Summary: Using a story format - this sermon uses the eyes of Martin Luther King to explore the Easter message
He opens his bible. A special bible given to him by his mother on the day he got his doctorate. “Doctor Martin Luther King Jr” In the background he hears Coretta in the background putting the children to bed as he opens his bible to John chapter 20 verses 1 to 18 and begins to prepare his sermon for Easter Sunday. he’s ahead of himself, but it’s good to be prepared because there’s some big political speeches to do in the mean time
He likes Easter Sunday. They flock to hear him anyway - he is Martin Luther King and everyone wants to hear him… but on Easter people flock because it’s Easter and they want to hear about Jesus. They want to hear that “the ultimate destiny of man [is not}]a rendezvous with the dust” “The spint of man [is not]extinguished at death like a candle guttered by a passing wind” “That is the meaning of Easter. That is the question that Easter answers-that death is not the end!” (1)
He picks up his bible and reads “on the first day of the week, while it was still dark”
“while it was still dark”
It has been years now, the struggle for freedom, and sometimes it still feels so dark. He has been preaching love, and still they send out state troopers to beat innocent protesters, to beat them black and blue just because they ask for a land where black and white children go to school together, where anyone can sit on any bus seat and where no one is deprived of the vote because of the colour of their skin. So much is dark...Why did children get murdered, like those four little girls addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, killed in Sunday school in their baptist church when Klu Klux Klan members bombed. And yet like Mary Magdalene encountering the rolled away stone, he sees hints of something better come
“When it was still dark”
“Where in your life does it feel dark? Where does it feel as if injustice and evil are triumphing? Where do you feel squashed and dead?”
“The stone rolled away” - he thinks of prison guards surprised by the way he treats them as human beings, surprised by the way he asks after their families, surprised by the way he treats them like Mary was surprised by the stone, and Martin Luther king is surprised to, although he knows this is the way it should be, to see some of them begin to change. Surely this is a stone rolled away, a hint of Easter to come!
That’s what he’ll say that Sunday -
Where do you see the stone rolled away? Where do you see in your life the hint the hint of Easter coming? Where in the darkness to you see Sunday breaking through?
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb”
He thinks of Mary Magdalene
A woman. Jewish and Roman societies were as prejudiced against women as the Southern whites were against blacks. In a court case you needed two women’s evidence to be worth just one man’s. Like the laws that said every person was free to vote … once they had passed through a series of hoops that was easy for the white woman or man, but no negroe man or woman could ever pass.That battle had been won in 65 in part because of the many women who had joined the struggle.
He thought back particularly to Rosa Parks, the woman whose refusal to give up a seat had led to the Montgomery bus boycotts, that after 385 long days had led to the ruling that segregation of buses was illegal. " the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice"
Yes, that’s what he could preach on on Sunday, Rosa Parks as a modern day Mary Magdalene, the first to bear witness to the new order breaking into the world. Are you the next Mary Magdalene? and all the sisters would scream “Amen”
that was the message for the pulpit, thought Martin guiltily. Because he knew that Mary Magdalene was shocking not just because she was a woman. And he knew, what not many other people knew, that Rosa Parks was not the first woman to refuse to give up her seat. That nine months earlier, Claudette Colvin had also refused to give up her seat, but she was 15 pregnant and unmarried. It wasn’t “expedient” to use her as an example. Wait for someone else respectable, wait for a Rosa Parks, that’s what we did thought Martin guiltily, but Jesus didn’t wait for someone respectable, he took Mary Magdalene
Martin turned back to the bible