What the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Means to Me

What the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Means to Me

This is not going to be one of those blogs that end up being a history lesson. If you don’t know who the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is, then I suggest you ask Alexa, or Siri, or Google. Today, I want to share what we affectionately call MLK, Jr. Day means to me. If anyone knows me, they will agree that I have a servant heart, but one may not know that this is one of my favorite holidays, after Christmas and my birthday (May 20 for those who may not already have it on their calendar). It’s not my favorite holiday because of the color of my skin or because of the struggles the people before me had to endure so we could all live as one (although that is important too). But it’s my favorite holiday because it’s a day where we can remind ourselves that we should always be moving closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community”, a world where he envisioned “a global vision of peace, inclusion, and the equitable distribution of wealth.” Through his example, he taught us timeless values — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service.

Today also commemorates Dr. King’s great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation. Today is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. Today is also a day where we commemorate on this holiday the leader and the visionary who embraced the unity of all faiths in love and truth. The King Holiday also celebrates Dr. King’s global vision of the world house, a world whose people and nations had triumphed over poverty, racism, war and violence. And we can’t forget that this holiday honors the courage of a man who endured harassment, threats and beatings, and even wet to jail 29 times to achieve freedom for others.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all, it is a day of service. All across America on this day, millions of people perform service in hospitals and shelters and prisons and wherever people need some help. It is a day of volunteering to feed the hungry (this is what my family did), rehabilitate housing, tutoring those who can’t read, consoling the broken-hearted and a thousand other projects for building his dream Beloved Community.

Dr. King once quoted Mark 9:35, the scripture in which Jesus of Nazareth tells James and John “…whosoever will be great among you shall be your servant; and whosoever among you will be the first shall be the servant of all.” In one Dr. King’s last sermons, “The Drum Major Instinct” (February 4, 1968), he lifted up the value of service as the hallmark of a full life. “I’d like somebody to mention on that day Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others,” he said. “I want you to say on that day, that I did try in my life…to love and serve humanity.”

Ladies and gentleman, that entire sermon is such a memorable one for me (it’s linked above – go read it). But, when I read the part I just shared with you above, I get the chills! Every…single…time! Every time!!! There is a calling on my life to do just what God has asked me to do and it’s just what Dr. King preached about (before I was even born) – to love and serve humanity. Sometimes, I get in my own way and forget the humanity part – OK, and the love part (I’m just being honest). And when I do, life gets bit overwhelming for me. But then I remember to get back to the basics…I recall the personal commitment I made to God and myself to serve humanity with the vibrant spirit of unconditional love. I call on you to join me on commemorating Dr. King on this holiday, and every day. And with our hearts open to this spirit of unconditional love, we can indeed achieve Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. Raise your hand if you pledge to serve humanity, promote his teachings, and carry forward his legacy with me – not just the third Monday in January, but every day.

(For service opportunities in the Raleigh area, join Asbury Church in a month of service in February. Visit asburyraleigh.org/gonow for a listing of opportunities and to sign up.)

2 Comments

  1. Margaret

    Thank you Alicia for sharing your thoughts on today’s holiday. I think more people will stop and think what today actually means and hopefully put some thought into their own actions and figure out what they can do to serve others. Well written and very inspiring.

    • Alicia Petty (Author)

      Thank you Margaret! I hope to light a spark that will become a flame! You are greatly appreciated!

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