Thank God for another opportunity this year to reflect on the great legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.!
As I celebrate his birthdate and reflect upon the contributions of this great leader of our time, this year, I find myself in historic Goliad, a new place and a new home for me. During my reflection, I remember the many speeches and contributions that Martin Luther King Jr. made in his short life to change a nation and influence the world.
Most of us indeed know even better now what a remarkable contribution Dr. King made and the legacy he left for many of us. Many of us know Martin Luther King Jr. as a social activist and civil rights leader who changed America and the world. He was also a great preacher and the words from his sermons and speeches still impact some of us as we recall the famous words from his “I Have a Dream” speech. (I read the speech to myself each year.)
While that speech was delivered more than 40 years ago, many of those words are so relevant for our nation and in our local community even today. King wrote, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
This “soul force” can be evident in the words of our mouths and certainly in the meditation of our hearts. As I reflect on those words, I am reminded, too, that the sting of racial prejudice, whether coming from hundreds or from a single individual, is a sting nonetheless.
United Methodist Bishop Woodie White, writes a letter to Dr. King each year on the birthdate. In his 2012 letter, Bishop White wrote, “perhaps that is the difficulty of navigating race in America as an identified racial minority - that is, the unpredictability of encountering racism in day-to-day living. One must always be prepared. It can manifest itself in so many different places and in so many different forms. In a classroom, office, department store counter, a committee meeting, a casual conversation. One simply never knows. … Many years ago I likened racism to Johnson grass, that tough, elusive type of grass that seems to defy destruction. When it appears to be eradicated, it shows up elsewhere. It can even grow through tiny cracks in cement! One thinks it’s gone, and then discovers it was only dormant.”
As I take time this week to pause, to reflect, to remember, and to celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy I encourage my new “Beloved Community” to be people in which the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts are acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.