We all know that this Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday that marks the birthday of the Rev. Dr. King - whose actual birthday is January 15, 1929. President Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later, although it took some states over a decade to formalize their obervances. I had forgotten that this holiday is rather new, and the conflict over its validity is quite recent.
Which is not surprising, because Dr. King spoke challenging words-- not only calling out white folks and institutions for racism, but also calling out the United States Government for the Vietnam War, and for its militarism and its policies that contribute to poverty. He called out churches for being "social clubs" rather than places of spiritual vibrancy and progress. He called out clergy for being complacent supporters of the status quo. Dr. King continues to challenge us mightily.
This Sunday, we will hear from our own Rev. Renee Manning, who will wonder about how we can continue to work towards Dr. King's vision of beloved community.
"I still have a dream that one day all of God’s children will have food and clothing and material well-being for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, and freedom for their spirits. I still have a dream this morning: one day all of God’s black children will be respected like his white children. I still have a dream this morning that one day the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and everyone will sit under their own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid."
The American Dream: Sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, July 4, 1965.