(your name here) go down to Egypt

a personal reflection on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 18, 2016

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The angel of the Lord appeared to (Moses) in a flame of fire from a bush…that was blazing, yet not consumed…God called, “Moses, Moses!” He said, “Here I am.” (God) said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham…Isaac, and…Jacob…I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings and I have come down to deliver them…So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”[1]

Martin stood in the line and light of Moses, taking up the mantle of the ministry of leading people (some would say Black – but, I believe, all – Americans) out of the bondage of discriminatory systems and structures. Today, Martin, assassinated on April 4, 1968, has been gone nearly 50 years. Moses, longer still. Yet their labors, the labor of lifting up the oppressed remains, in this day and time, sadly and surely necessary.

As I reflect on the lives and legacies of Moses and Martin, believing their labors to be fitting for all good-willed folk, I must speak for myself within the character of my chosen identity as a Christian and, thus, within the context of my community, the church.

The church is no sentimental memorial society that gathers to commemorate a dear, dead leader. The church, Jesus’ people, comes together, is together in response to his command, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

The church gathers to remember his sacrifice; his body broken, his blood shed on the cross of his crucifixion…

To remember that God sent him to be the last sacrifice, the last victim…

To remember that the breaking of the bread and sharing the cup is “not for solace only, but for strength”[2]

To remember that in the strength derived from partaking of spiritual food, Jesus’ people are to go down to Egypt – a metaphor for anywhere and everywhere in a world that, failing to understand the meaning of the cross, continues to seek and make sacrificial victims – and to labor so that no one of any class or color, tribe or clan, gender or sexual orientation, racial or ethnic origin will be victimized, crucified on the twin Calvary crosses of phobia and prejudice.

This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and every day, I hear the vox Deus, the voice of God, saying, singing, “Go down, Paul, go down (your name here). ‘Way down in Egypt land. Tell ole Pharaoh, “Let my people go!”

 

Photograph: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, Washington, DC, January 14, 2012

Footnotes:

[1]Exodus 3.2, 4, 6a, 7-8a, 10, abridged and paraphrased

[2] Eucharistic Prayer C, The Book of Common Prayer, page 372

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2 thoughts on “(your name here) go down to Egypt

  1. Thank you Paul for this beautiful reflection and tribute on this Martin Luther King day! We sure have a long way to go down to the metaphorical Egypt.Still so much work to do!! So many people in this Country and in the World who are suffering injustices that maybe even Martin hadn’t imagined. Thank you for your call to action, because I plan to “soldier on” and continue to labor for and with those against who continue to be discriminated against. I wish we could say “Free at last” but we still aren’t there yet, though I’ll forever be grateful for the amazing work and ultimate sacrifice Dr. King made for us. I wonder if we will ever be able to say “free at last” in my lifetime…

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    • I don’t know, my dear sister, about our being able to sing “free at last” in our lifetimes. It seems each era produces another/new group of the oppressed. Hence, Moses’ and Martin’s labors need continue by those able and willing to take up their mantles of ministry. Perhaps that’s a point. As Jesus said to his disciples, “the poor will always be with you,” meaning, I believe, service to the poor is a constant need, then, so, too, the labor of lifting the burdens of the oppressed.

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