Written on January 15, 2024:
I sat in a pew this morning and heard the voice of Martin Luther King Jr. ring through the walls of the chapel. The voice of a great man who sacrificed his life to fight for the justice of black men, women and children. The voice of a great man who recognized the injustices of the white people around him and chose not only to call forth justice, but to recognize his own sinfulness and preach the gospel. The voice of a great man who fought to see justice roll on like a river, who fought for children not to be judged by the color of their skin but for the content of their character, who fought for freedom to ring across America.
I sat in a pew this morning and heard the voice of Martin Luther King Jr. ring through the walls of the chapel. I sat in a pew this morning and watched students ignore this voice of justice. I sat in a pew this morning and heard students whisper just loud enough to muffle the voice of this great man. I sat in a pew this morning and witnessed a disrespect for the words of this great man and the gospel he was preaching as students drowned their eyes in the device in front of their face. I sat in a pew this morning and was saddened and disappointed with the content of our character.
I sat in a pew this morning and I could not help but ask myself; how do so many fail to remember the significance of the words being preached? Fail to acknowledge the significance of a life sacrificed so that those who come after him live in a world with greater justice than his own? Have we become a people so easily removed from a natural obligatory sense of respect for those who have gone before us that we cannot remove ourselves from our own lives for barely a half hour?
Even through this, one must remember and offer grace to those who were able to respectfully offer their ears and perhaps their hearts to the words being preached, to remember the legacy and the sacrifice of Martin Luther King Jr. It would be unjust and unfair to make a general statement such as this without acknowledging the students who respected his legacy.
However, one must also call to attention that we live in a generation where remembering others and casting away ourselves and our desires for more than a few minutes is challenging. Thinking about ourselves and unconsciously disrespecting others has become addictive for us. It is easier to think of oneself rather than offer a few minutes to remember those who have gone before us. Selfish desires and mindsets have become a sort of drug.
The command to remember is not merely a natural obligatory concept, it is also a Christian concept. The command to remember is given in the Bible: Exodus 13:3 “Remember this day…,” Deuteronomy 7:18 “Remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh…,” Isaiah 46:9 “Remember the former things long past…,” Ephesians 2:12 “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ…,” Revelation 3:3 “So remember what you have received and heard…”
Remembering is a conscious choice. One must choose not to forget the ways the Lord has used men and women to fight for His justice in a fallen and broken world.
May we never forget the grace of God to take brokenness and make something beautiful. May we never forget the vessels that he has used to fight for freedom in our country. May we never forget the man who paved the way for all people to someday say “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”