“We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt…”
I watched the speech again this morning. Then, I set it up on the breakfast table so my kids could watch it too.
John Ortberg alerted me to a shift that happens in the speech about half-way through. At the 5:20 mark, Dr. King quotes the prophet Amos and says
“No, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
The crowd applauds, Dr. King ‘concludes’ and says,
‘let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends.’
Then something happens. In Taylor Branch’s astounding 3 volume biography, he says that Mahalia Jackson, who was standing off-camera calls out to Dr. King and says, ‘tell them about the dream… Tell them about the dream…’
Something happens at 5:45. Dr. King shifts. His whole posture changes. For the first 5 minutes he has been glancing at his notes. His words are well-prepared.
But now he looks up and he doesn’t look at his notes again. He looks at the people. This is not ‘off-the-cuff’. This is from the heart. It inspires us. It gives us hope.
Sometimes in a sermon, there is a moment when the Holy Spirit seems to take over. To be honest, I hope it happens every time. I always walk into ‘the pulpit’ with every word I want to say carefully printed on 5 sheets of paper. I am on ‘over-planner’. I’ve done my homework, but I pray that at some point, the Holy Spirit would empower my words and connect them to the hearts of the people. I might say all the words that I planned or the Holy Spirit might have a few that I was not expecting.
I believe the Holy Spirit took over when Dr. King started talking about the dream. Dr. King had a split second choice– do I let them in to my heart? do I tell them about the dream? Obviously he had been dreaming it for a while, but in about 5 minutes he let a generation of people peer into his soul. It wasn’t ‘prepared’ but he had been thinking about it for a lifetime. The Holy Spirit took over.
Where is God whispering to you, ‘Tell them about the dream…”?
Who needs to hear it?