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On the Eve of the Day 50 years ago that MLK, Jr was Assassinated

April 3, 2018

Fifty years ago tonight, the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr turned in for a few hours of sleep during a very difficult and hectic visit to Memphis, TN. He was there to support the Sanitation Workers in their fight for better pay and safer working conditions. That evening he spoke to the workers and shared these words: “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end.  Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through” King Encyclopedia source

That was also the same evening that he preached the immortal sermon, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” at the Mason Temple in Memphis. Dr King was weary and it seems, had a prophetic vision that his time on this earth was short. Yet right up until the end, he spoke as one of the prophets of old. His passion and his vision still inspires today.

In July of 2017, we visited the National Civil Rights Museum in the Lorraine Hotel where he was assassinated.

You could still feel the energy of his presence and in today’s atmosphere politically and socially, his energy and message is needed in such a critical way!

The resurgence of the KKK… sickening and corrupt nationalism… racism, bigotry, hatred… ignorance… the fact that in the highest office of this nation we hear attitudes and/or silence which are fanning the flames of such darkness and evil…

And, I am ashamed to say, many parts of the so-called christian (lower case is intentional) church either ignore or embrace or excuse such behavior…

These words of Dr King come to mind as I reflect on the complicity of the church either by silence or support:

The following words from the Theological Declaration of Barmen (which was the response of the Confessing Church to the Nazi Church) are also appropriate for today as they were in the 1930’s: “We reject the false doctrine, as though the church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the State, thus itself becoming an organ of the State… The church’s commission, upon which its freedom is founded, consists in delivering the message of the free grace of God to all people in Christ’s stead, and therefore in the ministry of his own Word and work through sermon and sacrament.”

As I reflect on the passage of time and the sickening reversal of the gains made in the Civil Rights Movement, my heart aches and very nearly breaks. As I remember Dr King and his message to the nation and world, my prayer is that his voice will be heard in the streets, on the mountaintops, and in the statehouses of this nation! I also look to the words of the Belhar Confession which came out of the fight against Apartheid in South Africa: “We believe that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek the right; that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need… that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

As I remember Dr King, I pray that this Padre and others will have the courage to stand up and shout a definitive “NO” to the evil rising in this nation and world. Only when we stand up to such evil will the words of the Prophet Amos which were a favorite of Dr King, ring true. Only then will justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream! Dear reader, will you stand with me?

  1. Well said! Thanks for honoring him and for continuing to fight for Justice.

    Be blessed.

  2. Keith permalink

    He was an incredible man.

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