In our Communion service this morning we finished by praying – as always – that God would receive our souls and bodies as a living sacrifice and send us out into the world to live and work to his praise and glory.
As I was saying these words today, I was struck by how Martin Luther King had truly embodied this prayer.
Today we remember the assassination of this great, courageous and Christian man fifty years ago. And, as we listen again to his inspired and inspiring speeches, I find it hard to imagine how anyone can not believe in God. As we see the spirit of God so powerfully at work in this man.
Listening to the Memphis speech at Mason Temple, which was given the night before King died, it’s hard not to draw parallels with Christ himself – the one who lived in total obedience to the will of God and the one in whom we most fully see who God is.
It is night. There is a thunderstorm raging outside. The shutters of Temple Hall are banging. And King is gathered together with his friends, seemingly knowing that he will soon die. He doesn’t want to die. But he sees it as more important to do God’s will than to escape death. Which, of course, reminds us very much of Jesus and his desire for God to take the ‘cup of death’ from him – ‘Yet not my will but Yours,’ he prays.
King is a man who offers up his soul and body to be a living sacrifice. And God takes this gift and brings something amazing out of it. And, in affirmation of his presence and power, God takes King up the mountain top, as He took Moses up Mount Nebo thousands of years before, to see the Promised Land. God assures King that his people will find the justice that they are seeking.
King says, ‘Like anybody I would like to live a long life…But I’m not concerned about all that now. I just want to do God’s will…I may not get there with you but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.’
A year earlier, in another speech, King spoke of the arc of the moral universe being long but bending towards justice. He meant that it takes a long time and much sacrifice for the will of God to be done – for the world to be as God wants it to be – but we will get there in the end, to a world of justice and fairness for all.
To believe this - is to have faith, to have faith in Christ and in men and women who have given there lives to do God’s will, to bring justice.
So let’s pray the Post Communion prayer today – thanking God for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice of Martin Luther King and offering to be living sacrifices ourselves too.
We can’t all be Martin Luther Kings.
But can you imagine a world where we were all truly living and working to God’s praise and glory?