Forward Today: The daybreak of joy

In the new Forward Today, Scott reflects on the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., writing that “resurrection joy and King’s dream are two sides of the same beautiful coin.”

Dear friends in Christ,

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Our church recognizes him as a holy martyr of the faith, and this is the day the church keeps as his commemoration. Doctor King, pray for us. We need your intercession now, as ever.
One of my favorite works of King is his imagined “Paul’s Letter to American Christians” delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on 4 November 1956. In the letter, King imagines what the Apostle Paul might have said to American Christians. Its message is disturbingly current today. In the letter, “Paul” warns of the dangers of capitalism. The letter chastises the church for its complicity in oppression. And then there is this:
I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It seems to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress… How often this is true. You have allowed the material means by which you live to outdistance the spiritual ends for which you live. You have allowed your mentality to outrun your morality. You have allowed your civilization to outdistance your culture. Through your scientific genius you have made of the world a neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual genius you have failed to make of it a brotherhood.
Do you find this as true, and as convicting, as I do?

We as a nation – and as a world – have much for which to repent, but surely our lack of a moral compass is chief among our sins. If we were more morally advanced, we would find racism, classism, and all forms of discrimination and devaluation to be waning. The church has, sadly, forfeited its place as a moral voice in society. (Popular Christianity’s embrace of culture-war wedge issues doesn’t count, because there’s nothing moral about those attacks.)
We are an Easter people. We ought to embrace an Easter morality. In the New Creation of Jesus Christ, love is stronger than hate, mercy is stronger than might, hope is stronger than fear, and life is stronger than death. If we manage to live as Easter people, I think we will find that we are very much honoring the legacy, vision, and hope of Martin Luther King, Jr. Resurrection joy and King’s dream are two sides of the same beautiful coin.
Let us repent where we are wrong. Let us embrace what is right. And let us, like those women at the Easter tomb, share the glad news of new life in Jesus Christ.
I close with the end of King’s imagined letter from Paul. “And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling, and lift us from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy, to him be power and authority, forever and ever. Amen.”


Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

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