by Rev. Racquel Ray
Associate Minister of Congregational Life
As we observe the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday over the coming days, may we take a moment to reflect. Most of us know the history and legacy of MLK. What can we glean and carry forward from that knowledge?
Dr. King was a revolutionary and influential leader of the American Civil Rights Movement often quoted and copied. He is “widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.”
His ministry was prophetic and visionary. He drew from his deeply held faith in the equality of all people and the need for nonviolent resistance. “Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950s and ‘60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States.” “By using the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly-impossible goals. He went on to lead similar campaigns against poverty and international conflict, always maintaining fidelity to his principles that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family.”
However, biblical history will teach us of the cost of prophetic visioning. The work of the prophet is often fraught with violent push-back and persecution. Dr. King was no exception. And perhaps this is why we can admire Dr. King and other visionaries and at the same time be intimidated by this kind of work ourselves.
We often hear the nudges of God. We have dreams and visions. We have hope and inspired ideas and yet we are often afraid to share them. What would we sound like if we stood at the pulpit and shared, “I have a dream….?” Or announced at the dinner table, “Thus saith the Lord…?” What if we followed our declarations with a new idea or innovative ministry or social change?
Somehow, we shy away from the idea. We minimize our imago Dei grandeur. We are created in the image of God, just as MLK was. Why not us?
MLK Day is not only a day of remembrance and observation. It should also serve as a day of inspiration. Beyond his charisma, gifts for oration, and intellectual and spiritual capacity he was a minister of Christ. His call for equality and his dream for justice is informed by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
In a cultural climate of dichotomous binary conflicts, dreams and visions, innovation, creativity, and bravery hold answers to a way forward for our community. Inspired by the legacy and life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may we dare to dream.
As we await the revelations that this year will bring let us wait with expectation and action. Let us proclaim the dreams and visions we receive. Let us embrace the nonviolent protest and the beloved community. Let us run the race that is set before us with endurance as we chase the ‘long arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice.’
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, J. (2024, January). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” Speech given at the National Cathedral, March 31, 1968. Retrieved from The King Center: https://www.si.edu/spotlight/mlk?page=4&iframe=true
The Martin Luther King, J. C. (2024, January). About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Retrieved from The King Center: https://thekingcenter.org/about-tkc/martin-luther-king-jr/