The Baptism of John

Baptism is an initiation into the struggle. Anyone who has ever tried to live in the direction of God’s kingdom knows what a struggle that is. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist who perhaps more than anyone in recent memory understood both the spiritual and moral implications of John’s baptism. It was his gift, his calling to invite others into the struggle for the kingdom. He even had the name for it. Not until this week did I know that Martin Luther wasn’t King’s original name. When he was born, he was named after his dad, Michael. But in 1934, the Rev. Michael King, Sr., went on a trip to Rome, Tunisia, Egypt, the Holy Land and ended up in Berlin to attend a World Baptist Alliance convention. Adolf Hitler had just become Chancellor of Germany, and the Baptists who gathered in the homeland of Martin Luther responded by issuing a declaration, denouncing “all racial animosity, and every form of oppression or unfair discrimination toward the Jews, toward coloured people, or toward subject races in any part of the world.” Michael King, Sr. came home a changed man and so he changed his name to Martin Luther King and gave that name to his son as well. [Deneen L. Brown for The Washington Post, Jan. 15, 2019]

Luke 3:7-17, 21-22