Wednesday would have been Martin Luther King’s 85 birthday and on Monday our neighbours to the south will celebrate Martin Luther King day. So, this Sunday our worship will commemorate the life and witness of this martyr of the faith. I know that there are some who say that as Canadians we don’t celebrate MLK Day. However, the gospel reading assigned for tomorrow includes Jesus’ early followers first attempts to figure out who Jesus was and hints at what it might mean to follow Jesus. While we have many images of what a follower of Jesus looks like, the life and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr. provides a concrete example of what it actually looks like to follow Jesus. We will spend some time exploring what our lives might look like should we have the courage to follow Jesus.
We will sing as our Hymn of the Day what was once known as “The Negro National Anthem,” Lift Every Voice and Sing. I have known a good many people who insist that “white people” ought not to sing this particular hymn. For a time I shared their reluctance, knowing that I have absolutely no idea what it means to live as a person of colour in a predominately white culture. However, over the years I have been convinced that Left Every Voice and Sing speaks to Dr. King’s dream of a world in which we are all freed from the shackles imposed upon us by the colour of our skin. The empathy engendered by this powerful hymn opens us to the possibilities inherent in Dr. King’s dream.
This video of the ‘ Negro National Anthem’ was originally screened at the historic African-American Church Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC on January 18th, 2009. Many of the esteemed individuals featured in this video in attendance and we presented with the ‘ Keepers of the Flame’ award for the monumental contributions to social justice. This version of the song was performed by the Grace Baptist Church Cathedral Choir, conducted by Derrick James. While Canadians might balk at the overtly “American” images, we would do well to remember the history we share with our American cousins and the work that both countries need to engage in in order to move us closer to realizing Dr.King’s dream.
I include this pdf of tomorrow’s worship bulletin here, which includes preambles to some of the music we will be singing. Worship begins at 10:45am