In 1994, the U.S. Congress selected the third Monday of every January to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. In keeping with Dr. King’s leadership of the nonviolent resistance movement to overcome racial injustice, Congress declared the occasion a “day on, not a day off,” in order that we, too, might strive for positive and lasting change. We are familiar with King’s story. We know that he followed in his father’s footsteps to become a Baptist minister. And we know that we was heavily influenced by the work of Mahatma Gandhi, whose efforts in India and South Africa paved the way for significant societal transformations. Sadly, Gandhi’s assassination by firearm in 1948 foreshadowed King’s own death by the same means in 1968.
As a minister, King often punctuated his speeches with quotes from scripture where justice serves as a common thread. Famously, the prophet Micah offers the following call to action: “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) King was fond of this passage, as well as Amos 5:24, where we hear the resounding call to “let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Today, we celebrate the pursuit of justice as the desire to know God’s own heart. And, with gratitude, we remember the work of Dr. King, and countless others, who have dedicated their lives to pursuing justice to the ends of the earth. May their legacy challenge, strengthen, and inspire us for service in Christ’s name.
Peace and best wishes,