Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Following in the footsteps of his father, in February 1948, at the age of 19, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the Christian ministry and was ordained at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. As a nonviolent protester Dr. King was arrested 30 times for his participation in civil rights activities.

During one of his incarcerations he wrote a letter to a group of white clergy who were generally supportive of the movement, but thought King was moving too fast. His response came to be known as the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”.
It was in this letter that he wrote:

In deep disappointment, I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church; I love her sacred walls. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson, and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But oh! how we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and fear of being non-conformists.”

My prayer for us all this day, the only National holiday dedicated to a church pastor, is that we do not add any more scars to the body of Christ. My prayer for us this day is that we do whatever we can to heal the scars that are already there. My prayer today is that we work hard to personalize King’s dream of equality for all that has been blemished by our personal prejudices. My prayer is that we, Christ’s Church conform not to the pattern of this world but learn to truly live out what King’s Savior, Jesus Christ commanded us to do:
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30