Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What a Difference a Sermon Made


In 1963, the youth minister at First Methodist of Park Ridge, IL  took his youth group to hear a sermon in downtown Chicago.  The preacher was Martin Luther King, Jr. and his sermon was "Sleeping Through the Revolution."  After the sermon, the youth minister took the group backstage to meet and shake hands with Dr. King.

Hillary Rodham (Clinton) describes that sermon as an important turning point in her life.  She later reminisced, "At the time, I didn't realize how important that event would become for me.'" The day he died was another.  Hillary was student body president at Wellesley.  The next day she, wearing a black armband, called for a two day strike at the school. 

My purpose is not to play politics.  I have no idea who I will vote for this falls US presidential election.  I live in Oregon and we are one of the very LAST states to hold our primary.  Hillary just made her first visit to the state of the entire campaign this past weekend. (Barak Obama made his first the week before). I'm not even a Democrat, so I can't vote in the Democratic primary. 

But what struck me was the impact that one sermon had on a life.  Now, granted, there were additional experiences that shaped Hillary to be who she is.  But she points to a sermon as one of the foundational turning points of her life. 

"Oh Lord, that in a lifetime even one of my sermons would be sermons that someone can say was a pivotal turning point in a life." 


[I couldn't find the specific sermon with that title & date on the Internet.  I found a similarly entitled sermon (Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution) that was preached at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. less than a week before MLK's death in 1968.  I suspect that there were at least some similarities, although this sermon makes heavy references to the Vietnam War, which I doubt would have engendered such attention in 1963.  His text was from the book of Revelation: "Behold I make all things new; former things are passed away." and he used as a central picture the picture of Rip VanWinkle who slept 20 years and, indeed, slept through the American Revolution.  There are (were) three revolutions happening at the time King preached: 

There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today. In a sense it is a triple revolution: that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution in weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapons of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world. Yes, we do live in a period where changes are taking place. And there is still the voice crying through the vista of time saying, "Behold, I make all things new; former things are passed away."

A sermon well worth your time reading.  If anyone knows where I could find the text of that ORIGINAL 1963 sermon, I would appreciate hearing where it can be found.]

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