Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his last Sunday sermon on Palm Sunday, March 31, 1968, at the National Cathedral (Episcopal) in Washington, D.C. Four days later, on April 4, he was shot on the balcony of his hotel in Memphis, Tenn.
King quotes two passages from the 16th chapter of the Book of Revelation as a foundation for his sermon: “Behold I make all things new, former things are passed away.” Using a number of examples and stories, he went on to name the injustices of war, poverty and racism as destroying human dignity and dividing a world that would appear to be closer because of immense technological advances.
Remaining divided and falling asleep at the hour of greatest need (ala the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane) is a great temptation. If we remain awake through a great revolution, our lives will be radically altered and we will have a glimpse of heaven on earth.
The roots of King’s revolution against evil and injustice and abiding hope were not anchored in the soil of political philosophy but in his faith and God’s promise to us.
“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair the stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”
Thank God for John, who centuries ago out on a lonely, obscure island called Patmos caught vision of a new Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, who heard a voice saying, “Behold, I make all things new — former things are passed away.”
God grant that we will be participants in this newness and this magnificent development. If we will but do it, we will bring about a new day of justice and brotherhood and peace. “And that day the morning stars will sing together and the sons (and daughters) of God will shout for joy.”[Click here to read or listen to the full sermon]
King was definitely speaking about large scale problems in the world, but I think he knew from his own life struggles that despair starts in our own hearts. It’s not just despair in the face of grave injustice, but despair in simply not trusting God’s plan for us.
All things will be made new. God has made a promise to us.
Will we remain awake for the revolution of love not just in our world but in our hearts?