Yesterday was the Martin Luther King holiday.
What a wonderful evolution for our country, to be officially celebrating a saint whose FBI and CIA files were thicker than the Oxford Dictionary, and who was imprisoned for his civil disobedience.
Rev. Dr. King is one of my heroes. I used to listen to his speeches on drives to and from college. What inspires me is that he (and the many in that movement with him) was foremost a person of faith whose commitments and actions came directly from that faith in God. It certainly was a social gospel faith, knowing that we are called by God to address the social conditions that make for suffering and injustice, and that God affirms the freedom and dignity of all humanity. Yet, as concerned with the moral life of humanity as he was, Dr. King’s faith was deeper than simple formulas of right and wrong, or of doing good because it is nice.
Dr. King’s faith was rooted in a trust and a connection with the God of the Universe, the Creator, whose majestic mountains dwarfed the manufactured goods so many seemed to prize and whose eternal presence made the existence of great civilizations as enduring as a passing breeze. And, perhaps most importantly, perhaps most often overlooked in his spirituality, is that Dr. King had a faith, had a trust, that the great eternal Creator was also the Source of Love, that somehow the universe itself is set up in love. Not love as something merely sentimental and soft, this is love understood as something deep, something rooted, something steely, something fierce, something that withstands the water hoses and the barking biting dogs while still walking on and loving the enemy, while still keeping eyes on the prize of the Beloved Community, the full realization of God’s Dream and intention for Creation. This is love as a soulforce, as a power stronger than violence, even stronger than death.
I believe Dr. King would be most pleased about the commemoration of his life if it called us back to that vital faith and to the causes to which that vital faith directed him, even unto death.
MLK’s life of faith is an inspiration that keeps me on the journey of following Jesus. And, since he was a church pastor and involved in a movement, MLK’s life also keeps me involved in a community of faith and believing in the church’s potential for empowering the soulforce known as love that brings justice and healing.
As we each and together journey with Jesus, let’s keep the life and vision of the Rev. Dr. King close, close enough to inform us we discern our life as Plymouth Church.
To conclude, a poem by the late great American poet Gwendolyn Brooks titled simply "Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1968"
A man went forth with gifts.
He was a prose poem.
He was a tragic grace.
He was a warm music....
read whole poem