The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. deserved his name and his titles, all of them. I'm not sure how much of the old German who was his namesake Dr. King ever read. But Martin the Reformer had a fairly simple test for any piece of doctrine, scramental practice or theology:
Does it make the most of Christ?
Dr. King was nearly killed on September 20, 1958 when a mentally ill woman drove a 7-inch letter opener into his chest as Dr. King signed copies of his first book at a Harlem bookstore. The blade landed between his heart and his left lung, right next to his aorta. The surgeon told Dr. King that if he had sneezed before the blade was extracted, he would have punctured the aorta and bled to death internally. The incision left a cross-shaped scar on his chest, a mark he carried the rest of his life.
He was only 29.
It would be another 10 years before an assassin's bullet would take him down in Memphis. He was only 39. The cross was still on his chest that day.
It is fitting that after all this time we have finally begun to transform Martin Luther King, Jr. Day into a day of service. Here in Portland, there are 70 community service projects underway, staffed with 2000 volunteers. Next year, I hope there are 140 projects with at least 4000 people.
In his brief 39 years, Dr. King made the most of Christ and put his life on the line almost daily.
Thanks be to God!
My flag is at half staff today.