As we walk together in God’s story of rescue, and invite others to join us, we start to listen to new songs, we get new stories, and we might even get new heroes along the way. It’s an interesting mix of what we used to think or feel or how we used to act and a different idea, a variant outlook, a change in viewpoint.
If you’re white like me, you may not have thought too much about Martin Luther King, Jr. If you’re a GenXer, then you probably didn’t. I’m not sure what Millennials think. Boomer grew up with him in the news every day, so it probably depends on what your parents told you or how that narrative was framed for you. If you’re black, he’s surely a hero for you. As such, and because we are all in this together, he’s my hero too. He stands for both you and me, for what we want America to be and look like.
Think about how a pastor did so much. He certainly was a flawed man, imperfect in so many ways, but aren’t we all? Here was a preacher (who by the way applied to be a pastor in Oklahoma City but was turned down because he was considered too young) who stood up for justice and love, who impacted millions, who practiced non-violence, who was jailed, who met with Presidents. Who helped change us and make us better. We’re still not there yet, but we can celebrate this work, this life, this legacy.
Likewise, we are coming up on the 500th year commemoration of the “other” Martin Luther, the German Reformer who nailed his 95 theses on the Wittenburg door in 1517. Here’s another imperfect pastor priest standing up to another institution that needed change. Martin Luther was a brash, impertinent fellow. He had no manners.
He did have a quick wit, a dashing quill, and the new advantage of the printing press. He had both gumption and the gall to make a stand, and do no other.