“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
This December I had the privilege of traveling to the MLK National Historical Site in Atlanta, Georgia. It is a beautiful park that includes a preserved neighborhood, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church where King ministered along side his father, and the house where he was born and spent his formative years. Even after all these years, there is a sense that the ground there is still somehow hallowed, and the small wooden pulpit somehow still vibrating with the words that gave meaning to a people who could no longer sit and suffer their brutal discrimination in silence. From that pulpit and so many others King gave words to a story that united us all. It was a story of peace, of wholeness, of God in this world at work with the poor and the down-trodden, the beaten and the cursed.
Jesus was a dissident. He questioned the authority of the state, the churches teaching, an unfair economic system, racial and gender roles, and in the end paid the highest possible price to change this world, and leave His bothers and sisters with a hope of a better, different world, full of love and creation. Jesus, God among us, bequeathed to us a story of a people – our people, those who are outcast, poor, beaten and tossed aside – for whom a new kingdom, a new dream is at hand. Where, with the Spirit of a living God, we will break down the walls of judgment and oppression, lift the bars of fear from our doors, and open them anew to a better more peaceful world.
King for his days took up that story, and spoke it to all of us. He dreamed the dreams of God, where all of the children would know love and peace. Where we would not fear those different from us but embrace them. He spoke out against a new Rome, its abuses, and the way that it preys on and extracts life from the poor. He spoke out against war and hatred, and in the end paid the highest of prices, so that his brothers and sisters would once again remember their story. And like he and his mother, so many others would pay the blood price of our justice for their cries among the silenced masses. They who would take up the story anew of their God would help lead us to a homeland they would never live to enter.
May those who have laid down their lives for peace and equality be at peace in the arms of the Lord whom they served with their cries for justice and love. And may we, a new generation, have the strength and courage to stand for justice, peace and love in our age as those that have come before us have done. May we all take up the story of this world, God’s world, and cry it from the mountains, so that someday our children may also know that the Kingdom of God is at hand.