Updated: Aug 31, 2018
Today is April 3rd, and it is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I grieve the loss of this incredible man, whose work for racial justice and equality, brought awareness and understanding to the American people. When I was living in Washington, DC during my internship, Charlie and I visited the MLK, Jr Memorial a few times. The biggest part of the memorial is a huge mountain with the likeness of MLK Jr carved into it, facing the Potomac, as if to remind us that he was another Moses who led people from bondage to freedom, from darkness to illumination. He had a passion to speak out against injustice and oppression, with a charisma that caused his opposition to fear him.
At the entrance to the memorial is a wall with his most significant quotes carved into the granite. One quote in particular touches my heartstrings. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." (Letter from Birmingham City Jail). In 1956, Dr. King was jailed because he defied a court injunction and led protesters without a permit, encouraging a boycott of white-owned stores. Eight white, “moderate” clergy members criticized the march and other demonstrations in a statement to the Birmingham News. MLK Jr. wrote a response in the margins of the paper and aided by his lawyer, smuggled it out of the jail. The 7,000-word document became a landmark document to the civil-rights movement.
Fifty years have passed, and we still live in a tension-filled world with regard to civil rights. The poor are still poor, people of color are still treated as “less-than”, LGBT people struggle to live their lives without fear of discrimination for jobs and housing, Muslims are treated with suspicion, people whose first language is anything other than English are expected to forego their native language in order to fit in … we still have so far to go.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul insists that there is one gospel for all humanity, brought first to the Jewish people, but indeed, meant for all people. All people have a right to live in peace and harmony, without fear. There are more and more people straining to live from day-to-day. There seems to be an up-surge of people utilizing the services of soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other social service agencies in general. Dr. King’s observation that injustice is pervasive, and does not just affect the least of these, but in reality, has a profound impact on all of society.
May you be encouraged during this Easter season to pray for those less fortunate. May you strive to encourage racial, religious, ethnic, gender and social justice for all. May you seek ways that you might have an impact to our community and beyond. Finally, I pray that you are inspired by God’s Most Holy Spirit, in all your endeavors.
In Christ’s peace!