Each year, on my way to New Orleans, as I drive through Birmingham, Alabama, I think about the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Today I was also reminded of the four little girls who were killed by a Klan bomb in 1963 while attending Sunday School at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.
When I stay in Birmingham, I like to read Dr. King’s famous letter. But today I wouldn’t be staying, so as I drove through Alabama, I listened to some of Dr. King’s speeches. Of course, I listened to “I Have A Dream,” but I also heard his speech at the conclusion of the Selma march and his “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church in New York.
I was inspired by the courage of those who worked for civil rights in America, some dying for their faith. I was also amazed at how pertinent Dr. King’s words are for today. Fifty years later they still apply to the social, political and spiritual climate of our country.
My prayer is that Christians would recover the nonviolent resistance to the sins of empire that characterized the first century church, African American churches in the 1960’s and several beautiful movements in between.
Oh Lord, forgive us for being accomplices by our silence. May we stand with the oppressed and the vulnerable, knowing that is where you stand. Our social media posts are not enough. Teach us how to live the good news and to be agents of your peace.