Faces of Faith: Remembering Martin Luther King
I am writing this article on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As has been my practice, I’ve been listening again to his sermons and speeches and am moved to tears and resolve by the power of his words, the force of his personality, and a message yet to be fully embraced and implemented.
In my cynical moments I wonder if the dream will one day shape our world or if it is even remembered by some. He, like the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures, called us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. He would not have us forget that in the matters of life and living in community we are in it together or we perish.
“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have not yet to learn the simple act of walking on earth like brothers [and sisters].”
For some prognosticators of darkness, gloom, racism, sexism and division, it appears that they prefer walls to bridges and alienation to community.
The voices of hate and division echo through our land as they mouth their slurs against peoples of various cultures, races, ethnic origin, sexual orientations, and faith traditions.
Inspired by Martin’s voice and others like him, I prefer to dream, pray and work for a better day when all people are welcome in my personal life and in the religious and secular communities of our land.
My hope is for a new community where all experience, in the words of Laurie Zelman and Mark Miller, a Welcome in this Place:
Let’s talk together of a time
when we will share a fest
where pride and power kneel to serve the lonely and the least
and joy will set the table
as we join our hands to pray,
singing, welcome to this place
you’re invited to come and know God’s grace,
all are welcome, the love of God to share
’cause all of us are welcome here,
all are welcome in this place.
If we are to believe and embrace the essence of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, then the reality of all of us being God’s children should define all our ways of relating.
This truth is not limited to a single faith tradition.
Seattle, Chief of the Suquamish, said, “One thing we know, which the White Man may one day discover our God is the same God. You may think that you own Him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of humanity, and his compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers [sisters[ after all. We shall see.”
Will the dream of all our faith traditions, as so beautifully expressed by Martin, ever be fully realized? Will his words come to define the nature of our human family?
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
We will see.
Grace and peace to you my friends.
By Pastor George E. Morris, the Historic Captiva Chapel by the Sea