Tomorrow marks the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination. This comes on the heels of Easter weekend, when we commemorate the sacrificial love of Jesus, and the notion that resurrection can come out of the worst of circumstances.; that love conquers hate, and
that life conquers death.
When Martin Luther King Jr. was 25, he was offered his first pulpit in Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL. Both Martin and Coretta Scott King were reluctant to
move to the deep-south. There were several teaching opportunities, and other churches further north - which would also be further from the region still full of hatred and segregation. But the Dexter church had a pull on Rev. King. And it was within their first year there that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott began. Shortly thereafter, a group of leaders met to better organize. They called themselves the Montgomery Improvement Association, and they asked Rev. King to lead it.
There are those who believe Martin Luther King was first asked to lead because of his wisdom and dynamism, and that in being new to the community, he didn't yet owe anything to the local politicians.
There are others who believe he was asked to lead because he was the new kid on the block. The thinking was, "If this all goes bad, none of us will lose our clout We'll just put it on the new minister in
Rev. King's response was simple: "Somebody has to do it. And if you think I can, I will serve."
Filled with excitement, the newly formed committee started focusing on the rally planned for that night. And the newly appointed chairman was to speak. He went home, told his wife about his new position, and spent 20 minutes making mental preparations for his speech.
Young Rev. King took the pulpit, spoke of the importance of equity and citizenship and a government for all. He then ended his speech with the following:
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you. If we fail to do this, our protest will end up as a meaningless drama on the stage of history, and its memory will be shrouded with the ugly garments of shame. In spite of the mistreatment that we
have confronted we must not become bitter, and end up by hating our white brothers. As Booker T. Washington said, 'Let no man pull you so low as to make you hate him.
If we protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in the future somebody will have to say, 'There lived a race of people...who had the moral courage to stand up for their rights. And thereby they injected a new meaning into the
veins of history and civilization.'"
My hope and prayer is that each of us - myself most certainly included - find the courage, the time, and the desire to step into the places where we are needed; whether here at church, in the community, or in the world.To say, "Somebody has to do it. And if you think I can, I will serve."
May we know that God calls us to more, and that God will meet us when we go to the places where we are called.
Grateful to be serving and walking with you!