Dear Brothers and Sisters –
Last Sunday we were urged to remember our baptism – not just the moment of it, but the meaning of it – to realize that everything that God says to Jesus in his baptism (“You are my beloved Son”), God says to us in our baptism: You are God’s beloved child.
Martin Luther King’s favorite expression for the church was “the Beloved Community” – meaning together we have the joyful opportunity of letting others know that they are loved by God, too.
This coming Monday we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, honoring this great champion of civil rights and justice in our time.
Some years ago I read an article I haven’t forgotten since, titled, “Why Dr. King Would Have Boycotted MLK Day.” (Kevin Thrun, The Other Side, January & February, 2003).
So why does the author argue that Dr. King would have boycotted the holiday in honor of his birth? Because the people Dr. King fought for – the low wage workers: the janitors, the cooks and cabbies, the maintenance workers – don’t even get the day off!
The article goes on to explain what happened at the MLK events in Philadelphia years ago – how hundreds if not thousands attended these official celebrations, including, not surprisingly, many middle-class Christian activists who had the day off. But that middle-class Christian activist group stood in stark contrast to all the young Black, Latino, and African hotel workers loading cart after cart of MLK materials into conference halls; in contrast to all the valets parking hundreds of luxury automobiles; in contrast to all the kitchen workers serving countless plates of food; in contrast to all the janitors hauling out dumpsters full of trash.
And in the end, the article reported, the only thing all those workers had to say on that MLK holiday was, Those church folk sure don’t tip worth a damn.
Yikes! That’s what characterized the beloved community? Stinginess? We who have been welcomed? We who have received so much? We who are so dearly loved?
I sure hope our reputation has been improving.
Be the Beloved Community!