MLK - Monday Musing, January 18, 2021
MLK. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day throughout our nation. Established in 1983, this annual federal holiday, held on the third Monday in January, celebrates the life achievements of MLK, an influential clergyman, activist, and American civil rights leader. Dr. King’s life-accomplishments, biography, and famous speeches and quotes are widely known. The holiday is dedicated to a day of service, when Americans are encouraged to heed The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words: “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”
In his remarks during the lighting of the peace candle yesterday, The Rev. Russ Allen highlighted The Rev. William Arthur Dimmick’s actions following MLK’s assassination on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN. Dr. King was in Memphis to support the city’s African American unionized sanitation workers. The workers had gone on strike for better wages and working conditions, to fight for dignity and respect. Dr. King was there because he believed that the labor movement and the civil rights movement shared the same goals and values. He believed – as do most of us – that you cannot have racial justice without economic justice, and people of color – then and now – face civil rights and economic disadvantages over whites.
It is not lost on people of faith that Dr. King was “one of us” – a dedicated Christian whose work was guided by his faith. I mentioned in yesterday’s message that each generation calls new disciples to follow Jesus, which has me wondering who is carrying the torch of MLK since clearly his work was not completed at the time of his assassination. The words of Steve Garnaas-Holmes resonate with me on this very question:
Every great hero is the tip of an iceberg. Few of us are called to be the tip. But all of us are called to take part, to be the bit that holds the chunk that lifts the tip that changes the world. The hero is not the powerful one. The movement is the power. The leader is simply asking us to do our part. We are made of the same stuff, all of us, called to the same work, leaning toward the same dream. God chooses which bit is at the tip. But we choose to be part of the movement, trusting that our small part is not small. You may be an even greater inspiration to your neighbor, without ever knowing. To be Martin is not our choice, but to be in the march with him is. Choose.
I said yesterday that Jesus did not conduct a national search to locate the most qualified disciples, he found interesting people along the way whom he called to follow him. Interesting people – just-like-you. None of us may end up being the tip of the iceberg leading the charge of important tasks like the work of MLK, yet heeding Dr. King’s words: “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”