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Reflections on Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A reflection from Samantha Ivery, Director of Diversity & Equity Initiatives:

Today, January 17, 2022,  we commemorate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on January 15, 1929, and some might say he did not live a complete life, that he was taken too soon. At the time of his death he was a son, brother, husband and father. He was a friend, pastor, community organizer and activist. When reflections are written and accolades pronounced, the legacy that is mentioned is always linked to his tireless leadership in the fight for civil rights. He is lauded as one of the most gifted orators of our lifetime and he used his gift as a writer, preacher, civil rights leader and activist. Today, we pause to reflect on the man, the son, husband and father who, on April 9, 1967, just 362 days before his assassination, delivered the sermon, “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.”

Today, as you reflect on the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., take some time to reflect on this sermon that illustrated his servant leadership and foreshadowed the importance of living on purpose with a purpose. One lesson we can take from his life and this sermon is that we need to balance living with life. If you believe that life is indeed a gift, then what we do with our lives can also be a gift.

The Length of Life

The Breadth of Life

The Height

Samantha Ivery

Director of Diversity & Equity Initiatives

Social Justice Center

The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life

Reflections

The Length of Life

  • the length of life is the inward concern for one’s own welfare
  • it is that inward concern that causes one to push forward, to achieve one’s own goals and ambitions
  • before you can love other selves adequately, you’ve got to love your own self properly
  • after accepting ourselves and our tools, we must discover what we are called to do

Consider the Good Samaritan who chose to ask, “What will happen to this person if I do not stop to help them?” and not, “What will happen to me if I stop helping this person?”
What will happen to humanity if I don’t help? Let us be concerned about others because we are dependent on others.

The Breadth of Life

  • The breadth of life is the outward concern for the welfare of others
  • a person has not begun to live until they can rise above the narrow confines of their own individual concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity

Consider the Good Samaritan who chose to ask, “What will happen to this person if I do not stop to help them?” and not, “What will happen to me if I stop helping this person?”
What will happen to humanity if I don’t help? Let us be concerned about others because we are dependent on others.

The Height of Life

  • The height of life is the upward reach for God…you got to have all three of these to have a complete life.
  • There are a lot of people who affirm the existence of God with their lips, and they deny his existence with their lives 

Are you so involved in looking at the man-made inventions that you unconsciously forget to look at the sun and its shining light —that gets up in the eastern horizon every morning and moves across the sky with a kind of symphony of motion and paints its technicolor across the blue—a light that is not man-made

Messages from the Sermon

When deprived of every freedom, remember that we still have the freedom to think, the freedom to pray in our own way, and the freedom to reflect and to meditate.

Additional Reflections and Resources

The King Center: It Starts with Me: Shifting Priorities to Create the Beloved Community

The Other America

The Three Evils of Society

I’ve Been to the Mountaintop

The Quest for Peace and Justice

MLK Day Legacy and History

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