by Kisten Thompson
We commemorate The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a Federal Holiday on the third Monday of each January. We have done this as a nation since 1986. We remember Dr. King as a civil rights leader in the 1950’s and 1960’s, as a committed proponent of non-violence as means of protest and activism for systemic change, and as a remarkable preacher, prophet and pacifist. Dr. King’s actual birthdate is January 15 and he would have been 94 years old today had his life not been cut short by an assassin’s bullet April 4, 1968 at the age of 39.
Dr. King was quite young when he sprang to national prominence in 1955. He was the associate pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL and because he had just been elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which had called for the boycotting of city public bus transportation until certain rights had been acknowledged and given, he was called upon to be the spokesperson for the boycott.
On December 5, 1955 he gave a speech outlining the reasons for the boycott and calling upon the words of the biblical prophet, Amos: “We are here this evening for serious business. We are here in a general sense because first and foremost we are American citizens, and we are determined to apply our citizenship to the fullness of its means. We are here because of our love for democracy, because of our deep-seated belief that democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth. But we are here in a specific sense, because of the bus situation in Montgomery. We are here because we are determined to get the situation corrected. . . .
My friends, I want it to be known that we’re going to work with grim and firm determination to gain justice on the buses in this city. And we are not wrong, we are not wrong in what we are doing. If we are wrong, then the Supreme Court of this Nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a Utopian dreamer and never came down to earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie. And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."
With these words and with the actions of the determined and peaceful Black residents of Montgomery, change began to happen. It was not without violence, hardship and suffering. But after 381 days, the segregated bus practices had been outlawed and a new day dawned. But it was only the beginning of a long and hard journey.
On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we remember the struggles, barriers and obstacles that were faced in every day life by African Americans in this country. And we continue to look to Dr. King’s legacy and the contributions of so many named and unnamed participants in the fight for justice, equality and inclusion, giving thanks for their dedication, and vowing to continue to uphold these values for all, to call out oppression when we see it and advocate for change where it is needed.
by Pastor Sonja Hagander
Just as the ice began to freeze on the lake this year, I headed out to shovel a rink. As I looked out across the lake, as the sun was rising, I saw someone running with a cape---no, it wasn’t superman and it turned out it wasn’t a cape, either. A man was chasing a white goose. Then another joined and another and pretty soon 5 young men were chasing a goose on an icy lake. They appeared as if they were going to capture the goose with a large piece of material. I crabbed out loud to my family: “look at those mean guys, chasing that goose all over the lake...can’t they just leave it alone?”
My husband quickly chimed simply: “Maybe they are trying to help the goose.”
Maybe they are trying to help the goose! Such a simple phrase with the power to change my interpretation.
Epiphany is like that. It is the season of illuminating discovery. It is the season when the perception of reality intensifies. It is when Jesus is branded as God. It is a eureka--an aha! With one simple phrase from my husband, the reality of what was happening on the lake came into focus. These young men weren’t out to get the goose, racing around the lake being mean. No, in fact, geese can fly and this goose wasn’t flying. It was probably injured and the reality was, those young men were taking precious time away from skating and ice fishing to help this creature, the goose.
Maybe they are trying to help the goose. Jesus' invitation to us has the same power: we can be caught up in a new way of looking at the world: Eureka!
I wonder if you’ve had a similar experience; you’re watching something, making a judgment about how things are and then, simply, with another’s insight, the reality of the situation becomes clear and things are illuminated for you. You become caught up in a new reality.
It could be the illumination that occurs with a face to face conversation--o how we long for those--that explains a messed up email exchange.
Or maybe it’s an epiphany with a larger narrative.
It could be the illumination that the phrase: “We are all immigrants,” erases the many Americans that did not immigrate here, like Native Peoples or those brought here against their will as slaves.
It could be the illumination from a friend who shares something vulnerable with you and draws you closer.
It could be the illumination about decisions leaders make for the sake of the whole.
Epiphanies often come to folks when they are afraid, clouded by doubt, wrapped tight within themselves, or in the midst of a barren land of unjust systems and death. I give thanks for those voices who are the bearers of epiphany.
Join with me in this New Year plea to God: I need a new lens God, I need a new lens, give it to us now....we call to you! Help us see, help us trust you are hidden amidst our lives. Make yourself known in our life together.
I love C.S. Lewis words: “I believe in God as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
This New Year, my hope comes from Jesus, our lens through Whom we see everything else.
Christ the King Lutheran Church
1900 7th Street NW
New Brighton, MN 55112
Office Hours: 9 am - 2 pm Mon - Thurs or by appointment
Sunday Morning Worship at 9:30 am
12 pm Cristo Rey Servicio en Español