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'Strength to love': a reflection honoring MLK Day

Rev. Louise BrittsBy Rev. Louise Britts, Chaplain, Optage Hospice

Many people are familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, “I Have A Dream." He talked about an America that lived up to the words of our founding parents that all people are created equal and opportunity is accessible to all. The word he left out but is the underpinning of this reality is LOVE, which is God’s dream for humankind. Now Dr. King knew that LOVE was the glue that pieces together the tapestry of cultures and people that make up this world.

In his sermon titled “Love Your Enemies,” he wrote, ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make [people] better. Love is the only way…” 

But MLK in his “I Have A Dream” speech did not use the word Love. Why? He felt people in our world had relegated love to what he called, “sentimental bosh.” We had lost the radical understanding of God’s Love as a redemptive, creative, transformative power.

In MLK’s economy, it was this dynamic love of God that flowed through us to create what he called Beloved Community. This is where the dream of MLK and God’s dream intersect, because love in community is the core of God’s dream for humankind. Love is the power of God that heals and binds up, frees and comforts, pushes and pulls us to reconcile with others, forgive others and connects us with others.”

When we celebrate MLK day, we not only hear about his dream, but also, if we listen deeper, we hear God’s dream as expressed in John 17:21: “May they be one as you and I are one.” We celebrate God’s dream — a dream that is revealed in God’s promises that are timeless, enduring and sustaining in every generation. It is a dream that starts and ends with love — love for God and love for one another as the beloved community. Or, as MLK would say, “God’s dream for humankind is lived out when people open themselves and demonstrate the strength to LOVE.”  

The Rev. Louise Britts serves as chaplain with Optage Hospice. She is ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and served many years as pastor to Minneapolis congregations. She continues her parish ministry as pastor emerita of Messiah Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis.

Looking for ways to observe MLK Day? Watch the rebroadcast of the 2021 Minneapolis MLK Holiday Breakfast, held this morning and featuring Dr. Bernice King, daughter of MLK, and Ambassador Andrew Young. The video is available for viewing free of charge beginning at 12 p.m. today.

Find more reflections, devotions, music and other resources on the Pastoral Care website.

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