Martin Luther King, Jr.
The church for centuries has observed the feasts of saints on the day of their death, but in this case, please celebrate the ministry of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when our nation does, on the Monday closest to January 15, his birthday. What your kids learn about him in school isn’t enough: his Christian faith and his calling compelled Dr. King to make civil rights his life’s work.
The lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures appointed for his feast day is taken from the story of Joseph with the coat of many colors, whose brothers were jealous of him and decided to get rid of him. Eventually, they sold him into slavery, but Joseph became a powerful leader in Egypt. Pharaoh, Egypt’s king, believed Joseph’s dreams and because of that, Joseph was able to save the Egyptians and even his own brothers from a terrible famine. It is taken from Genesis 37:17–20:
They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”
Read or listen to the “I Have a Dream” speech, beginning at the line, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” Continue to the end of the speech. Talk as a family about Dr. King’s dream, and how it has continued after his death.
Families with young children could try beginning this conversation with a brown egg and a white egg. Crack the eggs into the bowl one at a time. No matter what we look like on the outside, inside we are the same. Dr. King’s most famous speech is about his dream that everyone will one day live the way God wants us to live, treating each other fairly and with love, no matter the color of our skin or how different we might be. Read this quote: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” What we have inside us is the most important part of us. Talk together about what we dream of doing to make the world a better (peaceful, fairer) place. Read the excellent picture book God’s Dream by Desmond Tutu.
Many people across the country take this day as a day of service. How can your family participate in making his dream come true? This is one of my favorite quotes of Dr. King: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” This year our church is partnering with New York Cares, which means Peter and I among many others will spend a few hours on Monday helping out in a public elementary school in the Bronx. We’re encouraged to think of this as a day ON rather than a day off, a day to connect with and contribute to our community as we work towards creating the Beloved Community.
(adapted from Faith at Home p. 54-55)