This week, our nation paused to remember the life of a man who was a symbol of change in a time of turmoil, a symbol of courage in the face of the sin of racism. For me, Martin Luther King, Jr. has also been a hero I have looked up to in ministry, because he was passionate as well as articulate about the kingdom of God. He had embraced a vision from Jesus that compels us to change hearts and lives as well as address injustice everywhere. He was a magnificent leader, a great peacemaker in the spirit of Christ.
On Monday, I listened to the speech Dr. King made on the steps of the state capital in nearby Montgomery, Alabama. His “How Long?” speech was at the conclusion of the third March from Selma to Montgomery in March of 1965. The marches were to address the restoration of voting rights and the injustice of “legal” practices such as literacy tests that exclude.
I was moved to tears. This is in part because it occurred to me that this speech took place less than a month before I was born. I have literally grown up in a culture of change, and the change has not been easy. One phrase from his speech that rings into the depths of my soul is “How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.”
During the season of Epiphany, I am continuing my sermon series “Your Light Has Come.” I have a passion for the idea that Christianity pervasively changes our sense of who we are, of how we approach ourselves and how we approach each other. This enlightenment comes layer by layer in the journey of life, as we behold the light of who Christ is.
We have looked so far at the themes of “Living the Light” and “Remembering the Voice of Your Baptism.” It occurs to me that Martin Luther King, Jr. lived out his baptismal calling and claimed that voice that spoke when Jesus was baptized. He believed in the kingdom of God as one in which everyone is beloved, everyone is a child of God. And he certainly walked as a child of the very light that shone brightly into his own soul.
A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.