As I write, our nation is observing the holiday celebrating the life and ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr. I keep a picture of him preaching in my study.
The picture reminds me of the power of the gospel, and those willing to live and die for it. It reminds me of the life-giving importance of living a dream, when the dream is a God-breathed vision of the kingdom of God ushering into our world. It reminds me of the power of courageously taking up the cross for what is right and good, despite the cost. So many saints have gone before us to stand for truth and justice.
I was born in 1965 in the throes of the Civil Rights Movement, so I don't remember a time when I didn't know his name. I am still surprised in church work when I encounter children who know more about him than his namesake, reformer Martin Luther. He is a hero of our culture, no doubt.
Yet we have a long way to go still to heal the wounds of the deepest and oldest sin of our nation, racism. I pray for the dream to continue to compel us.
As a son of the South, a descendant of confederate soldiers, and a Birmingham native, this is close to my heart. I have signed the Birmingham Pledge and manage a Facebook page promoting it. I sponsor the online Findagrave memorial for Fred Shuttlesworth, companion of Dr. King from Birmingham. And on a personal level, I commit myself to building bridges however I can.
I am also of the James Taylor generation, so I share with you today the text of one of his songs that rings through my head today thanks to the Facebook post of a friend. Let us remember those who stand for what is right, with compassion and commitment. They embody the ministry of Christ.
"Shed A Little Light"
Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the earth.
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood,
That we are bound together in our desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong.
We are bound together by the task that stands before us and the road that lies ahead.
We are bound and we are bound.
There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist.
There is a hunger in the center of the chest.
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist.
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest.
Shed a little light, oh Lord, so that we can see, just a little light, oh Lord.
Wanna stand it on up, stand it on up, oh Lord,
wanna walk it on down, shed a little light, oh Lord.
Can't get no light from the dollar bill, don't give me no light from a TV screen.
When I open my eyes I wanna drink my fill from the well on the hill,
do you know what I mean?