to follow Jesus? 

How are you working for justice, inclusion, and peace? What more might you do? 

*In October 2018, the Roman Catholic Church officially designated Romero a Saint.

Prayer: God of our Weary Years, God of our Silent Tears, renew us by your Holy Spirit for the work of justice, inclusion, and peace. Thank you for faithful ones who follow Jesus, may their examples motivate us to follow Jesus more fully. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. 

For further information about Archbishop Oscar Romero:  "Oscar Romero: Reflections on His Life and Writings." Marie Dennis, Renny Golden, Scott Wright. Orbis Books: Maryknoll, NY, 2000. 

Rev. Mary Kay Totty serve as the Pastor of Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Washington D.C.  Dumbarton UMC is a Justice Seeking Community.