Marching in Synch with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr



mlkdaymarchDenise and I attended the Springfield NAACP Martin Luther King Jr March and Celebration this morning.  The marchers gathered in the MediaCom Ice Park beforehand.  Making our way through the crowd I saw Steve Pokin a friend and reporter for the Springfield News-Leader.  I respect Steve so much and thoroughly enjoy his columns.

I stopped to say “Hello” and then saw that Steve had in his hands the tools of his trade: a pad and pen.  Merging friendship and work together, Steve, asked, “And why are you here?”  

I was caught off guard… After linking a few disjointed thoughts together, I shouted out to Denise who was talking to someone else, “Hey, Niese, look who’s here!  Steve Pokin.  He has something to ask you.”  

As we marched through downtown Springfield I thought more about Steve’s question:  “Why am I here?” 

I’m here because Dr. King and I have something in common.   Dr. King wrote about his early life, “I grew up in the church.  My father is a preacher, my grandfather was a preacher, my great-grandfather was a preacher, my only brother is a preacher, my daddy’s brother is a preacher.  So I didn’t have a choice.”  

I too grew up in church.  My father, both grand-fathers, one great-grandfather, three uncles were preachers.   Preaching/Pastoring felt a bit like a family-business.  

I love his pastor’s heart.  I love that his drive toward social justice came from the spirit of Christ.  He heard Jesus say to him, “Stand up for justice.  Stand up for truth.  And lo, I will be with  you until the end of the world.”  

*  I’m here to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and to publicly align myself with his ideals – Love over hate.  In a sermon delivered to the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, November 17, 1957, Dr. King expressed the heart of the movement in these words, ““To our most bitter opponents, we say, ‘Do to us what you will and we will continue to love you…Throw us in jail and we shall love you.  Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall love you…We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.’”

“We must meet hate with love” were his words then.  I want them to be my words now.

I’m here to express solidarity with others in the march.   I want to align myself with them as well.  In a sermon deliverd in 1954, Dr. King directed his words toward whites, “I have seen many white people who sincerely oppose segregation and discrimination.  But they never took a real stand against it because of fear of standing alone.”  

Denise and I weren’t alone this morning.  We stood and marched with a diverse group of people – diverse in color, income, religion – but united in love and the desire for justice.  

”The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruely by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people,” Martin Luther King, Jr.  

I am not saying I am good and others are bad.  I am saying I do not want to be guilty of oppression, cruelty or silence.  I was there because I want to be:

  • A good person.
  • A vocal person. 

The official march came to an end about hour later…but Denise and I want to continue the march.  I’m reminded of a hymn we sang in the Baptist church of our childhoods, 

Come ye that love the Lord, and let your joys be known.

Join in a song with sweet accord, Join in a song with sweet accord.

We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion

We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God. 

Then let our songs abound and every tear be dry.

We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground.

To fairer worlds on high, to fairer worlds on high.

We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion

We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.

We had joined people, in song, in sweet accord this morning.  Together we will continue to march to create a fairer world, a beautiful city of God, of shalom, fulfilling Jesus’ prayer that: 

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven.”  

Where is the Love?


When I hear the above question, I automatically start singing the song by Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack recorded in 1972 –

Where is the love

You said you’d give to me

Soon as you were free

Will it ever be?


Nice love song.

I also go in my mind to The Black-Eyed Peas version from 2001.

Bit if you only have love for your own race

Then you only leave space to discriminate

And to discriminate only generates hate

And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah

Where is the love, the love, the love?

Powerful song.

Non-Christians were asked for a one-word description of Jesus.

And the survey says, “LOVE!”


They’re right!   Jesus told his followers that God’s will for all humanity is summed up in two commands: Love God and Love your neighbor. Jesus went on to say that our neighbor is anyone who needs our help. Then Jesus takes this love thing to a crazy level when he says that we are not just to love our neighbor but we are to love our ENEMIES!

When Jesus tells us the one thing that identifies us as His followers…

That one thing is Love.

Not doctrine.

Not a belief.

Not dogma.

Convicting words.

Non-Christians were asked for a one-word description of Christians.

And the survey says, “Judgmental!”


Are they right?

Barna’s research seems to say so… Check out this article – 87% of 16-29 year olds say Christians are judgmental.

Ok, so Christians have an image problem. We’re viewed as way judgmental.

But is it an image problem or a real problem?

In another Barna studyDavid Kinnamon, said it’s real:   “Many Christians are more concerned with what they call unrighteousness than they are with self-righteousness. It’s a lot easier to point fingers at how the culture is immoral than it is to confront Christians in their comfortable spiritual patterns.”


Jesus’ approach was just the opposite. Check out his story in the 4 Gospel accounts. You’ll notice that Jesus never got angry with prostitutes, adulterers, or people guilty of the “typical” sins. The only people Jesus judged and got ticked with were the religious folks for their judgmentalism, self-righteousness and failure to love.

The weird thing is this: the people who claimed to know and follow God better than anyone else ultimately killed him when he showed up.

The above Barna study revealed that 51% of American Christians polled have attitudes and actions that are more like the religious folks (the Pharisees) than they are like Christ. Based on the Barna research, here is what today’s Pharisees say:

  • “I tell others the most important thing in my life is following God’s rules.”
  • “I don’t talk about my sins or struggles. That’s between me and God.”
  • “I try to avoid spending time with people who are openly gay or lesbian.”
  • “I try to point out those who do not have the right theology or doctrine.”
  • “I prefer to serve people who attend my church rather than those outside the church.”
  • “I find it hard to be friends with people who seem to constantly do the wrong thing.”
  • “It’s not my responsibility to help people who won’t help themselves.”
  • “I feel grateful to be a Christian when I see other people’s failures and flaws.”
  • “I believe we should stand against those who are opposed to Christian values.”
  • “People who follow God’s rules are better than those who do not.”

What’s missing from the list? Love. Where is the love? In Jesus.

To sum it up, let’s do what we hear in the last verse from The Black Eyed Peas:

Now, you gotta have love just to set it straight

Take control of your mind and meditate

Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all