Last year (2016) was my first time to attend an MLK service. I will be honest and say that it was not my idea. It was due to a class assignment for my final semester of seminary. Allow me to be clear that I never thought negatively of MLK day, Dr. King himself, or anything that a person looking for a derogatory reason might find as supporting evidence. I simply never knew enough nor was educated or informed about these gatherings across the country to honor this humble yet magnificent servant. In fact, before my first MLK service last year, I could not have told you much about the man let alone any significant sermons he preached or quotes that still echo to this day.
On this day in this new year of 2017, I will sadly not be able to participate due to several passings that are affecting our church, requiring my involvement which I count as a great privilege and honor. So, for this post I would like to reflect more on the quote you see above as well as my experience on this day in 2016:
There is a greater burden than love, and that is hate. Popular songs have taught me often that love is necessary, it is available, it is life-giving, and it may even cause me to give up my life…and in the end, all I need is love. I have been taught by my family – and I am so thankful for this – that love is going beyond the duty of being blood-kin. Love is an investment that will always yield a crop of more and greater love. Love is more than emotion, yet we express love with emotional phrases and physical gestures not limited to saying, “I love you,” or offering a kiss and a hug. Love is a burden in that it carries weight on us and causes us to pour out our entire being. I could easily say that love is as much a privilege as it is a burden, and it is a burden that is great and worthy.
Yet, there is a greater burden than love, and that is hate. Hate is also taught through popular songs that it is gratifying, available, life-taking, and will inevitably cost me my life…and in the end, hate will overwhelm me. I have seen hate work its way through relationships, especially via the means of holding a grudge, a heavy burden that more easily sticks to a person than love. Hate is an investment that will always yield weeds of deeper and darker hate. Hate is much deeper than an emotion, and it is expressed in ways completely opposite of love. Hate is a burden that weighs heavier and heavier, sucking the life out of all who fall prey so that there is nothing left but rotting flesh as bones have been dissolved by its powerful grasp. Hate has no privilege and it has no honor yet it is indeed a greater burden than love that too many people carry.
The UNcommon Perspective of choosing the burden of love over the burden of hate is no small departure from modern day practice. Our words speak for one while supporting the other, and we sadly do not recognize our own folly. With this in mind, I point you to the words that I heard for the first time one year ago as we sang, “Lift Every Voice and Sing:” We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, we have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
Today, take the UNcommon Perspective and choose the burden of love over the greater (and worse) burden of hate.