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April 10 – Howard Thurman

Today’s Bible reading

Read Isaiah 5:1-7

I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines.

More thoughts for meditation about Howard Thurman

Born in Florida in 1899, Howard Thurman was raised primarily by his grandmother – a former slave.  He showed signs of a vibrant spiritual life early, and would read the Bible to his grandmother.  Thurman tells the story in his most famous work Jesus and the Disinherited that his mother would not permit him to read anything by the apostle Paul (besides 1 Corinthians 13) because the abusive theology that the white preachers would perpetrate on her and other enslaved people — biblical mandates to be “good slaves.”

Thurman grew as a pastor and academic, often in ways that convince many people to call him a mystic.  He had a significant bond with Quaker leader and pacifist Rufas Jones of Haverford College (the key leader of the organization that became the American Friends Service Committee) which led him to leading a delegation to meet with Mohandas Gandhi.

As a theologian, Thurman was a pioneer in articulating Jesus’ mission of liberating oppressed people. He taught that “if you ever developed a cultivated will with spiritual discipline  the flame of freedom would never perish.”  He served as one of the pastors of the first intentionally interracial church in the US — The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco.  As a friend of Martin King, Thurman became a spiritual adviser and mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr.  Howard Thurman is usually credited with the development of the nonviolence theories and tactics that were central to the Civil Rights Movement. Thurman wrote over twenty books besides speeches and articles.  He died on this day in 1981.

Listening to Howard Thurman

Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace. — from Meditations of the Heart

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.
During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.

Suggestions for action

Listen. Thurman was a good listener to God and others, and to his own genius. You have all those resources today, as well. Listen to them and see if you are en-couraged and directed.

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