By Steve Krout
“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A sign painted by Matt Gundlach for Koinonia’s Library
Having grown up in a predominantly white Baptist church and school, I can recall countless sermons on sexual morality, rock n’ roll, and dancing. I cannot recall, however, one sermon on the sin of racism. There is so much about this that angers and saddens me. In many of the people I grew up with, I see a Christianity that is not informed by spiritual and civil rights leaders like Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez. I wonder how differently our country would have been shaped had we been taught to be open to the Spirit’s moving in and through such prophets.
For many, a statement like “Black Lives Matter” must be countered with “All Lives Matter.” Countless books and articles are written about strengthening the nuclear family by the same people who support policies that lead to families being torn apart at the border. There are those who wave “pro-life” signs at rallies that believe petty crimes are justification for police violence against black men and women. I believe, in the very depth of my being, that this grieves God. And how I wish it would grieve us all and lead us to repentance for our wrongdoings.
There is a lot of work to be done: listening, reading books by people of color, being an ally, speaking out against injustices. Our bodies and our minds must be committed to this good and holy work.
Here, on Martin Luther King Day, I want to share a prayer that he spoke — these words should be prayed slowly and intentionally:
We thank you for your church, founded upon your Word, that challenges us to do more than sing and pray, but go out and work as though the very answer to our prayers depended on us and not upon you. Help us to realize that humanity was created to shine like the stars and live on through all eternity. Keep us, we pray, in perfect peace. Help us to walk together, pray together, sing together, and live together until that day when all God’s children — Black, White, Red, Brown and Yellow — will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord and of our God, we pray. Amen.