On Monday, January 18th, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We will forever remember Dr. King not only as a leader of the Civil Rights movement, but as a man who helped our country live out its ideals, prompting people to come together in the face of adversity, and even more, calling people to draw closer to God.
I would like to share with you some of his words and challenge our community to continually seek to further the kingdom of God, working towards compassion, truth, justice, and reconciliation by loving God and loving our neighbors.
In a devotional speech (1), Dr. King once challenged his audience, saying:
“Seek God and discover Him and make Him the power in your life. Without Him all of our efforts turn to ashes and our sunrises into darkest nights. Without Him, life is a meaningless drama with the decisive scenes missing. But with Him we are able to rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyance of hope. With Him we are able to rise from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy. St. Augustine was right—we were made for God and we will be restless until we find rest in Him.”
In a sermon (2) in 1967, he went on to say,
“Love yourself, if that means rational, healthy, and moral self-interest. You are commanded to do that. That is the length of life. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. You are commanded to that. That is the breadth of life. But never forget that there is a first and even greater commandment. ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind.’ This is the height of life. And when you do this you live the complete life.”
Dr. Kings’ words not only pose as a challenge to his audience then but likewise prompt us into action today.
So, let us, as a community, bound by our mutual faith in the Lord Jesus, seek to love the Lord our God with our whole being and choose to further God’s kingdom on this earth by loving one another. In our diversity, let us find unity. Instead of avoiding difficult issues, let us seek to understand and empathize, to find common ground so we might continue to build one another up for the gospel. For as King said, “When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.”
Taking these words to heart, let us come together.
As scripture (3) encourages us, “And let us not lose hope for one day we will see a great multitude that no one can number from every nation, from all the tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels will be standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they will fall on their faces before the throne and worship God saying ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen. “
God bless you all and thank you for joining our community in honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1) From a devotional speech made by Dr. King at the National Conference on Christian Education of the United Church of Christ, held at Purdue University in the summer of 1958.
2) The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life, delivered at New Covenant Baptist Church in Chicago on April 9, 1967.
3)Based on Revelation 7:9