July 24, 2014

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The Time is Ripe

Recently, Imam Plemon El-Amin, the distinguished Muslim leader and scholar, provided the devotional at our annual gathering of Presbyterian Seminary presidents and board chairs in Atlanta. Imam El-Amin read a passage from the Qu'ran: "The worst food is that which is taken from the poor."

I am sure that all of us in the room that day felt the resonance between the sacred text of Islam and our own Bible, from the thundering call of the Old Testament prophets to our Lord Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to the book of James. I was also reminded, however, of another witness to justice that day, and how this passage from the Qu'ran shares his gift for coining a memorable phrase. I am thinking, of course, of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Almost immediately upon returning from the meeting in Atlanta, I turned to James Washington's collection of Dr. King's writings, and sought out in that collection a sermon Dr. King preached at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 1968.