“Tell them about the dream!”

It was one of the biggest speeches of his career, and he knew it. MLK Jr. was already widely recognized as the spiritual leader of the American civil rights movement. The podium set up in front of the Lincoln Memorial would be his biggest pulpit ever. The eyes of the nation were on the keynote speaker.
Dr. King had prepared his text carefully. He’d asked for suggestions from his trusted advisers. He’d gone through several handwritten drafts – unusual for him, because he rarely used speechwriters and often spoke extemporaneously. Originally his title had been “Normalcy, Never Again” – but, by the time he’d finished multiple edits, the papers he clutched in his hand were still not what he wanted them to be.
The most famous line from the speech – “I have a dream” – wasn’t written on paper. That ringing refrain had been a feature of speeches he’d delivered in other places. Mahalia Jackson was sitting behind Dr. King as he struggled to find words to connect to the audience. “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” she called to him. He heard her. He told them about the dream.
Dr. King’s phrase, “I have a dream,” has truly gone down in history. The most famous of those improvised lines is this: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
If you have any doubt that this was a deeply religious address (a sermon, really) – or that the civil rights movement was a deeply Christian movement – then just listen to where Dr. King went, a few lines later:  “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
Words of the prophet Isaiah, quoted by the most significant Christian prophet of that time. Dr. King continued: “This is our hope…With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
What gives you hope? What lifts your spirit? How is God speaking through you? What makes you come alive? We will be talking about things like this at The Palms this year. Our varied answers will weave together to provide a place where the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.
Shalom, Paul