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Before we get started let me give you a little background on the topic. I must first of all confess that I was not the creative genius behind this topic, Dr Martin Luther King was. I must also confess that the first time I heard it was not from a quote from Dr. King. I heard it for the first time when Obama delivered his speech last Tuesday (May 6th 2008) after winning the democratic primary in South Carolina. He was explaining to the crowd why he was running for president of the United States.
He said, and I quote “I am running because of what Dr. King called “The Fierce Urgency of Now.” I am running because I do believe there’s such a thing as being too late. And that hour is almost here.”1
That grabbed my attention so I did some research on when, how and why it was used by Dr. King because the words just would not give my conscience any rest. He used the phrase in an address delivered to the Clergy and laymen concerned about the war in Vietnam, at Riverside Church on 4 April 1967 in New York City. A speech he entitled “Beyond Vietnam” It was a most powerful delivery:
(Copies of the speech available)
I will just quote a portion of Dr. King’s speech; he said, “The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world.
Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.
He went on to say:
We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity…We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect.”2
So what does this have to do with us, pastor? We were not around when Vietnam was at war with America! Dr King was a great man who fought for civil rights but all of that is history now pastor, so with all due respect, what does all this have do to with me? I will tell you!
As Dr. King said, We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time.
Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late."
And that is precisely what this has to do with us! God rested this in my spirit! It wouldn’t leave me alone, until I started writing!
So I knew God had something to say to us today about the fierce urgency of now! I am talking about this today because my conscience leaves
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