- John Wesley
Today is Reformation Day. I get great joy out of wishing everyone I meet "Happy Reformation Day" every October 31st and telling them that this is my second favorite Holiday of the year. (My favorite being Resurrection Day. Now if I could just figure out how to rename "Christmas" with a word that Starts with an "R" and ends with an "tion" it would be a perfect top 3 list. Add a poem and it's a sermon outline. :-)
Of course, when people ask me what I'm talking about (which is what I'm fishing for) I joyfully tell them about Martin Luther, I pause the required beat for politeness, and then say, "No, not Martin Luther King, JR. I'm talking about the original "Martin Luther". And I'll act all offended that the guy who bore that name originally isn't getting his due.
Now in truth, I think it's pretty cool that a man who brought a different kind of reformation to our country was also named Martin Luther.
But did you know that wasn't his name originally? The man we know as "Martin Luther King, Jr." was born "Michael King, Jr." ON January 25, 1929. Little Michael was named after his father who was an influential black preacher. Read more about "Michael King, Sr."
In 1931, at the age of 32, Michael King, Sr. became the new Senior Pastor of Ebeneezer Baptist Church. After a trip to Germany, where he was inspired by the life and work of the original Martin Luther, he came back and changed his name to "Martin Luther King, Sr." and changed his son's name (then 5 years old) to "Martin Luther King, Jr."
HE CHANGED HIS NAME. As an adult. After he had been in ministry for years, and the lead pastor for 3, he changed his name. That's a big deal. Can you imagine doing that yourself?
And what a name he picked. What a legacy to live up to. By choosing that name he was saying something, both about what he wanted to become himself and what he wanted his son to do.
His ceiling became his son's floor.
His father pointed his son toward ministry and towards the struggle for civil rights. (For more detail on how the father inspired the son, read the first comment of this post.)
Wow. Martin Luther King Jr. lived up to the name of his father and their mutual namesake.
Our church is also changing it's name. As I look back through history, I am appreciating more and more name change is a significant tradition, both Biblical and Historical.
Our church name change has been a long time coming. It was the right thing to do. For a long time I've been dwelling on the old name and why we needed to leave it behind. Martin Luther King Senior and Junior remind me that it's time to look forward to the new name and what it means about who we are and who we are becoming.