If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.

–The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

MLKToday, April 16, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

There is an op-ed piece by Barnard College professor Jonathan Rieder in The New York Times which offers some insights into the thinking of Dr. King.  While I am not thrilled with the title of the piece, “Dr. King’s Righteous Fury,” it is nevertheless worth the reading. 

I was particularly struck by the quote which I used at the top of this entry.  It is a prophetic indictment of the state of our church today. It had been a while since I had read the letter, and I am amazed at how fresh and appropriate its content and comments remain today, 50 years after its first coming to light.

Sadly, the horrific events in Boston on Monday overshadow the opportunity for thoughtful reflection on King’s magnificent piece of prose, from which we also glean the well-known quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

We pray for the victims of the senseless tragedy in Boston, that God’s abiding presence may bring comfort and healing to all who mourn. And we ask God to strengthen our faith, renew our hope, and liberate us from the captivity of fear, so that violence may not have the last word. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we be encouraged to love our enemies, and strive for justice and peace in all the world.


Published by pastorallende

Retired Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Social justice and immigration reform advocate. Micah 6:8. Fluent in English and Spanish. I enjoy music and sports.

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