Armodoxy for Today: The Dream at 60
Dreams are more than nighttime subconscious expressions. Dreams are inner desires and wishes finding form and forum. Many inventions, businesses, relationships, fantasies, impossible possibilities are found in dreams. Since man has looked up at the night sky and pondered the flashing lights and wondered the phases of the moons, there have been dreams of conquering space. Novelist Jules Verne wrote adventures of moon voyages in the 19th century, which became the inspiration for the many scientists and eventually astronauts who ventured to the moon in the 1960s.
Sixty years ago, on this day, August 28, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered a speech in Washington DC, most famously referred to as the “I Have a Dream” speech. He articulated a dream which all men and women have had since the beginning of time, to be free, to be respected and thereby an opportunity to create one’s own destiny. It was a dream which was spelled out in the Declaration of Independence as the American colonies seceded from England in 1776, and a dream that President Abraham Lincoln brought closer to reality in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation.
But dreams of human desire, that eliminate hatred and prejudice, are not easily enacted and so 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, a March on Washington took place, August 26, 1963. More than 250,000 people participated in the march for jobs and freedom. At the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, Rev. King delivered one of the most powerful, and earth-shaking orations in history.
While acknowledging history, he laid out the dream, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
And went on to personalize it, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. was 26 years old when he received his doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University. He was 34 years old when he gave the speech at the March on Washington. A year later, at age 35 he won the Nobel Peace Prize. With all of his accolades, degrees, accomplishments and the honors, he was emphasized that about everything else, he was a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was committed to this Gospel and knew that true liberation and salvation, yes, in this world, came through Jesus Christ. In his words, “By opening our lives to God in Christ, we become new creatures. This experience, which Jesus spoke of as the new birth, is essential if we are to be transformed nonconformists . . . Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit.”
The world has much to learn from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when it comes to bringing about change. He understood and implemented Jesus’ teachings in his and his community’s life. He said, “He (Jesus) knew that the old eye-for-eye philosophy would leave everyone blind. He did not seek to overcome evil with evil. He overcame evil with good. Although crucified by hate, he responded with aggressive love.”
Today, as people struggle and protest for rights and freedoms, as wars escalate and hateful talk takes form in evil actions, the words of Christ speak an answer that is undeniable and Rev. King attests to it not only by words but by his actions.
In the text of today’s message, you will find links to the “I have a dream speech” in both written form and in speech form. I highly recommend that you watch or listen to the speech, to feel the impact of this minister of the Gospel.
Sixty years have passed. The dream is not fulfilled, but the call to us is to keep dreaming and working for the realization of that dream.
Today, I share with you a prayer written by Rev. King, from a book of his prayers called, “Thou, Dear God.” God grant that the resources that you have will be used to do that, the great resources of education, the resources of wealth, and that we will be able to move into this new world, a world in which men will live together as brothers; a world in which men will no longer take necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. A world in which men will throw down the sword and live by the higher principle of love. … That there will be the time we will be able to stand before the universe and say with joy – The kingdom of our Lord and our Christ! And he shall reign forever and ever! Hallelujah!