About 10 years ago I got on a bus with about 30 college students to trace the life of Martin Luther King. The trip started at his birthplace in Atlanta, Georgia and ended in Memphis, Tennessee, staring up at the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel where he was killed.
The most moving part of the trip for me were stops at Selma and Birmingham, Alabama. Driving across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and sitting in the pews of the 16th Street Baptist Church where Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair were killed one Sunday morning. Their lives were taken by a man named Robert Chambliss who placed over 15 sticks of dynamite underneath the stairs leading to a room where they were changing into their choir robes.
After talking to the girls’ Sunday school teacher we walked across the street to the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum. There in the Museum I read King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail Cell as I stood in front a replica of the cell. In the letter he pleaded with his white brothers in Christ to stand with him against the injustices of racism.
King’s letter was written in April of 1963. Most Christian leaders who read it chose not to respond. King was just rocking the boat. He was too impatient. It wasn't a convenient time to address his concerns. The bomb went off on a warm September morning just five months later.
It took the deaths of Addie Mae and her friends help middle class white believers realize that fighting injustice is our spiritual calling. We don’t need to wait for a special call to fight injustice. God issued that call hundreds of years before Christ when over and over again he told us to stand with the poor, the fatherless, and the immigrant (literally, “the alien within your gates”). Jesus reinforced the call in his classic story of the Good Samaritan, a story that reminds us that those who have been robbed beaten, and left for dead by the world are our neighbors, and that we are to sacrificially love them.
Injustice didn’t end in 1963 and it isn’t limited to Birmingham, Alabama.
Injustice exists in Springfield Ohio. And in Dayton. And in Urbana. And in every other American town or city.
Let’s not just do something. Let’s do something just.
Also read "Something Strange happened in Birmingham"
At Central Christian Church we are committed to addressing issues of justice and standing with those in need. Jesus didn't put us in Springfield so that we could worship comfortably in a beautiful sanctuary. He put us in springfield so that give our most vulnerable neighbors a taste of heaven and a relationship with Jesus. Join us for worship at 10:30 Sunday Mornings. Join us in community service the rest of the week.
"This blog is my way of connecting with people at Central and beyond to encourage them to make their space in the world more like Heaven."
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog reflect my thoughts and opinions as an individual, not the formal positions of our church. Central includes people with a wide range of opinions on important issues like those addressed in my posts. It is also a place where we can discuss these issues with civility and grace.