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Kindness Day

by davesandel on January 18th, 2021

Monday, January 18, 2021 (today’s lectionary)

Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kindness Day

Brothers and sisters, every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God. But he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.

On January 15, 1929 Michael King, Jr. was born. His dad became enamored with Martin Luther and both their names. Martin Luther King grew up as a brilliant 5’7” black man. People said he was short, but my dad was 5’7” tall, and I never thought he was short.

The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

His reputation as a womanizer was seriously exaggerated by J. Edgar Hoover, who was also certain he was a Communist. He was arrested more than 30 times, often (always?) on trumped up charges. He was stabbed in the chest ten years before his assassination in Memphis, and the doctor said even one sneeze that day probably would have killed him.

He learned obedience from what he suffered. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God.

Those ten years of life God granted him until 1968 were years of powerful non-violence and firm kindness toward powerful people and poor people. Dr. King bridged gaps between rich and poor, white and black, men and women. In 1983 Ronald Reagan, a white conservative Republican president, inaugurated the holiday we celebrate today. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson, a white southern Democrat president, listened to King speak in public and in private, then forced a landmark Civil Rights Voting Act through Congress.

No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the wine will burst the skins and both wine and skins are ruined.

Margaret wanted Miles to understand why today is a holiday. She didn’t want to talk much about Dr. King’s death, or his persecution while he was alive, or even about his insistence on equality for black children, men and women. She wanted Miles to understand Dr. King’s kindness, his determination to meet anything and everything with non-violence, in other words, with kindness.

So for Miles, Margaret described Martin Luther King as a minister of kindness, and this holiday, the third Monday in January, as Kindness Day. I think that’s cool. No wonder Margaret won awards in Louisville when she interned as a teacher there. This is not so much a day to rekindle or remember old anger as it is be grateful for the goodness and kindness God sends to us through each other. If you want to know more about that, just ask Miles.

Abraham Lincoln’s words as he began his presidency in 1861 break our hearts because they were ignored, then hundreds of thousands of soldiers were killed and maimed, and the United States was never really united again. But … as Jesus inspired Gandhi in India and then Dr. King in the USA to stand their ground, Lincoln’s words gather strength and inspire us to rise up and turn toward each other rather than away in firmness, not anger, resting in the endless and absolute love of God:

We are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over our broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

(Hebrews 5, Psalm 110, Hebrews 4, Mark 2)

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