Embody the Message 

January 12, 2021

This Sunday, we will celebrate the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Across the nation, his courageous and prophet words and vision will be shared in pulpits, social media, and beyond on this holiday weekend.  Certainly, this is an opportunity for each of us to honor his life and legacy, his writing and accomplishments. Furthermore, we are welcomed to embody the message of his life in new and meaningful ways.

In King’s sermon “The Drum Major Instinct”, he recalled having meaningful conversations with the guards while jailed.  Many times, the guards would attempt to convince Dr. King that his movement for justice was wrong-headed.  According to the wardens and guards, protesting for justice and racial equity was wrong.  They tried to persuade Dr. King that the loftier pursuit was to maintain segregation. 

In wisdom, Dr. King spoke in even tone for days finally asking the guards how much they were getting paid. Upon hearing their wages, he invited them to march with the movement.  Their low wages and lack of pay equity should have had them on the side of Black and Brown folks with whom their lives had more in common.  They held onto the myth of racial superiority, which blinds many to the true dynamics of oppression, much like many who participated in the siege on our Capitol last week.

Embodying the message of Jesus Christ asks the same of us, that no matter our circumstances, we must speak truth to power with great compassion and courage.  In doing so, the truth may pierce through the rhetoric and even the myths of being right to help us know we should be on the same team with similar goals of empowerment and equity. If they don’t persuade others to a way authentic justice, the message still persuades us to continue becoming our best selves who will do and say what is right.

Plymouth, we could listen to his mighty words and tangentially engage them—or we could embody King’s spirit to the point that we build coalitions, resist fear, and extend grace tied up in powerful truth.  Plymouth, we can do this on the corner with those who stand for Black lives, in our emails to our representatives, in marching together in the MLK parade (masked and distanced) or even in a jail cell. We are not simply studying Jesus; we are covenanting day by day to be like Jesus, the embodied reality of his way in the world.  As we welcome the Rev. Amantha Barbee as our preacher this Sunday, let us assume the sermon is a personal invitation to be the Dr. King of this current age.  May the life of Rev. Dr. King be so embodied that we cultivate his vision of justice with every breath. 

Topics: Church Life



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