I still remember the day 50 years ago. I was living in Kansas City, and learned that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. I may only have been 14, but Dr. King was already one of my heroes who had awakened my conscience and consciousness about powerful and important issues.
What I did not fully understand then, but do now, is that his vision of equality and justice for African-Americans was actually part of his larger vision of what God’s reign on earth looks like. That vision is still compelling, powerful and divinely inspired. Sure, progress has been made. But sadly, the sin of racism in all of its manifestations is so deeply embedded in our culture that we have a long journey ahead of us.
Many people will say many things today. Some of it will be insightful and brilliant. Some droll and pedantic. And, sadly, some hateful. Ultimately, however, what needs to be said is quite simple. The work we yet have to do is not primarily ideological or political, although it is often the lens people use to support or deride it. It is first and foremost moral and spiritual – deeply moral and spiritual – that is lived out in the midst of real life as we address real-life issues.
Those of us who still bask in the glory of celebrating the resurrection of the risen Christ know it is God’s deepest desire that we treat others the way God treats us – with unconditional love, compassion, respect, dignity and equality. Not just in our own lives; but in every aspect of life.
So let’s get to work, joining hands in the spirit of Dr. King’s words that are so fitting 50 years after his death, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Come, Holy Spirit, come!