I' m reposting this from last year's post on MLK day. (This may become a tradion on this blog) ...How I wish he were still here as a mentor, spiritual guide and political voice alive today.
"I've been reading a lot of Martin Luther King's writings and sermons and especially today though I should highlight two passages from two different sermons. One much more personal but both deeply moving to me. We have so much still to learn from from Martin. Had he not been killed he would be 76 this month.
Here is the first quote on what we might call today a holistic view of the Gospel:
"And what I’m doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man. Not merely his soul, but his body. It’s all right to talk about heaven. I talk about it because I believe firmly in immortality. But you’ve got to talk about the earth. It’s all right to talk about long white robes over yonder, but I want a suit and some shoes to wear down here. It’s all right to talk about the streets flowing with milk and honey in heaven, but I want some food to eat down here. It’s even all right to talk about the new Jerusalem. But one day we must begin to talk about the new Chicago, the new Atlanta, the new New York, the new America.
And any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men (Well
) and is not concerned about the slums that cripple the souls—the economic conditions that stagnate the soul (Yes
) and the city governments that may damn the soul—is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion (Yes, Amen
) in need of new blood."And from another sermon, this very personal story:
"But I never will forget one night very late. It was around midnight. And you can have some strange experiences at midnight. (Yes, sir
) I had been out meeting with the steering committee all that night. And I came home, and my wife was in the bed and I immediately crawled into bed to get some rest to get up early the next morning to try to keep things going. And immediately the telephone started ringing and I picked it up. On the other end was an ugly voice.
That voice said to me, in substance, "Nigger, we are tired of you and your mess now. And if you aren’t out of this town in three days, we’re going to blow your brains out and blow up your house." (Lord Jesus
I’d heard these things before, but for some reason that night it got to me. I turned over and I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn’t sleep. (Yes) I was frustrated, bewildered.
And then I got up and went back to the kitchen and I started warming some coffee, thinking that coffee would give me a little relief. And then I started thinking about many things. I pulled back on the theology and philosophy that I had just studied in the universities, trying to give philosophical and theological reasons for the existence and the reality of sin and evil, but the answer didn’t quite come there.
I sat there and thought about a beautiful little daughter who had just been born about a month earlier. We have four children now, but we only had one then. She was the darling of my life. I’d come in night after night and see that little gentle smile. And I sat at that table thinking about that little girl and thinking about the fact that she could be taken away from me any minute. (Go ahead)
And I started thinking about a dedicated, devoted, and loyal wife who was over there asleep. (Yes) And she could be taken from me, or I could be taken from her. And I got to the point that I couldn’t take it any longer; I was weak. (Yes)
Something said to me, you can’t call on Daddy now, he’s up in Atlanta a hundred and seventy-five miles away. (Yes) You can’t even call on Mama now. (My Lord) You’ve got to call on that something in that person that your Daddy used to tell you about. (Yes) That power that can make a way out of no way. (Yes)
And I discovered then that religion had to become real to me and I had to know God for myself. (Yes, sir) And I bowed down over that cup of coffee—I never will forget it. (Yes, sir) And oh yes, I prayed a prayer and I prayed out loud that night. (Yes)
I said, "Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right. (Yes) I think I’m right; I think the cause that we represent is right. (Yes) But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now; I’m faltering; I’m losing my courage. (Yes) And I can’t let the people see me like this because if they see me weak and losing my courage, they will begin to get weak." (Yes) I wanted tomorrow morning to be able to go before the executive board with a smile on my face.
And it seemed at that moment that I could hear an inner voice saying to me, (Yes) "Martin Luther, (Yes) stand up for righteousness, (Yes) stand up for justice, (Yes) stand up for truth. (Yes) And lo I will be with you, (Yes) even until the end of the world."
And I’ll tell you, I’ve seen the lightning flash. I’ve heard the thunder roll. I felt sin- breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul. But I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No, never alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me, (Never) never to leave me alone." As threatened an bomb was detonated on Dr. King's front porch 3 days later. No one in his family was killed, and King later said: "My religious experience a few nights before gave me the strength to face it."