“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life…But…I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But…we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And 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.”(1)
Today and every day, I remember Martin’s life of love for the dream of equality for all people.
A love, in obedience to Jesus, even for his enemies.(2)
A love that forged a civil rights movement of nonviolent power and persuasion in which enemies were “killed” with the kindness of an oppressed people standing up as equals.
A love through which lives, metaphorically and literally, were laid down for the sake of friends.(3)
Today and every day, I remember Martin’s legacy of the necessity to labor continually to make the dream of equality for all people a reality.
Today and every day, I, as a Christian, remembering Martin’s life and legacy, particularly of think of the work of the church.
Whatever folk think of the church – what it is, what it isn’t, what it does, what it doesn’t do – for me, it is no memorial society gathering weekly to recall sentimentally the life and labor of some dear, dead, departed leader. The church is a body of people who gather in the Name of a living Jesus in response to his command: “Do this in remembrance of me.”(4)
Remembering his body broken and his blood shed for the sake of saving all people from sin and death…
Remembering that God sent Jesus to be the last sacrifice, the last victim, so that no more sacrificial victims of any class or color, gender or sexual orientation, race or ethnic origin will be crucified on the twin Calvary crosses of phobia and prejudice…
Remembering to stand on the side of the ailing and alienated, the despised and despairing, the helpless and hopeless, the poor and oppressed; all the sacrificial victims of this world’s invincible ignorance of the meaning of the cross that there are to be no more sacrificial victims.
Like Martin, “I would like to live a long life” and, like Martin, “I just want to do God’s will.” To do the latter is the most faithful way for me to remember Martin’s life and legacy today and every day.
Photograph (January 14, 2012): Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington, DC
(1) From I See the Promised Land, delivered at the Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ), April 3, 1968; the evening before Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination.
(2) I have in mind Jesus’ teaching: “I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6.27).
(3) In have in mind Jesus’ teaching: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15.12-14).
(4) On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus: Took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper (Luke 22.19-20a).