Martin Luther King, Jr.

This coming Monday is our nation’s MLK Day Holiday. The day before, Sunday the 14th , at 3:30 pm, is our Oak Harbor Community’s MLK celebration service at 3:30 pm at the Mission Ministry Christian Center church at 1751 Goldie Rd. I’ll be there, and I hope you will be as well. I love learning about our nation’s history. I am especially inspired by the civil rights movement and above all else, about racial reconciliation (see Ephesians 2). These themes are epicenter to the gospel of Jesus and to the Kingdom of God.

On the night before the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated (April 4, 1968), almost 56 years ago—he delivered a 43-minute extemporaneous speech to a crowd of more than 2,500 people at an historic black church in Memphis. It became known as the “mountaintop” speech, one of his most renowned. In that speech, he referred to an incident that had taken place ten years earlier.

On September 20, 1958, Dr. King appeared in Blumstein’s Department Store in Harlem, where he was signing copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom. He was abruptly stabbed in the chest by a mentally ill woman who had cut in line to get at him. He was rushed to the ER and the Doctor told the press after his surgery that the blade of the knife came so close to the aorta of the heart that had he even sneezed, he almost certainly would have died.

Fast forward ten years (1968), to what became Dr. King’s last public speech he ever gave. In that speech, he referenced back to a letter he received just days after the stabbing from a purported “little girl,” who said,  

“Dear Dr. King, I am a ninth-grade student, at the White Plains High
School. While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. I’m simply writing you to say that I‘m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.”
My Very Best,    Jean Kepler
(actually a 37 year old mother who was an activist writer)
If I had sneezed…” became King’s magnetic, repeated refrain that electrified his famous "mountaintop" speech which he used from Kepler’s letter. He began to enumerate all the many significant civil rights movement events and defining moments he would have missed had he “sneezed” (and died).

This weekend, I personally celebrate America’s Pastor and Prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who called all Americans to become “The Beloved Community” (King’s language for the Kingdom of God). Dr. King calls us again (from his speech given 56 years ago) to engage our lives in…

“Standing up for the best in the American Dream and taking the whole nation back to the great wells of Democracy, which were dug deep by the founding fathers, in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”

You can watch this 4:35 video where Dr. King tells the story of his stabbing and the letter he received.

You can check out the full manuscript of the speech at this link:

Until we are one!

Pastor David 😊

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