Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

by | Jan 15, 2024 | Pastor's Blog

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

We have all likely heard this powerful quote by Dr. King. Inspiring words that remind us that anyone can serve, wherever we find ourselves, whatever we do, we can serve, as long as we live and work and see with eyes of love. 

This quote reflects many others from Dr. King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” Or this one, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” The quotes can go on and on and I could probably share an entire sermon maybe even sermon series using only Dr. King’s words because they’re so good, so inspiring, and so prophetic for his day and ours. 

Feeding the Hungry

Here’s one more. Dr. King said, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” I share this belief with Dr. King. Maybe you do too. 

Over the last few years, since I have served on the northeast side of Indianapolis, we have people coming to our doors of the church at least weekly, sometimes more, sometimes less, who ask, “Can I get some food?” People who are struggling to find three meals a day. We collect food for the food pantry called the Community Cupboard of Lawrence, which is not far from here, between this church and mine. We usually just give those in search of a meal food out of our collection, but we also asked, “How can we bring food to our part of the city regularly?” 

We asked this question of our community and the conversation guided us to Gleaners Food Bank where we partnered with them and the community to bring their summer mobile food pantry to our part of the city last summer every Monday from June to August. We served on average 400 families per week. These were 400 families and neighbors, those whom Dr. King believed should have three meals per day. 

Do we share his belief? A belief that is rooted in the way of Jesus who said, “Love your neighbor. Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Welcome the stranger. Clothe those without. Look after the sick. Visit the imprisoned.” Essentially build the beloved community called the Kingdom of God. If we share this belief, then one day is not proper. Our invitation from the way of Jesus as preached so faithfully and clearly by Dr. King is to live a lifetime and a lifestyle of service, justice, and righteousness. Live in a way that places service and justice at the top of our priorities or to-do list. Dr. King wrote and spoke about the three evils of poverty and economic exploitation, racism, and militarism; so our remembrance of Dr. King is not complete without a reflection on how our lives and the institutions and systems we are a part of uphold these three evils, and we don’t have to look far today to see poverty, racism, and militarism in this nation. 

Serving Others

Today, MLK Day, is often called a Day of Service or a Day On, Not a Day Off. There are service projects and nonprofits are supported, all of these are great things. There’s no other place, no other holiday, no other day, where our nation pauses to serve others, which again is something to join in and celebrate, but it can’t stop there. 

We know that Dr. King is more than quotes, although I shared many good ones with you this evening, he is more than soundbites or social media posts. This is a day of service, that is true, and we celebrate that. But that service should lead us to justice, where our serving not only combats the three evils of poverty, racism, and militarism, but should also build the beloved community. 

Since I began with a quote by Dr. King, let me end by sharing again life’s most persistent and urgent question, “What are you doing for others?” May we not ask that question just on Martin Luther King Day, but may we ask that question of ourselves tomorrow, the next day, and for the next 365. Amen.