THE SHOT THAT STILL RINGS...
In many ways, it is hard to believe that a 39-year-old Baptist preacher was gunned down for no good reason on a motel balcony in Memphis 50 years ago today. James Earl Ray's cowardly act was rooted in evil, period.
And, yet, as I ponder this anniversary from the perspective of one born seven years after this heinous event, I cannot but help going back to read and process some of Dr. King's writings and speeches to learn more about this man who lived in a way that transformed the history of a nation if not the world. In reading from various works of his, what strikes me even more than truths he espoused was the passion from which his provacative words flowed.
The above quote from what is known as his "I have a Dream" speech, is, in many ways, to me the most important from that speech - even more than his stirring and powerful "I Have a Dream" narrative. With his beautiful and unique cadence, these words are rooted in the witness of scripture. Just a few days after once again remembering our Lord's final days, it is still fresh in our minds that amongst Christ's final words was the simple, elegant, and transformation, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Jesus Christ could have, completely understandably, turned to consuming and spewing bitterness and rage at the way that he was treated by all involved in his crucifixion. However, to do so would have flown in the face of the wintess that he lived throughout his life, and taught in his public ministry.
So, you and I have a question with which we must wrestle as we seek to learn, live, and teach the gospel story. The answer to question can only come from looking at our faith, our lives, our motives, and our beliefs -
"From what am I drinking - the forgiving and cleansing life-giving waters of baptism
OR the cup of bitterness and hatred that consumes me and everyone around me,
which in turn makes my life one bound up by torment and hell without any hope of peace?"
50 years since he was assassinated - 55 years since he delivered his most famous address...Dr. King's words are still ringing - and we had better still be listening.
Grace and Peace, Lamar