Over two millennia ago, our great God, whose image we bear to this day, emptied himself, ultimately saying “It is finished.” This momentous decree, although heard by only a few, came to become a great beacon light of hope to all humanity who had been seared in the flames of the curse. The rising of the Son came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But two thousand years later, the Church still forgets her freedom. Two thousand years later, the mission of God can still sadly be crippled by the paradoxical fetters of power and the deceiving chains of strength. Two thousand years later, the Church often floats on a lonely lifeboat of conviction in the midst of a vast ocean of the hopeless, her cries for truth overpowering the pleas of the drowning. Two thousand years later, the Church is suddenly languishing in the corners of American society and is increasingly discovering herself to be an exile in her own land.
When the Architect of our faith wrote the magnificent words of the Law, Prophets, Poets, Gospels and Epistles, He signed a promise to all humanity. The promise that all humanity, yes, every tribe and every nation and every tongue, would be offered life and liberty from the curse.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of love and gentleness. We must not allow our passion for truth to degenerate into social and cultural violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting unlove with love. We cannot walk alone.
Go back to your neighborhoods, go back to your work, go back to your families, go back to your friends, telling them that we still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in Gospel.
I have a dream today that we will be peacemakers, especially in the political realm.
I have a dream that one day the Church will let her love be known to all.
I have a dream that one day we will not insist on every right, every law, every custom, but will be gracious, forgiving, patient, and even merciful.
I have a dream that when we are slandered, we will answer with kindness.
I have a dream that one day we will endure hardship and troubles without whining, instead bearing the pain of suffering with faith, understanding, forbearance, and even joy.
I have a dream that my three children will grow to maturity in a Church that will be family instead of a meeting place, an authentic community characterized by kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
I have a dream today that we will embody the wisdom that is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, knowing that peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the Church will truly be the Body, and someday the glory of the Lord shall be revealed when the One who said, “It is finished” will return and say “It has begun!”
This is our hope.
This is our hope, and this is what allows us to dare to dream for today.
We dream today because someone said yesterday that “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.” And so let us join our words with our actions and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
*This post is (hopefully obviously) essentially a plagiarism of MLK Jr’s speech and various NT authors.