Today our neighbours in America mark the birthday of Martin Luther King. Morgan Freeman has asserted that “Martin Luther King is not a black hero but an American hero.” That is a fair statement to say the least. Martin Luther King cared so much about freedom and justice that he paid the price of his life for it. As we mark this day, we do so in the shadow of violence in Tucson, Arizona, wars that are still being waged in the Middle East, and systemic racism that still allows for different standards for different peoples.
MLK asserted that “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Those are powerful words, and they are words that should be meaningful for you and for me. As a people of God we must ask ourselves continually, “Who needs my love and my effort today?” We must seek to be the voice that cries PEACE in a wasteland of violence. Who is struggling and in need of our assistance? Who suffers and needs a peaceful and healing presence? The community of God is comprised of ‘dedicated individuals’ who execute ‘tireless’ and ‘passionate concern’ for others. That state of concern, the vigour with which it is expressed, and the willingness to sacrifice for others, are marks of a Christian community.
On MLK’s birthday let us all recommit to justice. Let us look around us and be aware of those who are oppressed. Let us embrace the notion that we can make a difference in another’s life. Let us seek to ask what sacrifice that we might make to help human progress. Let us realize that we cannot rely on others to make justice for all a reality, but that we all have a role to play in being a just society.
There is a great hymn in Common Praise entitled – “Let Streams of Living Justice” The second verse of that hymn reads:
For healing of the nations,
For peace that will not end,
For love that makes us lovers,
God grant us grace to mend.
Weave our varied gifts together,
Knit our lives as they are spun;
On your loom of time enrol us
Till our thread of life is run.
O great Weaver of our fabric,
Bind church and world in one;
Dye our texture with your radiance,
Light our colours with your sun.
Let us be a people who see that our various gifts woven together will make a fabric that cannot be torn. This is a call that we as church become one with the need in the world. MLK was a dynamic leader with a prophetic voice. His dream was expressed clearly and progress has been made because he was prepared to offer all of himself to the work of advancing human justice. We now take up his work and seek to be a people who would work for an end to war, violence, hatred, hurt, hunger, judgement and religious segregation. Let us hope that when our thread of life is run that we will have added our own colour and texture to the mosaic of God’s love.