While talking to my parishioners yesterday I realized that many of them, or at least the companies they work for, do not observe MLK Day. I then remembered that at my last church they did not recognize it either, meaning the church office was open and regular events and meetings were held.
I find that interesting for two reasons. First, it seems it is seen as a ‘black person’s day.’ At least in the communities where I have done ministry it seems that today is associated with only blacks. Why? There were whites who marched with MLK and stood up for what he was fighting for too. Plus the changes that MLK help create has truly moved us as a society in a positive direction. Maybe the fact that it is seen as a ‘black person’s day’ it means we aren’t as far along as we thought.
Secondly, he was a pastor and Christian first. Way before he was a civil rights leader he was a minister. MLK was one of the few people in our history that could be the salt and light unto the world, and do so in a country that believed in separation of church and state. Because of his faith and dedication he brought much needed change to America and now our country has commemorated him with a holiday. Why shouldn’t churches be standing up today and saying how proud we are to have one of our own commemorated in such a way? We close for Memorial Day and Labor Day (for good reasons). Why shouldn’t churches close for a day to honor a pastor?
As Obama is welcomed in as President of the United States, part of MLK’s dream has been realized. But we are still a far way off. This man wanted everyone to see our neighbors as God created them, in their image. The color of their skin, the language they speak, the views they hold never wash away the fact that they were wonderfully and fearfully made by our Creator.
Thank MLK, for your witness, your sacrifice, and for the way you still call us into action to love our neighbor as ourselves.