All Saints' Church
January 19, 2020
The Rev. Howard E. Blunt
Let us pray:
O Lord we give thanks for all divine manifestations in Epiphany tide. And yes we give thanks
for our American prophet the unexpected revelation of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. May his life and work be ever remembered in our time. In the Father in the Son in the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I think this is the second time I have been asked to preach here on this weekend. The first time it was 2000 something I can not remember exactly. But I remember speaking about my recall of what he was like, the effect he made on all all around. I remember telling us here that he was killed in Holy Week 1968. Those of you who can recall that year you know it was an annus horribilis. Today in this time frame we should hope that such a one might rise up and come among us again. O lord may it be so. I was talking with myself ( I do that) and then others about him. In the midst of that conversation, I heard myself say, if he had not occurred in our history he would need to be invented. For he came at the right moment for the right reason and the right effect. The moment was the era of Civil Rights and the war in Vietnam. There as on was our need for a divine resounding voice speaking truth to power for the powerless. The effect we should hope is that the ark of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. That was a glorious phrase in his oratory.
I believe in spite of all the possible nay says We in this country and even beyond we are far better off because there was in his time such a person such a prophet and such a martyr for this troubled landscape USA. You know I was going look at this celebration from the mixed mess of our contemporary America. I am so tired of doing that. I am watching the media too much. Maybe you are doing this also and you find it a hopeless fog. Surely our national life is in a fowl miasma; it is like a fog that that hasn't lifted. I consulted a friend of mine, he is a fellow priest who pastors a parish in Bedstuy. He advised me to leave the fog behind, get out of it. He said and ask yourself "who are we now because there was this man who rose up from his pulpit in the city of Atlanta and preached to the world. " He said we Americans are now far different and blessed by far, raised to a new level way above the one on which we once stood. And that platform is not going to changed. " No matter what else happens. " This priest serves his constituency in Bedstuy and he was telling me that he and his congregation feels and knows they are an equal partner with the human race with the Christian faith this country and the city of New York. I stood there in his office, him looking at me straight in the eye and I was transfixed. I was hearing good news calling me out of my fog. I tell you of another who was called out of his usual life. John the Baptist was full of doing his work day to day, calling people to repentance. It must have been hard going. I baptize you I baptize you and you. Suddenly his work is given a new direction. His sermon is changed. Look at him doing his ceremony at the Jordan. I baptize you and you, then the son of man comes down by the water, John is startled to see him. He says behold the Lamb of God. After that every thing changed. We are all different and blessed because John the Baptist met Jesus. Have you noticed our moment in the liturgy at this Jordan, All Saints, it is when we get out our pews and we meet each other to say the peace of Christ be with you. This gesture should tell means we go from glory to glory with each other in communion with Christ. I believe something indelible takes place each Sunday here. When we hear the scriptures listen to the sermon, say the prayers and receive the sacrament of renewal of Easter. Take a look at last Sunday when we took two little ones into our arms, son and cousin to Mother Julia Stroud. We baptized them and told them you are marked Christ's own forever and therefore you are lights to the world.
As I look out from this pulpit I see a whole conclave marked as Christ's own for ever shining and using lights for the world around you. Moreover we are a people here who circle the globe. It is a blessed diversity bringing light to our corner of the globe. These Park Slope people pastored by Fr. Steve. It is a place that has a full share of Martin Luther King. I hope there are many other gatherings in Christ like this one.
I think my friend in Bedstuy was saying this type of mixture would not be possible but for Dr. King. His coming was a surprise and not always accepted by the way. But gradually folks understood his prophecy and now we have a holiday in his honor. That holiday is holy. Did you know that this man came from a line of preachers. His father, I believe his grandfather and then
himself. Three generations from the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. GA. It is now a national
shrine. If you go to Atlanta you should not miss going there. The original church is cared for by the parks department. And across the street is a brand new modern and larger ediface where thousands gather every Sunday. I was there some years ago. The service I attended began with "come thou font of every blessing" It was a joy to be in that font of every blessing. Such a blessing came from the witness of that place. That blessing has touched every church, every synagogue every mosque. It has circled the globe and we here receive its benefit gratefully. And
this blessing wonder of wonders it continues. It is now a succession generation to generation.
In just a few days we are going see one of our own going on and on to continue that succession. I think we are all very proud of this young man. He will pick up the baton in St. Paul's race that is set before us. When Fr Spencer leads us in the consecration giving thanks for the creation and salvation of the Lord Jesus we could include thanksgiving for the recent baptisms here, for the phenomenon of Dr. King every year and now for the one who will made deacon next saturday.
Did you know that Martin L. King was originally named Michael. His father changed it to Martin. He must have wanted to put him in line with the great reformer of 1517. The one banged his theses at the Wittenberg Gate. But I would offer that his name might have stayed as Michael. For in the Book of Revelation Michael is the who leads an army of the righteous against all perfidy
all sinfulness all straying from the holy way. I googled his church in Atlanta and found the service there for last sunday. The minister used his text from the 2nd chapter in the Prophet Habakkuk. Not a text usually heard from but it goes like this: "I will stand on my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart. I will keep watch to see what God will say to me.....then the Lord answered me and said: write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that the runner may read
it. This latter day prophet descended upon our scene in the 20th century and wrote a vision on tablets so that no one going by could miss it. His vision was all God's children hold hands with each other, all God's children would maintain respect for each other and all would refrain any violent intention nation to nation, religion to religion, race to race. For he was like the vertable Michael in the book of Revelation. That one who descended to earth to route out all bedevilment in the human heart. Some of us were in our study of that book and there many viewpoints to
consider that difficult book. However you see it trying to head us towards the ultimate Kingdom of God. I 'd like say that we have glimpses of that kingdom here and surely part of that glimpse is of Martin Luther King. Gratias ago pro Martini Lutheri. Pray that in this present time we do not lose sight of this man and his work. I told you my priest friend offered me a very optimistic out look. Let us pray that he is right and that we will be enabled to keep our lights burning. Amen.