“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We remember these deeply moving words on what would have been Dr. King’s 91st Birthday weekend. We remember them, and we give thanks for the reconciliation brought through his life and legacy. What a world we now live in! In my life, descendants of former slaves have sat down with me, the descendant of former slave owners, at the table of brotherhood. We do often hold hands and work together for the dreams of our forefathers and foremothers.
This reconciliation is not just for me. Our world now works for the equity of all people. The United Methodist Church continues to commit to reconciliation with those communities that have been harmed by racial injustice, and here at Suntree, we have named one of our big ideas in our 4D Vision Plan as “A commitment to reconciliation and bridge-building in our church, our community, and our world, as an expression of the reconciliation we know in Christ and the recognition of the diverse beauty of God’s creation.” We have come so far.
Yet, even in my joy, I know we still have so far to go. We still, today, work to combat forces that harm, hurt, and oppress. We still work to combat the “-isms” that discriminate against others. We still hear stories of those blatantly harmed and discriminated against in our world. Dr. King would still have much to say.
In that same “I Have a Dream Speech,” Dr. King spoke of two important concepts: the Beloved Community, and the fierce urgency of now. This Sunday in worship, we will spend time talking about Dr. King’s vision of a Beloved Community. This vision reminds us of the work of Fred Rogers. They both invited us to imagine that in our own lives, our neighborhoods, our worlds, we could build places where everyone has a fair shot, everyone is loved, included, seen for all of their beauty in all of their differences.
The second concept that I was reminded of is the fierce urgency of now. In that same speech, Dr. King said, “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off... Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
Dr. King and Fred Rogers believed in the fierce urgency of now: that together, we can make the world a better place today. Together, we can build that kingdom here, that neighborhood here, where Dr. King’s dream is realized and the promises of our ministry of reconciliation are in our hands. Together, as we will hear from our scripture this weekend, we can join Paul in the ministry of reconciliation, given to us by our reconciliation in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5)
This is tough work. It is painful work. It requires us admitting some of our own shortcomings. But it is also work that is important, vital, and urgent. It is work we have committed to in our 4D Vision plan. It is work that we name in our vision as uncomfortable, but crucial. It is work you have already begun. I look forward to joining that work with you, and to sharing in it this Sunday.