Monday, March 31, 2008

Remembering King, part 2

This is part two of a series this week, remembering Revd. Dr Martin Luther King. Part one is below. I invite your comments on the tone of King’s message, and whether it has resonance today.

At the end of the Montgomery bus boycott, when the Supreme Court issued a bus desegregation order, King stood before a large gathering in order to give final instructions before people started using the buses once again.

Aware they had won a great victory, King is keen that they win not only in the law courts, but in the individual court of each person’s heart,

Our experience and growth during this past year of united non-violent protest has been of such that we must respond to the decision with an understanding of those who have oppressed us and with an appreciation of the new adjustments that the court order poses for them. We must be able to face up honestly to our own shortcomings. We must act in such a way as to make possible a coming together of white people and colored people on the basis of a real harmony of interests and understanding. We seek an integration based on mutual respect.

This is the time we must evince calm dignity and wise restraint. Emotions must not run wild. Violence must not come from any of us, for if we become victimized with violent intents, we will have walked in vain, and our twelve months of glorious dignity will be transformed into an eve of gloomy catastrophe. As we go back to the buses let us be loving enough to turn an enemy into a friend. We must now move from protest to reconciliation. It is my form conviction that God is working in Montgomery. Let all men of goodwill, both Negro and white, continue to work with Him. With this dedication we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man to the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Remembering King, part 1

This coming Friday (April 4th) sees the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of Revd. Dr Martin Luther King Jnr.

Today and each day this week I’ll be posting a quote from him, and I invite you to comment on the relevance of parts of his message to contemporary people.

In 1964 Revd. Dr King was awarded the Nobel peace prize. In his acceptance speech he said,

I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life which surrounds him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight or racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centred men have torn down, other-centred men can build up.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A belated Easter thought

I had wanted to blog about this pic just before Easter…ah well…

On the Saturday before Palm Sunday, as a family we were out at a local outdoor play area, and as we left I looked back and saw this sprayed on the wall. I’ve no idea who did it, nor what their motivations might be. I don’t know who the “weak” are that it is referring to. And yet, as I saw it, I was instantly reminded, in that mysterious and holy of times, that it is the weak that God has chosen to shame the strong, and the foolish to shame the wise.

This Easter, in preparing to lead people in reflecting on the story, in watching the very excellent “The Passion” on the BBC, and in personal prayers, I have seen afresh just how inconspicuous much of what Jesus did really was. On Palm Sunday, according to Matthew’s account, the inhabitants of Jerusalem had no idea who Jesus was, it was the people from the north who knew him, who cheered as he entered as king. And whatever the scale of the event, it wasn’t enough to warrant interference from the rather touchy Roman occupiers.

In Matthew’s gospel it isn’t the turning of the money-changers tables over in the courtyard of the temple that arouses their interest and anger, but the acceptance of children’s praise later on.

Jesus, often unnoticed, gets on with establishing, strengthening and extending the kingdom of God wherever he is, and then, weak, battered and alone is raised on a cross.

Truly, the weak become heroes.