Over my desk hang renderings of the two most influential martyrs and prophets of my life: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr. On this, the birthday of Dr. King, I spent a little time looking at these two icons as they seemed to stare over my work watchfully. Each was martyred at age 39. Each fought the most formidable evils of their respective times – Nazism and Racism/Segregation. Each articulated a faith in Jesus Christ that drove them not to perfection, but to action and sacrifice. And I ask myself, “What the heck is wrong with you, Olson? With all the injustice and hate around, why are you sitting here?”
Martin Luther King Jr.’s faith was rooted in an understanding of the beloved community, steeped in the love of Christ offered to neighbor and the world. James Taylor wrote a song a while back that sketches some of the theological principles that drove King to act, speak… and die.
SHED A LITTLE LIGHT by James Taylor
Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women living on the Earth
Ties of hope and love, sister- and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound
You and I are bound together by the very fact we exist by the grace of the one who gives life – God revealed in Christ. We are bound to every human and creature by links that cannot be broken no matter how hard we fight, bicker, argue or go to war with each other. God will not allow enemies in the reign of Christ; nor will factions and divisions stand. We are bound together.
We are also bound for a future that God alone will grant in grace. Because there is no room for hate; no room for poverty; no room for corruption, lies, or violence in the gentle reign of Jesus, we are both committed to work for that vision as if it was already a fact. We are bound and we are bound.
The memory of Dr. King reminds me that the only way forward from the darkness, evil, moral bankruptcy and despair of the world is to join hands, link our arms, and move forward, because we are bound, and we are bound. The only way any of our lives are going to make any sense is when we come together in love and move ahead toward that great and glorious day when love prevails. We are bound and we are bound.
So, quit going it alone and turn your eyes to the horizon of hope that can only be revealed in Jesus Christ. We are bound and we are bound.
Pastor Tim Olson