“When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you — a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant — then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” — Deuteronomy 6:10-12.
I am excited about American Heritage Celebrations. This month, I am particularly excited about the Martin Luther King Day celebration. I was very happy as our church made its way down the parade route and saw all of the well-wishers. My heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Alvin L. Jackson and his committee for a job well done.
In spite of my jubilation, I am troubled as I hear discussions suggesting that the time has come to move on from “these kind of celebrations.”
Some would argue that the Scripture tells us to forget those things behind us and press toward those things in front of us. To those I simply say, while we should not allow the things behind us to stop us from reaching for the things in front of us, we should never forget the road we have traveled. I would not dare say to the Irish-American forget St. Patrick’s Day and only celebrate Presidents Day, or to Jewish-American forget Hanukah and only celebrate Christmas, or to Arab-American forget Ramadan and only celebrate New Year’s Day. So why would I say to the African-African forget Juneteenth and only celebrate the Fourth of July? The various cultural celebrations in America allow us the opportunity to see and appreciate the diversity of America.
So it is “It is altogether fitting and proper” that we should remember Dr. Martin Luther King and all that his legacy means to America.
Today, we are engaged in political and ideological battles that try the soul of our great county. Subsequently, I believe it is even more important to take time to pray. So I pray, “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way; Thou who hast by Thy might, led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee. Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee. Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land.”
It also is important to reflect on who we are and why we are who we are. In the above Scripture, God reminds Israel that He was taking them to the Promised Land and life would be very different. God knew the human tendency to enjoy the blessing and forget the “blessor.” Israel is admonished to “be careful to remember” what God has done for them. Let us use our cultural celebrations to remember what God has done for America.
As we began a new year with all of our cultural celebrations, I am asking all Liberty Countains to celebrate our dream for “One America.” This year, let us celebrate Jehovah God and remember that it was He who brought us over “a way that with tears have been watered, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered” and rededicate ourselves to the proposition that America is one nation under God.
Scott is pastor of the Baconton Missionary Baptist Church and vice president of the United Ministerial Association.