“…And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
While January 15 marks the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, it is on this day, January 18 that we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. An American Baptist minister and activist, Martin Luther King, Jr. became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. He is one of only two Americans whose birthday is celebrated as a federal holiday. The other is George Washington, whose birthday is commonly celebrated as Presidents’ Day.
To me, it is no accident that we honor Dr. King, an outspoken advocate for non-violence, during the same week in which we will inaugurate the next President of our nation. As we know, the Inauguration is scheduled to take place at our U.S. Capitol Building, the scene of recent unimaginable violence and bloodshed that has shaken our nation. This tragic event is a reminder of what Dr. King devoted his life to promoting. He said: “A riot is the language of the unheard.” In his book Stride Toward Freedom, he laid out six principles of nonviolence: 1) Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. 2) Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. 3) Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people. 4) Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. 5) Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. 6) Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.
So how do we engage in doing justice, loving kindness, and humbly walking with our God in these days that find our country divided, and leave us frightened and angry? We can find help by returning to Dr. King’s principles: Let’s be courageous people, seeking always to win friendship and understanding, and above all, choosing love instead of hate. In the foreword to The World is About to Turn, the current Clergy Roundtable book study, Peter Marty writes, “Only by threading our lives together with the divine gifts of justice, mercy, and humility will the torn or frayed fabric of our republic ever be mended.” May we weave these threads into our minds and hearts as we live out this new year.
Kathe Rhinesmith, our guest contributor, has been a member of Naples UCC since 2013. Kathe is a Faculty presenter with Veriditas, the global organization that is dedicated to inspiring personal and planetary change and renewal through the labyrinth experience.
Loving One, remind us that You are the one in charge of every moment of our lives, that You are closer even than our breathing, and that nothing can separate us from Your love. Amen.