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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

January 22, 2010

THUS FAR ON THE WAY

I am a preacher.

And probably, because of that, I deal in the ancient and the modern. I look to the past to make sense of the present (I have long since given up on making sense of the future, and frankly am lucky if I can make sense of the present…but I digress).

As I do every year around the time of the Martin Luther King Holiday, I find myself reliving the actual moments of that tragic day in April of 1968 when King was shot and killed. I was in high school; and our community, like countless others, was stunned. Our high school was in upheaval as many walked out to a memorial service for the slain leader. I wondered then how history would deal with this famous man.

Years later the flame of his words and commitment to justice is as bright as ever and through much hard work, a national day to celebrate his life and especially his work has been put into place. But as I grow older, I still want to see how the legacy of Martin Luther King unfolds for my grandchildren’s generation.

Well, I have seen the future. I saw it last Sunday morning sitting on the floor of the sanctuary in front of the altar and communion table. I was seated there with about 25 or 30 children for the “Kid’s Message.”

For the Kid’s Message, I have decided that it is not so much MY message to the kids; but rather the KID’S message to ME. And last Sunday they schooled me.

I showed them half a dozen pictures of Dr. King. “Do you know this man?” I asked. And the majority knew his picture as quickly as any TV or movie character that they had seen. (I am making an assumption that TV and movie characters are THE most quickly and definitely recognized images for our kids. And if they are able to instantly shout out King’s name, then I am impressed.)

Next I asked if they knew anything about this man. And with that I got in rapid succession stories from 4, 5 and 10 year-olds about the Civil Rights Era with King.
“His house was bombed.” (True)
“He told people that Black people were equal and mattered.” (True)
“I got a new watch for Christmas!” (True, but a bit off topic.)
“He wanted Black people to ride in the front of the bus and not the back.” (True)
“He finished the work of Abraham Lincoln.” (True. Yes, there is much work still to do, but linking King to the work of Lincoln is remarkable and complex. Some teachers and this student were doing their intellectual and historical homework.)

No, lasting peace and the establishment of complete justice throughout the world have not been achieved and will always be but a generation away from fruition or futility. Yet, I have seen the present and for once glimpsed the future. Our children and grandchildren are getting the lessons and connecting the dots to understand that Martin Luther King’s life was and is devoted to compassion and equality. I have renewed hope.

THAT is what I learned last Sunday morning in worship when you thought I was presenting the “Kid’s Message.” In reality, the “Kid’s Message” was being presented to me.

AND you.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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