The Spirit of Sacrifice
Tomorrow is a day to celebrate the life and message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each year when this day approaches, I think about an article I read a couple years ago, “Missing Martin,” which classifies King as one of our antisceptic heroes. Too often in our society, King’s message has been emasculated, even co-opted by American Dream ideologies, and dismissed as an inspirational call for social justice, to which many of us pay lip service.
The truth is that in 2009, it’s still uncomfortable to collide with King’s prophetic message. “We must recognize,” King said, “that we cannot solve our problems now until there is a radical re-distribution of economic and political power.” King always thought that the church must be the impetus of this radical movement, yet in the 1960s (and today, were he still alive), King often would condemn the church for its inability to speak truth to power.
In his famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” King explained to his audience (a group of Birmingham clergy) that “the contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.” King goes on to warn them that if the church does not seek a radical redistribution of power and exhibit the spirit of sacrifice that congealed early Christian communities, it will be dismissed as an irrelevant social club.
I encourage us all to take King’s words seriously. Plan to observe his message in thought and in action. If you live in Lexington, here are a few great possibilities:
Central Christian Church’s 18th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. community wide worship service takes place on Sunday evening, 6:00 PM
The University of Kentucky Student Affairs is sponsoring a candlelight vigil on Sunday evening at 11:00 PM.
Al’s Bar (6th and Limestone) will have an MLK open mic. The cost is $5, and all proceeds benefit Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.