Martin Luther King Jr: The Prophetic Voice

It is Martin Luther King day once again. We stop to celebrate the life and commitment of whom many of us consider to be a modern-day prophet. I want us to reflect on prophets and what the prophetic voice is. I will be taking an excerpt from a recent sermon I gave called “The Prophetic Voice.”  In this talk we look at how prophets speak on the issues and challenges of a society and call them into question. Ezekiel from the Jewish scriptures gave us an outrageous stunts while Confucius from ancient China shows us how to speak softly yet with power and grace.

So on MLK day I want us to reflect on King’s radical voice of justice. King called out the injustices in society, he challenged the status quo, he fought against Jim Crow, the KKK, and the terror of living in the Southern part of the United States. He also lead the front against economic injustice. In his famous mountaintop speech, given one day before his assassination, King inspired the sanitation workers of Memphis Tennessee to rise up and fight for their rights.

King tells the story of the Good Samaritan. A story Jesus tells about a man who is robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Two Jewish leaders walk by and step over him. But a Samaritan, an outcast, a foreigner, stops to help him and takes care of him. My favorite quote from King’s speech is this:

“the first question that the Levite asked was, ‘if I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’

If I do not be a voice for the marginalized, the oppressed, the least of these…what will happen to them? What will happen to farmers who are going bankrupt? What will happen to Muslims in America if there is a registry? What will happen to the environment if we don’t combat climate change? What will happen to the LBGTQ community if we don’t defend their rights? What will happen to coal miners and factory workers who’s jobs are disappearing? What will happen to those who are struggling, beaten, or killed because of the color of their skin?

With the state of the world, we can not sit and let injustice carry on. Please ponder these words:

Spirit of Life,

May we be grateful for the prophets who have led the way before us.
May we remember their sacrifices.
May we be inspired by their actions.
May the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr show us how to be a light in the darkness.
May we speak out the injustices of those in power, and defend those who can not defend themselves.
May we offer up our gifts and talents to help those on the margins.
May we endure the struggle and continue to carry on even when the road seems impossible.
Let us be open to wherever and whenever we are called to be a Good Samaritan,
Not just focusing on our own spiritual well-being but on the plight of those in the margins, those in need, those seeking sanctuary, and those who are under oppression.
Grant us strength, give us courage, and may we do all things in Love.
May it be so!
Amen.

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