In 1963, with President Lincoln's effigy behind him and his words in mind, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared,
"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.  It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity."
Within King's beautiful and vividly expressive words, we see through our mind's eye, "a great beacon light of hope."  Dr. King thought of the sixteenth president's signing of that great document of freedom as a sign of better days to come. 

Certainly things improved as our nation outlawed slavery.  However, as King said in the opening words of the very next sentence that followed those quoted above,

"But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free."
Again, certainly things have improved since 1963; yet now over half a century later, things are not fully as they should be.

As I ponder that reality, I notice a pattern best articulated by the Teacher, son of David.

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)
Ever since Adam passed the buck to Eve and blamed God for putting her "here with me," human relationships have displayed the marks of pain and brokenness.  
  • Cain kills Abel. 
  • Jacob tricks Esau.
  • Saul hunts David. 
  • Martha grows bitter toward Mary. 
  • Paul refuses to play in the same sandbox as John Mark. 
  • A husband ceases listening to his wife. 
  • A wife ridicules her husband. 
  • A father provokes his son. 
  • A mother verbally abuses her daughter. 
  • A person of one race disregards the value of one of a different race. 
  • A person is judged by the color of his/her skin rather than by the content of his/her character.
Human relationships display marks of pain and brokenness.  Yet there is a great beacon light of hope much brighter than a document bearing the pen marks of a president.  It is the great beacon light of hope whose name is Jesus who bears the marks of pain and brokenness.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
John 20:19-20 (NIV)
Jesus showed them the scars in His hands and side made by the nails and spear; yet even more so, inflicted upon Him because of the sins of humanity which cause such pain and brokenness.  Yet, one of the great victories of the cross was the defeat of separation. 
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.
Ephesians 2:14 (NLT)
Yesterday was a day our nation dedicates to the impactful efforts of Dr. King - a man who stood up to and spoke against walls of hostility.  Let us do the same.  Let us remember to break down barriers to healthy human relationships as we live our lives in the shadow of Lincoln's monument and Jesus' cross.


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