Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
I’ve been doing some thinking, which is a dangerous thing these days…
Things are pretty messed up right now. People are lobbing destructive claims about other people in their communities simply because of the color of their skin or their political affiliation. Kids are afraid to go to school because of the violence they might experience. Great sums of people are making their way through life day after day without any hope of a better future.
We, as a people, are so obsessed with financial gains and economic prosperity that we’ve allowed capitalism to become our religion. We worship our bank accounts. And the evils of capitalism, of which there are many, are as real as the evils of militarism and the evils of racism.
We, as a people, spend more money on national defense each and every year than we do on all of the programs of social uplift combined. This is surely a sign of our imminent spiritual doom.
We, as a people, perpetuate a culture in which 1 out of ever 3 black men can expect to go to prison at some point in their lives. The price that we must pay for the continued oppression of black bodies in this country is the price of our own destruction.
We, as a people, enable gross injustices each and every day: racial, economic, gendered, and social injustices. And they cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.
Something has to change.
How are you feeling right now having read those words? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Are you clenching your fists in anger about the problems we have and are planning to go out and do something about them? Or are you clenching your fists in anger because you feel like I’ve criticized our country and culture?
Most of what I just wrote did not come from me, but from another preacher, one who was responsible for many of us not having to go to work yesterday: Martin Luther King Jr. And it was because he was willing to say that like what I wrote that he was murdered.
When we think about Dr. King or even when we learned about him in school, he is often white-washed and whittled down to the “I Have A Dream Speech.” But Dr. King’s life and witness was about a whole lot more than one quote, or one speech, or even one issue.
All of what we do as a church was handed down to us by those who came before us. The same was true for Dr. King. His life was a testament and witness to the power of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead which gave him the confidence to say and believe that God could make the impossible possible.
He, more than most, prayed for his words and his meditations to be worthy of the One who hung on the hard wood of the cross for people like us.
When we remember Dr. King, just as we remember Jesus, we celebrate their convictions and challenges, and we give thanks for their joy. But we must not forget the scars they bore for us!
Dr. King was repeatedly beaten and arrested and eventually murdered.
Jesus was berated, arrested, and eventually murdered.
One of the hardest prayers to pray is one that’s even harder to live out. Because if we really want our words and meditations to be acceptable in the sight of the Lord they might lead us toward the valley of the shadow of death. But what is resurrection if not a promise that death is not the end?