Good Friday MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:

In Dr. King’s Christmas Sermon on Peace, he reflects on the meaning of Easter and the hope it brings to us.

“We once again stand in the Christmas season and think of the Easter season, simultaneously, for the two somehow go together. Christ came to show us the way. Men love darkness rather than the light, and they crucified him, and there on Good Friday on the cross it was still dark, but then Easter came, and Easter is an eternal reminder of the fact that the truth-crushed to earth will rise again. Easter justifies Carlyle in saying, ‘No lie can live forever.’ And so this is our faith, as we continue to hope for peace on earth and good will toward men: let us know that in the process we have cosmic companionship.

“With this faith, we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism. With this faith, we will be able to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and good will toward men. It will be a glorious day, the morning stars will sing together and the sons of God will shout for joy.”

Link to more:

On April 3, 1968, in what was the final speech of his life, Dr. King spoke to the Memphis sanitation workers and their supporters at the Mason Temple and delivered what has become known as his “Mountain Top” speech. The final two and a half minutes of this speech offer are incredibly powerful and provide an affirmation of hope that we badly need to hear today.

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • Think back on the various insights you have gotten from Dr. King during Lent. Which of them are most powerful for you?
  • What are some specific ways you can apply Dr King’s teachings to your life?
  • Offer a prayer of commitment for any steps you have decided to take as a result of reflecting on Dr. King’s message.
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March 27 MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:

In his final speech to the SCLC national convention in August of 1967, Dr. King spoke on the topic of “Where Do We Go From Here?” In that speech, he talked about what it would mean for America to be “born again.”

“All of these problems are tied together. What I am saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, ‘America, you must be born again!’

“We have a task and now let us go out with a ‘divine dissatisfaction.’ Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort and the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice. Let us be dissatisfied until those that live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security. Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history and every family is living in a decent sanitary home. Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into a bright tomorrow of quality, integrated education. Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem, but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity. Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol houses a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy and who will walk humbly with his God. Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a might stream. Let us be dissatisfied until men recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout ‘White Power’ or ‘Black Power’ but everybody will talk about God’s power and human power.”

Link to more:

In April of 1967, Dr. King gave a powerful speech at Stanford University called “The Other America.” Here is a four-minute excerpt from the speech where he elaborates on some of the problems that we should view with “divine dissatisfaction.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • Reflect on all of the economic and materials blessings that you have in your life. Then think for a moment about how different your life would be if you grew up in “the other America” that Dr. King describes.
  • Pray for the wisdom to more fully understand the impact of poverty in our community and for some insight about how you should respond.

Coming Soon:
New McClendon Scholar in Residence Programs to Focus on MLK

Please plan to join us for one or all of three spring programs about Martin Luther King’s message for us today. Each program will feature a prominent visiting scholar as well as local clergy in Washington, DC, who are active in work for social justice.

Click here for more information

March 23 MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:
Near the end of his long “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King reflected on the role of the church in working for peace and justice.

“In deep disappointment, I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church; I love her sacred walls. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and fear of being nonconformists.

“There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deem worth to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But they went on with the conviction that they had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number, but big in commitment.

“Things are different now. The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo.. . . 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.”

Link to more:
On June 5, 1966, Dr. King preached a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church on “Guidelines for a Constructive Church.” The entire sermon is 24 minutes long, but it doesn’t really begin until about the third minute and you may want to start at that point and listen to as much of it as you want. As is often the case with King’s sermons, the last few minutes are particularly powerful.

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • Are there ways that the “fear of being nonconformists” keeps you and/or our church from being more involved with the struggles of the poor and the oppressed?
  • To use King’s metaphor, how can we make sure that our church is a thermostat and not a thermometer?
  •  Pray that you can understand more fully what it really means “to obey God rather than man.”

March 21 MLK Short Clip: ‘Your Life’s Blueprint’

** As Holy Week approaches, we’re posting very short clips at lunchtime on Wednesdays to inspire you and the many others on this list as we journey together toward Easter.**

In this two and a half minute excerpt from a speech to students, Dr. King gives advice about the principles we should follow as we plan the direction of our lives.

March 9 MLK Reflection

Power, Love, and Justice – Today’s Quote from Dr. King:

In a speech to the staff of his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in May of 1967, Dr. King talked about the meaning of power and why it is necessary to have power in order to achieve justice.

“Now that we are in this new era where the struggle is for genuine equality, we must recognize that we can’t solve our problems until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power. There again we must not be fooled about this. We must recognize that if we are to gain our God-given rights now, principalities and powers must be confronted and they must be changed.

“And we must not worry about power. We must not worry about using the word “power”, because this is what it wrong in so many instances, is that we are devoid of power. Now power is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. Power is the ability to affect change. The problem has been that all too many people have seen power and love as polar opposites. Consequently, on the one hand, that have thought of loveless power. And on the other hand they have thought of powerless love. They didn’t understand that the two fulfilled each other. And what we must understand in the non-violent movement is that power without love is reckless. And love without power is sentimental. In other words, power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. And justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

Link to more:

Here is a short (just a minute and a half) video clip of Dr. King making some of the same points about power that are found in the quote above

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • Think about some times in our country when political power has been used to help achieve justice. Do these examples give you hope that similar things can happen in the future?
  • Pray that God will give you a greater understanding of the relationship between love and power and how they interact in our world.

March 6 MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:

During the last year of his life, Dr. King focused increasingly on the question of economic inequality and how that was the new battleground in the fight against injustice. Below are a few of his well known quotes on the subject.

“They tell me that one tenth of one percent of the population controls more than 40% of the wealth. Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. . . . God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.”

“There are forty million poor people here and one day we must ask the question, ‘why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. . . . Now I’m not talking about communism. . . .What I’m talking about is far beyond communism. . . .What I’m saying to you this morning is communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism sometime forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.”

“This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”

Link to more:

In February, 1967, Harry Belafonte was a guest host of the “The Today Show” and he interviewed Dr. King about the problem of poverty in America. Here is a two and a half minute excerpt from the interview.

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • Reflect on your own life and think about specific actions you could take to show greater solidarity and support for the poor in our community.
  • Say a prayer of thanks for your own material blessings and ask God’s help in your efforts for economic justice.

March 2 MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:

One final thing that Dr. King says is necessary for peace is a belief that the world is based on a moral foundation and we can know the power of God in our lives. He makes this point near the end of his Christmas Sermon on Peace.

“If there is to be peace on earth and good will toward men, we must finally believe in the ultimate morality of the universe and believe that all reality hinges on moral foundations. Something must remind us of this as we once again stand in the Christmas season and think of the Easter season, simultaneously, for the two somehow go together. Christ came to show us the way. Men love darkness rather than the light, and they crucified him, and there on Good Friday on the cross it was still dark, but then Easter came, and Easter is an eternal reminder of the fact that the truth-crushed to earth will rise again. Easter justifies Carlyle in Saying, ‘No lie can live forever.’ And so this is our faith, as we continue to hope for peace on earth and good will toward men: let us know that in the process we have cosmic companionship.

“With this faith, we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism. With this faith, we will be able to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and good will toward men. It will be a glorious day, the morning stars will sing together and the sons of God will shout for joy.”

Link to more:

One of the most powerful recordings we have of Dr. King, is a five-minute clip from a 1967 sermon where he talks about his own experience with God and how he came to know in a personal way that God is real.

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • Reflect on your own life experience and those times when you have felt God’s presence in your life.
  • Pray that God may help you to be more aware of the “cosmic companionship” we have and the source of strength that can provide in your daily life.