All creeds and cultures
Were comfortable in
His giant embrace
And all just causes
Were his to support and extol
Through sermons and allocutions
With praise songs and orations
He preached fair play and serenity
From hand cuffs and prison garb
From leg irons and prison bars
He taught triumph over loss
And love over despair
Hallelujah over the dirges and
Joy over moaning.
Fear not, we’ve come too far to turn back
We are not afraid, and
We shall overcome….
From Abundant Hope
– Maya Angelou
Since 1983, the US has observed a federal holiday to honor the birth of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (in August) and the historic and powerful Letter from Birmingham City Jail. In 1994, Congress designated the holiday as a National Day of Service – “a day on- not a day off.” As we look for ways to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, who wrote in the letter:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Let us not only remember, with songs and poems and prayers and reverence, the work of this powerful prophet, but let us recommit ourselves to the work of justice in response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Reading further from the Letter:
The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s often vocal sanction of the things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I meet young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.
What are the ways we can daily speak out and work not only for LGBT rights, but immigration, gender, racial, ethnic, and socio-economic justice for all people?
On this MLK holiday, as our nation holds the second inauguration of its first African-American president (the first president to speak out for marriage equality), civil rights leader Myrlie Evers-Williams will ask God’s blessings on the proceedings, and the openly gay son of Cuban refugees, poet Richard Blanco, will herald the day. We have come a long way since 1963, but the promise of justice for all is still on a far horizon. “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
On this MLK Day 2013, let us recommit to the passionate sacrifice and the tireless struggle the gospel requires of us.
In the struggle with you,
Patrick Evans, D.M.
Interim Executive Director