MLK Jr. Day
January 10th, 2012
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Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my heroes. No big surprise there. With the official day coming up, I was looking for material that might help with a sermon this week. Tom Harris, pastor at Govans Presbyterian in Baltimore, said he’d done the same, and found a short statement from Dr. King on his sense of call.
It’s here if you’d like to check it out: http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol6/7Aug1959MyCalltotheMinistry.pdf
It’s not especially brilliant or striking. In fact it’s very similar to most people I’ve ever heard talk about their sense of call. No bolts of lightning or burning bushes. Just listening, sensing, listening.
Dr. King speaks about his inner sense of call, mentions being called to his first congregation, and refers to seminary, an allusion to the need to cultivate his gifts for ministry, intellectual and otherwise.
In one short paragraph he touches on all three elements of a specific call to serve in some way. The inner sense of being nudged or drawn in some direction; the public affirmation of some community; and the presence (and need for cultivation) of specific gifts fit for that particular call.
The only aspect he doesn’t mention directly is his baptism. Baptism is foundational, for in it Christians receive the call to follow Jesus. He implies in this statement that the call to follow Jesus that came with baptism means for him that only a vocation in which he could serve both God and people would be fitting for him. He discerned that ministry, not medicine or law, was that vocation.
So how did he figure that out? Listening–in prayer, in conversation with other people, in reading scripture. Trying things out–taking courses to prepare for medicine and law, and of course ministry. It wasn’t not magic, and it wasn’t sudden.
Maybe that’s how heroes get made. They listen to the pain of the world, to the cries of people. They see the needs spreading before them. They prepare themselves. And when the call comes–through personal conviction and public affirmation–they act.
What do you hear going on around you today?