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May 26, 2024

On June 23, 1963, in a nation beset with segregation, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the Detroit Walk to Freedom.  He said before a massive crowd,

Segregation is a new form of slavery.  … We are through with segregation now, henceforth and forever.  … I have a dream that one day little white children and little Negro children will be able to join hands as brothers and sisters.  … I have a dream that one day people will be judged on the content of their character, not on the color of their skin….and that all God’s children will be able to sing the words of that old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last!  Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!”

Three days later John F. Kennedy spoke from the Berlin wall in Germany to 400,000 West Germans.  West Berlin was supported by the Western allies who had defeated the Nazis in World War II.  The Soviet Union had captured East Germany.  Berlin was divided by a wall between Communist East Berlin and capitalist West Berlin.  East Berlin was full of poverty.  West Berlin was prosperous.  Kennedy said that if people don’t understand the difference between Communism and the free world, they should come to Berlin.  He said,

2000 years ago the proudest boast was, “Civis Romanus sum“ (I am a citizen of Rome).  Today in the world of freedom the proudest boast is “Ich bin Berliner” (I am a Berliner). …There are those who say that Communism is the wave of the future.  Let them come to Berlin!  …All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, Ich bin ein Berliner.

King was pledging himself to helping all Americans become free.  Kennedy was pledging himself to working with America to make the world free.  Each in his own way was strengthening America.

This Sunday during Memorial Day weekend, I’ll preach on “Strengthen the National Family” from Esther 4.  It’s the story of the queen risking her life to free her people.  We’ll talk about “See the Nation’s Condition,” verses 1-7; and “Do Something for Your Nation,” verses 8-17.  As we celebrate Memorial Day weekend, let’s pledge ourselves to helping people become free in Christ, wherein the Spirit of Christ empowers us to love everyone.


Jim Meek


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