Fifty years ago today, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. Prophetic voices are those that speak unpopular truth in spite of opposition, that bring God's word to bear upon the times. Rev. King took the promises of Isaiah, the concerns of Jesus, the equality of the Gospel preached by Paul, and applied them to our American problems of racism, poverty, and war. Like Jesus and Dr. Jonah, his faithfulness to that vision of justice rolling down like an everlasting stream put him in the path of evil, of danger, of those profiting from injustice, and led to his death. Like many of the Biblical prophets, his life was human and not perfect, but that does not invalidate the core of what he stood for. This article gives a good reminder of the faith-based roots of Rev. King's civil rights work.
photo from Time Magazine
Fifty year anniversaries are now entering my memory. I was five, and I remember driving through Washington DC with my parents after the riots that followed Rev. King's death. My dad had a small construction company which employed mostly inner-city African-Americans from Baltimore and DC, so I'm not sure if we were there to check on a job site or on his employees or to see history, but I remember the eerily empty streets, the boarded windows of shops, the detritus of destruction, and the sense of anguish. At least some of America mourned the loss, with violent frustration.
Today's anniversary is a good time to reflect on how people of faith should be responding to injustice in our own time. Yesterday our leader stoked fear of immigrants once again by painting a dire picture of a caravan of Central Americans fleeing war and heading for the border, calling on the military to stop them. America in 2018 remains insular, fearful, divided, racist, and unjust, and many of our supposedly evangelical churches have chosen to turn a blind eye to much evil in return for a Supreme Court Justice appointment of their liking. Wherever you fall on that issue, link to this statement from a broad range of Christian leaders seeking to apply Biblical principles to current events, and prayerfully consider how we should bring faith to bear upon our own times.
And lastly I give you an example I'm proud of. Duke Cru paints a bridge every Easter Saturday, covering over the layers of student advertisements with white paint and a "Christ is Risen" message. This year they (3 of my kids) added the names of all the students killed at Parkland, and that of Stephon Clark the 22 year old young father, unarmed and in his grandmother's fenced yard, killed by anxious, jumpy policemen who mistook his identity and didn't wait to find out the truth. Jesus' death and resurrection matters, to the students of Parkland, to the Stephon Clarks of this world, to the gunmen too. Because that redemption calls out evil and brings a solution. Justice will roll down.