The Road Ahead

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday and his legacy, I read to Katie the children’s board book “The Story of Martin Luther King Jr.” by Johnny Ray Moore:

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It’s a wonderful book and a nice introduction to children about the impact Martin’s childhood had on civil rights for people of different races and cultures. Although Katie is nowhere near old enough to understand the words, I’d like to believe that through God’s Spirit she receives a sense of the book’s message–of a little boy’s quest to make the world a better and more loving place.

I think of Martin Luther King Jr. often in my ministry.  I am too called as he was to speak out against hate, oppression and violence and to be a voice for justice, mercy and love.  Some days I fail miserably at it and other days I think I do pretty good.  Due to the efforts and sacrifices of Dr. King and many others, we’ve come along way from the cruel and horrendous slave and segregation days  of the past.  But there is a lot more work to be done.

Although blacks and whites and folks of other cultures go to school together, play together, drink from the same water fountain together, eat at the same restaurant together, etc., racism still exists.  Racism still bitterly divides us.  It occurs in more subtle and deceptive forms–social behaviors, language, politicking, job placement in college and professional sports, economics, rap songs that glorify gang violence and abuse of women, and so on.

And over the past 2 years, racism has shown us all that it’s roots in the old days still run very deep.  The hanging of nooses on college campuses (both in the North, South and Midwest), the hanging of an effigee of Barak Obama at a Christian school, racial slurs from media pundits and celebrities; chants at McCain/Palin rallies calling for Obama’s death and repeated uses of the “n” word by supporters. 

And while Tuesday’s inauguration of Obama signifies that we are close to fulfilling Dr. King’s dream, we still have to work toward building a world where the electing of a non-white (and even a female) president is no longer special or unique, but rather routine.  We still have to work toward the building of a world where race and sex and many other markers don’t solely identify any one single person.  We still have to work toward the building of a world where we recognize that in the love of God we are no longer Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free.

As we take this day to rest from work or school, let us also reflect on the road that has been trod and the road that lies ahead.  It starts with just one step. May we all walk it together.

An Affirmation Based on the Writings of Dr. King  (from PCUSA.org)

I refuse to believe that we are unable to influence the events which surround us. 

I refuse to believe that we are so bound to racism and war, that peace, brotherhood and sisterhood are not possible.  

I believe there is an urgent need for people to overcome oppression and violence, without resorting to violence and oppression. 

I believe that we need to discover a way to live together in peace, a way which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of this way is love. 

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.  I believe that right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. 

I believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. 

I believe that what self-centered people have torn down, other-centered people can build up. 

By the goodness of God at work within people, I believe that brokenness can be healed.  “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and everyone will sit under their own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid.”

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