I am reflecting on the recent MLK Day March and Celebration held Jan. 21 at First United Methodist Church.
The joy of the day’s celebration is still reverberating in my mind and soul a week and a half later. It was a truly a great moment to witness this community coming together in a bold new way and to catch a glimpse of what surely Heaven will look like when all of God’s children are gathered as one. I have watched the video, read the articles and followed the comments on social media. If I knew how to tweet, I would twitter it too…but that is for another day.
It wasn’t until my tenure at seminary in Atlanta, Ga. (2002-05), that I was confronted head-on with the impact of Dr. King’s struggle and the legacy he left behind for my and future generations. I had the privilege of studying at Emory University and sitting at the feet of some of those who had walked and talked and struggled and triumphed with Dr. King. My wife and I were blessed to be able to take our young daughter to the Sweet Auburn area near downtown Atlanta were we visited the house and neighborhood Dr. King grew up in until he was 12 years old. Although under renovation at the time, we toured the original Ebenezer Baptist Church and then worshipped in the new (and much larger) building across the street that is now the main campus of this historic church. And I am still moved to the point of tears when I remember the sight of the final exhibit at the King Center in which you gaze upon a bridge with several persons crossing over – these persons are representative of all of us – they come from all walks of life, culture and race. They are going “to the other side” and as you follow their footsteps you realize the direction of their march is “on the prize.” As you gaze out through a large bank of windows, you realize their goal – and ultimately our goal as well – is focused upon what brought us all to this moment in our nation’s history. We are all marching toward the tomb of Dr. King and all of that for which is stands which is located so eloquently across the street from the King Center. This final vignette brings it all home for the visitor to the Center and to one’s encounter with the legacy of Dr. King then and now. You realize in a most profound way that the journey of these persons on the bridge is really the journey that all of us are on.
I am proud of this community in which we are striving to break down barriers of separation and coming together in the name of Christ. I am proud of Bethlehem Baptist, Jones Chapel UMC and First UMC for risking something “new and different” in this day and age. I am hopeful that all of us continue to journey onward toward the prize of freedom and justice for all. “And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”
Pastor Larry McRorey