What will and has become of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream? There is a deep urgency today not only to celebrate the King holiday in our usual way, but to discover intentional and concrete ways of making real Dr. King’s call for justice, peace, and love. This is especially necessary as the darkness of current headlines and social media rants, filled with vitriolic words, spread like wildfire over an already divided and polarized landscape. Words and actions that add to the suffering caused by multidimensional pandemics of COVID-19, poverty, implicit and explicit racism, and environmental stress, make it imperative that we work to make the dream of “The Beloved Community” a reality.
I encourage us all to reflect on how our responses to today’s issues, and how we live with each other, would be different if we looked through the eyes of such a dream. “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” The interrelatedness of human existence makes true that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – MLK
The Beloved Community is not new. Jesus proclaimed it and gave his life for the restoration, reconciliation, and salvation of all creation. Christ gave his life to redeem all things. In his mind, heart, and soul, Martin Luther King Jr. believed that The Beloved Community would be the ideal corporate expression of the Christian faith. Dr. King, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, believed that the Church was, and is, the physical expression of Jesus here on Earth.
Sisters and brothers, we as disciples of Jesus Christ have no other option but to “…bring good news to the poor and proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). The Beloved Community becomes possible when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. How else can we live after a life-changing encounter with Jesus? In Christ, “our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation.” – MLK.
The Beloved Community is embedded in our very baptismal vows: “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races? Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”
There is deep resilient hope in the dream of The Beloved Community if we can find the courage to live into it. I not only pray this for each of you, but I pray it for myself with a firm belief in God’s grace, power, and faithfulness, “to create in us clean hearts, and renew right spirits within us” (Psalm 51:10), so that God’s “will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mark 6:10).