Dreaming with MLK Jr.

Pastoral Reflections

The more I come to learn about Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), the more his message grows in clarity for me. I used to think MLK’s ultimate dream was improved citizenship rights and equal justice for Black Americans. There was certainly that, but it was more.

MLK’s words, “I have a dream that one day… the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” That seems to surpass temporal justice and does not sound like mere freedom. It’s a bigger dream. He’s dreaming for reconciliation in a community of love. This quote is just one example.

He looked for a level of reconciliation before which social divisions finally crumble, thereby giving way to a reunion of humanity – all peoples, gathering together in a beautiful community of love. The difference between equal rights and reconciliation is that you can enact laws around one, you cannot the other. Such reconciliation is beyond our legislative capabilities. It is transcendent and a result of transformation.

But we can dare to dream of how God may be working this out at TLC. When we, peoples of different cultures and ethnicities, gather each week, we again turn to the Table of the Lord. Burundians and Burmese, Americans and Australians, Nigerians and British, Mexicans and Dutch, and so forth. We declare, in the words of a Eucharistic prayer, that we are one Body, because we all share in one Bread.

Scot McKnight wrote: “The church is God’s… social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be.”