Easter Monday, April 2, 2018

LABC received this email from Cheryl Dudley, Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York this morning. I share it as an invitation to join us at Soup and Study this Tuesday (6:00 Soup/6:30 Study) or at Wednesday Morning Bible Study (10:30) as we honor the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. by reading his last sermon together. I also share it in support of the major “Act Now to End Racism” gatherings in Washington D.C. and Memphis.

Easter Monday, April 2, 2018

Dear Friends,

I had the privilege of watching the HBO documentary, King in the Wilderness (spoiler alert below), at the Riverside Church on March 26 at its New York premiere. It is a touching film about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that includes “new” footage, and most poignantly, remembrances of those who are still here and were among those closest to him. If you have an opportunity to see the film, I believe you’ll appreciate it.

One of the realities noted by some of his friends was that Dr. King had developed “a tick.” The tick, was not noticed by most people, manifested itself as jerk or a shudder in his neck and shoulder. This thorn was a likely consequence of the deep stress and depression caused by the work – and being a constant target for attack by persons and systems seeking to thwart him. A few months before his assassination, friends noticed that the tick no longer plagued him. Asking him about it, Martin confessed that the tick was gone. Friends inquiring further asked what made it go away. They recalled Martin confessing . . . that he had made peace. Made peace with what friends continued to ask? He continued saying that he had made peace with death. Not long after, as he stood at a rail of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, bullet took his life.

It is for all of us to make peace with death. In so doing, we pray that our time of living, has not created a legacy that extends our names into infamy, but has had the significance—of encouraging the living and the lives of others, particularly those in closest proximity to us, and perhaps also in ever widening circles. Martin Luther King’s most intimate circle, as well as the world, will never be the same because of he lived.

Martin followed the footsteps of Jesus by gathering an assortment of friends of all stripes around him. Jesus’ friends knew him well, and the world since then, still seeks to know him as we know him, a dynamic and relevant person, and a trusted friend. It is in relationship to Christ where he can truly become our savior.

Love’s redeeming work is done. Alleluia! Fought the fight the battle won. Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids his rise. Alleluia! Christ hath opened paradise. Alleluia![i]

The 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Martin Luther King is this week on April 4, in the morrow of Resurrection day. I encourage you to commemorate this important anniversary in some significant way. There are commemorative gatherings in our metro area; some people are traveling to Memphis, or Washington, D.C. If you are a part of the number planning to be in Washington D.C., there will be a tent erected on the mall for us to meet up with other American Baptists. Tents will be positioned on Madison Drive on the Mall between 12th and 14th Streets. Look for the ABCUSA tag. Maybe I’ll see you there or among the crowd who choose to remember MLK there in Washington, at the ACT NOW: to End Racism Rally.

Prayers for all as Easter continues.

Pastor Jim