Monday, January 19, 2015

How Do We Tell Our Children?

As a pastor with a spouse who is a ministry professional, Sundays are a busy day in our house. There is generally a mad scramble to get everyone ready and on their way out the door on time. Yesterday was no exception to the pace of life.

Generally my wife and I each take one of our children to worship with us (we serve in separate places). That ride to worship is always an interesting time. In my car we often listen to some kind of music. Yesterday my 6-1/2 year old and I were listening to The City Harmonic's album "I Have a Dream (It Feels Like Home)" As we pulled up to the parking lot of the church, we neared the end of the second track, "Spark" where they include a portion of Martin Luther King Jr's last speech which then leads into a drum heavy groove for a song based on King's words.

As we listened to the words, my inquisitive 6-1/2 year old daughter asked "why did they record Martin Luther King's speech?"

She knows that King was an important historical figure and what he stood for, so I explained that because of his prominence they recorded and broadcast his important words so that more people could hear them. We then began talking about how he used the image of Moses leading God's people to the promised land (a story she is versed in as our Children's Music and Drama group is participating in a production of that story this Spring).

As I talked about King's role and why his words are still important today, the words simply would not come out.  It wasn't that I didn't have words I wanted to say, it's simply that the words got choked in my throat amid the tears that were coming. This has happened to me before when I've tried to sing particular hymns in the church that seem to speak of a ideal world that currently doesn't exist.

How do I tell my daughter, my innocent child, that the words that King spoke in 1968 are still relevant today and still need to be broadcast, listened to, digested, and heard?  How do I tell her that the fight that King and the many who were involved in the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960's is a fight that is still going on today? How do I tell her that in 2015, the color of someone's skin or the heritage they represent still determines whether or not they get a fair chance in life?

I'm not sure how I tell her those things, but I do know this... part of my call, my heart's great passion, is to use the platform I have been given, the voice that I have been privileged with, to stand alongside and give voice to those who are still not being heard.

Listen to the words that King spoke in 1968. Listen closely to what he is saying.  If these words offend you today, if these words make you feel uncomfortable today, if these words call you to stand up for someone and challenge a system that has for too long been broken, then heed these words and hear the call on your life. Do not let today be a day that passes you by. As Ghandi said, "be the change you wish to see in the world."