Archives for posts with tag: Martin Luther King Jr

This time last week millions of people were remembering the death of one man and yesterday they remembered another. Their deaths were separated by over 2000 years of history.

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Seven days ago on Holy Thursday Christians around the world recalled the last hours Jesus would have with his closest followers before he was betrayed and put to death. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968.

Although Jesus and King believed in many of the same principles and practiced them at great risk, I am not trying to make them equals. Jesus was the Son of God and Son of Man. Dr. King was a human being and disciple of Jesus. Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected. King’s body rests in a tomb in Atlanta.

When they arrived they found the large stone rolled away from the tomb. (There had been a violent earthquake and an angel of the Lord had descended and rolled it back. The guards were so frightened and shaken they had run off). – Slide 2

Both men championed the cause of the poor and oppressed. They spoke out against injustice and acted on their beliefs. The Bible record shows many encounters between Jesus and the marginalized people of his day. He was accused of associating with the riff-raff of society. And he was intentionally guilty. The life of Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly illustrates his commitment to justice and equality for all. His beatings and arrests are proof that his words were not just pious platitudes but principles by which he lived.

Love and hate were both equally shown to Jesus and King. The biblical account and the news reports describe the intensity of support and rejection for both of them. Each of them died a violent death. One was executed by the Roman government at the insistence of the crowd in Jerusalem. The other was the victim of an assassin’s bullet on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

There are similarities to their life and death, but the immediate reaction to the death of these two men was very different. Jesus’ death left his followers frightened and confused. Their leader on whom they had placed their trust was gone and they did not know what to do. They hid for fear of their lives. In contrast, King’s death sparked violent protests around the country. Those who had followed him were angry and aggressive.

Although the short term result of the death of these two charismatic leaders is different, the long term effect is similar. Over twenty centuries of history has validated the positive effect of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Those who followed his teaching and example carried his message to every part of the world and countless others have believed and their lives have been transformed.

Kevin Cokley, writing in the Dallas News, said, “The assassination of King was arguably the most consequential for the course of American history and permanently changed the psychology of black people and challenged America’s ideals.” The death of this “drum major for justice” gave impetus to a movement that changed the face of America and the world.

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The world is very different 50 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and 2000 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. Their willingness to die for a cause led to much positive change but one does not have to look far to see that there is still much more to be done. We must continue the struggle to insure civil and human rights for all people.

In the beginning God created a perfect world. No reasonable person would suggest that it has remained in that state of perfection but it is the task of all people to work together to make the world a better place for everyone. God help us!

Jamie Jenkins

After many months of extremely confrontational and extravagantly expensive campaigning, Donald Trump was elected yesterday to be the 45th President of the United States.

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The presidential campaign lasted almost two years. During that time pollsters provided much information and political pundits made their projections but now all speculation has ended. Promises have been made. Accusations and insinuations have flowed freely. Now the nation has made its decision. I am sure that many people are ecstatic and many others are disappointed.

What are we to do now? If “our” candidate won or lost the election, the response needs to be the same. We need to come together to make the most of the decision. The outcome of this election was determined by the person who got the most votes. Majority rules in a democratic society. That does not mean the majority is always right. The winning vote is not always an indication that the achieved results are the best. Regardless, the need now is to come together in unity around common goals and work for the common good of all people.

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A “winners and losers” attitude will not be helpful as we move forward. American writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard counsels us to “Minimize friction and create harmony. You can get friction for nothing, but harmony costs courage and self-control.”

Courage and self-control lead to unity. The moment calls for people who will be bold enough to maintain a strong presence while exercising self-control in interactions with others of differing ideas. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that “unity has never meant uniformity.” In other words, we don’t have to give up our deeply held beliefs and march in lock step in order to be unified.

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The words of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians are applicable to our current situation. “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, and profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Wake up from your sleep. Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” (Ephesians 4:29-5:2, The Message)

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Lord, help us to act and speak in ways that build up each other.

Jamie Jenkins

Andrew Young 3

Andrew Young, Jr. apologized to the crowd for sitting while he spoke. He said sitting would help his 83 year old knees as he talked to the folks gathered at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.

Andy (as he likes to be called) Young was one of the closest friends and co-workers of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and gave leadership to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Someone said, “At some point civil rights activists have to come in off the streets and get involved in politics.” And that is what he did when he was elected to the U.S. House of representatives in 1972 becoming the first African American to represent Georgia in Congress since Reconstruction. Later President Jimmy Carter named him as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and after leaving that post he was elected Mayor of Atlanta in 1981.

Before his political career Young was a pastor. After graduating from Hartford Theological Seminary he was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ in 1955. That calling was very apparent when he used the words of the biblical prophet Micah as he spoke to the folks in church last Sunday. “What does God require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”

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The crowd gathered in the Peachtree Road United Methodist sanctuary heard stories from Young’s childhood in New Orleans and how his father taught him about honesty and respect. Reflecting on his time as ambassador he told a story about a meal of cornbread, field peas, corn on the cob, and fried chicken prepared by his mother-in-law from Alabama in the kitchen of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York  for the Chinese delegation to the U.N. . This was an example of his belief that “breaking bread together” helps to transcend our differences.

As a youngster, Andrew Young, Jr. was an athlete. Once on a trip with his parents to North Carolina he ran to the top of Kings Mountain. As he stood at the top of that mountain and viewed the surrounding beauty, he said he became aware of God’s presence in a very special way. When he came down from the mountain he had a definite sense that God had a purpose for his life. He did not understand what it was but from that day onward he tried to be faithful every day to God.

I don’t believe that everyone who follows God’s will and purpose for their life will have such extraordinary experiences as Andrew Young. But I am convinced that if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing today, we will be where God wants us to be whenever God has something else for us. And that is the exciting way of faith!

Lord, help us to faithfully follow You in all our ways every day!

Jamie Jenkins