A sermon preached at the Methodist Church in Dale Street, Leamington Spa, on 8 April, 2018. A copy can be downloaded here.
Fifty years ago, on a hotel balcony, MLK was gunned down by a person who believed that, because of the colour of his skin, he was inferior. But much more than that, he was killed because he was a threat to the status quo. His message of equality, peace, non-violence and love, and his ability to stir the hearts of thousands in the US and around the world, were enough to make the strongest and most powerful nation on earth tremble. So the powerful did what they always do – they sought to rid themselves of the troublemaker.
It is a very familiar story to those of us who read our Bibles. But what we rarely think about is why those in power feel so threatened by the actions of people who, on the face of it, have no more power or weapons than a message and a vision. For MLK, it was the vision of the BELOVED COMMUNITY that seemed so ultimately threatening.
In 1956, he spoke of The Beloved Community as the end goal of nonviolent boycotts:
“the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”
‘Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.’ Acts 4:32
I spend a good deal of my time talking with folk about the plain meaning of Scripture. As you know, the Methodist Church is engaged in a debate at the moment about same-sex marriage and I have been involved in various working parties set up by the Conference to look at this. I am also Chair of Dignity and Worth, a new Methodist organisation campaigning openly for change to give full dignity and respect to LGBTQ+ people including equal marriage.