Monday was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday — and mine. Even as a child, I considered this coincidence of birth a great privilege to steward. I grew up listening to my parents' records of the protest songs of the 60s and 70s, which formed my early imagination for the more just and loving world that Dr. King preached about.
Over time, I learned more about this hero whose birthday I shared and whose life so enlivened my imagination. When I became a Christian in my early 20s, a fuller picture began to emerge. Dr. King was an incredible leader, theologian, and pastor whose life brought about significant social change; but he was also a flawed person; a sinner, loved and forgiven by God, just like me. And as I began to read the Bible for the first time, I realized how much his vision of justice was shaped by scripture — the Hebrew prophets, the Sermon on the Mount, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the life of the early church.
In his final speech (video above), given just before his death, Dr. King said: "I just want to do God’s will…. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." (The entire speech is worth an attentive listen. Thanks to the Racial Reconciliation Group for sharing this in their weekly newsletter — talk to Jeanne Ayivorh or Buz Schultz at church sometime to learn more!)
My life is much smaller and more ordinary than Dr. King's. But I pray that it will be similarly shaped by God's word, dependent on God's forgiveness, hungry for God's justice, and marked by spiritual courage. I pray that for all of us. Russell reminded us in Sunday's sermon that all of our lives and moments matter to God, not only those that seem "spiritual." May all our lives become places where we can bravely say, with Dr. King, "I just want to do God's will."
Small groups have started but there's still plenty of time to join. Find a group that works for you and sign up!
It's a gift to be your pastor. Please reach out if you would like to talk or pray about anything this week. I'll be away this Sunday celebrating my wedding anniversary (21 years) and look forward to seeing you all when I return.