Commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.
In the midst of preparing for Holy Week and Easter, and enjoying the great weather we’ve had in Wilmington for the past week, a special commemoration occurred this past Tuesday, April 4. In the church calendar, we commemorated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We celebrated and acknowledged his life and what his ministry and work for the civil rights movement meant not just for Christians, but all people. But you might be asking, “Wait Tim, didn’t we celebrate and honor Dr. King’s memory back on January 15? Why didn’t the church celebrate his life at that time in the calendar?” Well, there is the option to commemorate his life in January in the church calendar. However, Dr. King is recognized on April 4, on the date he was assassinated, in Memphis, Tennessee. Every year at Virginia Theological Seminary (where I went to seminary), Dr. King’s life and legacy are remembered over a series of days. It is truly a special time to honor Dr. King.
This year, the commemoration of Dr. King’s life and death is timely. As we prepare for Holy Week, that special and reverent time in the church where we walk in the steps of Jesus as he came to Jerusalem and was arrested, tried, and executed for what he stood for, preached, and taught throughout his life, I can’t help but see the parallels between the two men. Jesus and Dr. King’s lives and deaths were about the equality of humanity with God and neighbor. Their ministries were about bringing God’s justice to the world, especially to those who had been marginalized, shunned, and pushed out of full participation in God’s world and society. They represented God’s light coming into the world not just to expose the evil and darkness in the world, but to help all of God’s people find their way to a reconciled relationship with God and their neighbors. And even though their lives ended in tragedy, their legacies and memories are still alive today, continuously changing the world and people and providing hope and comfort where there is none. Both men profoundly altered the way that many people across the world and time see God and their neighbors.
As we approach Holy Week and begin to walk with Christ during the last days of his earthly life, let us also remember Dr. King and many others who followed in the footsteps of Christ and showed us how to treat one another even in the face of adversity. Let us remember that the light and hope of Christ still shines through the examples of Dr. King and others who are fighting for all of God’s people so that one day God’s vision for the world will be fully realized and celebrated forever.