Almost fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech. He began by speaking truth to our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
In spite of the problems that faced our nation it did not prevent King from being a person of hope.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are
presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
The next four Sundays before Lent we will be hearing from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. St. Paul had a dream too. He saw division in Corinth, but he had a dream of unity. We hear about that dream as he speaks about the gifts in the community. He was convinced that there were enough gifts of the Spirit to make the community a viable and forceful representation of the risen Christ. Paul was aware that no matter how significant the gifts are, unless they are used for some benefit they were absolutely wasted. Just having the gifts could tear a community apart. Using the gifts for the common good could help create the body of Christ.
How are you using your gifts?