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Variations on a Dream

Forty-five years ago on this day August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by whose prophetic light we see today, spoke to the world from our nation’s capitol with the words of a dream. A dream that one day, justice would roll down like a mighty water to all men and women irrespective of biological makeup or physicality.

Today is a day that future generations will look back upon as the time when Dream and Fulfillment converged. Today a man, born of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya will become the first African American in history to accept the nomination of a major party for President of the United States. Today marks a fulfillment of the dream.

And yet the realization of Dr. King’s dream lies not as much in the story of an African-American man from Chicago on an improbable journey as in the story of all of us today who continue to live and work in a faith community characterized by the long shadow of prejudice and injustice. We are the recipients of the dream and the light it casts on the way in front of us today.

Dr. King recognized in 1963 not an end but a beginning. And so today, forty-five years later, even in the triumph of inclusion over exclusivity, amid this victory of acceptance over discrimination, we cannot sit back content. Today, forty-five years subsequent to the beginning of that dream, we must again remind ourselves of the fierce urgency of Now.

This is no time to escape inequity by means of equivocation, or as Dr. King said then, to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make evident the depth and breadth of the gospel we proclaim. Now is the time to remove the heavy blinders of gender inequity from our eyes and to see again for the first time that there is neither male nor female, Greek nor Jew, and yes neither gay nor straight, but that we are indeed created equal and as one within the family of the God we profess. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

Now as then, we have come to realize that our own destiny is tied inextricably to the destiny of the least among us. Until the peace, joy and assurance of God’s love fundamental to Adventist belief translates into assurance of peace-giving equality for all those in our community, we can never be satisfied.

We can never be satisfied so long as justice and equality reach to all our brothers and sisters except gays and lesbians. We can never be satisfied as long as the community of believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior refuses to confess with equal fervor that women deserve every right and privilege granted to men. We can never be satisfied while every president of our worldwide body is an affluent white male. To be satisfied now would be to silence the prophetic voice that for so long has guided us.

I will pour out my Spirit on all people, says the Lord. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your elderly will have a dream, and your young be filled with vision.

Where is the prophetic voice today? Where is the prophetic voice that calls us to reach down to the least of our brothers and sisters and raise them up to stand shoulder to shoulder with us? Where is the prophetic voice among us that calls on us to tear down our idols of male-dominance and homophobia? Who will prophesy to these dry bones?

I too have a dream deeply rooted in the prophetic dreams of our mothers and fathers that one day, we will live out the true meaning of the fundamental truth that

We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation.

I dream of a day when our church, like our nation, will offer up the best from among us for our highest positions of leadership, that those we name will also be women and minorities. I dream of a day when we will no longer pray “Thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth”, but we will be a people who make it so.

Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds of discrimination and inequity be rolled back as a scroll!

Shall we overcome? On this historic day of triumphant inclusion and acceptance, this one question remains.

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