“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
Dr. Martin Luther King said that.
And so did Rev. Kirk Lyons of the St. James United Methodist Church, who urged attendees at Rogers Memorial Library’s annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast in Southampton to keep speaking up in the name of justice in their daily lives.
Frequently returning to the themes in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, Rev. Kirk reminded attendees of the call to live a purposeful life.
“Purpose is your birthright,” he said. “Unfortunately we still kill our prophets. The truth is we’re here today because they killed one of our prophets.”
“The greater challenge for a prophet is not merely speaking truth to power but the greater challenge is when they have to speak truth to the people,” he said. “It is in those twisted frowning contorted and confused faces where you find the deepest wells of discouragement.”
Rev. Lyons said each Martin Luther King Day also serves as a report card for how the United States is doing on racial issues.
He said the re-election of Barack Obama could be seen as an “A” for the country if it hadn’t “exposed a lot of the racial prejudice lurking in the shadows of the country.” He called for action on the pervasive blight in New Orleans nearly a decade after Hurricane Katrina, and against the misuse of funds that were supposed to go to our area to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.
He reminded the audience that, while there are massive calls to reign in assault rifles when white suburban children are killed, handguns are the primary cause of death for young African-Americans living in urban areas. He said many African-Americans are living in exclusive gated communities, for which you’d think our country would get an “A.” But those gated communities are jails and we get an “F.”
The audience got a good grade for effort, though, in singing along to the melody of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in a morning of good cheer and fellowship. Singer and pianist Sheree Elder of Westhampton Beach helped everyone along. Here’s her a capella rendition of “This is My Song:”