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A Reflection on MLK Day

By Barry Jones
In eLetter
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As we enter into the weekend that this nation sets aside to remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I find myself struck by the question, “How did Dr. King and his followers find the inner resources necessary to endure all the hardships required of them in their fight for freedom, justice and equality?” And I can't help but think that at least part of the answer can be found in the following pledge required of all those who participated in the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement of 1963:

I hereby pledge myself—my person and body—to the nonviolent movement. Therefore I will keep the following ten commandments:

  1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
  2. Remember always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation—not victory.
  3. Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
  4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
  5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.
  6. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
  7. Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
  8. Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
  9. Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
  10. Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.

I sign this pledge, having seriously considered what I do and with the determination and will to persevere.

As I read through this pledge it challenges me to consider my own commitments in the spiritual life. Am I committed to the spiritual practices that my calling requires of me? Do I even know what those practices are? Am I cultivating the inner resources that I need for my own work that I see and so admire in Dr. King and the many unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement?

I hope all of us will take some time this weekend to reflect on our own calling to partner with God in making this world a better place. Perhaps consider using this pledge to examine your own spiritual commitments and practices. And may God give us the spiritual depth required to live our lives and pursue our callings with courage and fortitude.

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