Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Now That's a Pastor to Model Your Ministry After!

When I am ordained, and I am hopeful the day will eventually come, I pray my ministry has at least hint of the same fragrance of Reverend Dr. King. Even if it's only a whiff of the same scent of advocacy, justice, and love for friend and foe alike, my prayer is for my pastoral witness to take on the same flavor of the gospel that defined the greatest Baptist minister ever to live (sorry Billy Graham).

I pray to follow King as King followed Christ.

I pray I never sell my soul to the institution that has become the church and instead leverage the institutional elements for the sake of influence on behalf of our most vulnerable neighbors.

I pray I remember the gospel cannot be removed from real human experience and present manifestations of injustice (see his critique of Barth below)

I pray I always have my ear opened to the cries of the poor, oppressed, and all who are relegated to the margins of church and culture.

I pray I always remember that the greatest human and even religious question is, as King said, what can I do for others?

I pray I always remember Dr. King was a Pastor. The Baptist minister's convictions were rooted in the teachings of Jesus and promise of universal reconciliation and redemption able to break into the very real and occasionally dark present.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday, I pray I pay attention to the echoes of his witness, meditate on the plethora of memes streaming his one-liners of compassion, and even consider re-reading some of his greatest writings of socio-political and theological change that continue to transform hearts, minds, and imaginations over a half-a-century later.

And I pray the words would jump off the page and nudge us all towards ordinary and extradordinary acts of love and generosity that would make the Pastor proud, even if You are a Youth Ministry Director.

"We are outnumbered; we do not have access to the instruments of violence. Even more than that, not only is violence impractical, but it is immoral; for it is my firm conviction that to seek to retaliate with violence does nothing but intensify the existence of evil and hate in the universe... I believe firmly that love is a transforming power that can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, good will and justice."

"God is also immanent, expressing his creative genius throughout the universe which he is ever creating and always sustaining as well as through the essential goodness of the world and human life." (see King on Barth below)

A Few Related Resources

Letter from Birmingham Jail

What Is Peace? (a confirmation lesson and a Bible study on Dr. King)

Karl Barth's Conception of God by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Your Image of Dr. Martin Luther King I Likely Wring by Drew Hart

Photo Above of Dr. King with Karl Barth from Center for Barth Studies