Tonight, January 19, 2009, is the end of Martin Luther King Jr. day.
Dr. King was a man whose vision and passion transformed the racial dialogue and landscape of this country. I am encouraged to note that the foundation of his mission and teaching is on biblical scripture. Because of this he is an inspiration to me and to many others. However, at the time of his life he (and his work) was rejected and even spurned by most of the white evangelical Christian church.
Yes, it was partly because of his moral failings some Christians found cause to separate themselves from his mission. But truth be known most white Christians followed white society in rejecting his message long before his moral struggles were revealed. Many whites rejected Rev. Dr. King just because he, and the movement he represented, were about to bring a dramatic shift to the way white Americans viewed themselves and their society.
Tomorrow, January 20, 2009, is inauguration of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States of America. He has inspired many, and myself included, by his clear call fur unity and hope for our future. Even politicians such as Newt Gingrich have noted his clear and sincere efforts to reconcile divisions and unite our country around core issues. As Candidate Obama, he frustrated both African-American and European American leaders when he talked about issues many wanted to sweep under the rug.
While he was elected with strong support from the white community, much of the evangelical church rejected him. There were the lies circulated that he was a Muslim, there were rumors that he was not a real citizen, there are insinuations that he may be the anti-christ. I wonder, will the evangelical community always be 30 years behind society in realizing the power of important social movements? Will the church today continue to reject Obama as they rejected Rev. King?
I know he is not a savior. I know he is human and therefore will do wrong and disappoint us all. However I cannot get past these simple historic facts:
President Obama, a man of African decent, with a wife who is the descendant of American slaves – will take the oath of office (using President Lincoln’s bible) on steps and a building largely built by African slaves in America.
President Obama is the first president of the most powerful and divers county in the world whose name is NOT of European roots.
President Obama has and will inspire children and adults in my neighborhood, across our county, and around the world – to know and believe that they truly CAN become ANYTHING. Seeing President Obama will be a reminder that, while racism is real, they are not limited in all ways just because of the color of their skin.
I have seen the power this man has to inspire a lost generation to hope again.
My prayer is that we can celebrate without false worship, and that as the church we can learn to worship in a way that does not spurn our brothers and sisters in our Lord.