Reminders of Renewal

As Christians prepare to celebrate Easter, in the midst of this holy season for so many faith traditions, I return again to the Easter Sunday service Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached in April 1957 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, titled “Questions that Easter Answers.” Dr. King said one of these questions is “Is the universe on the side of the forces of justice and goodness?”:

“Sometimes it looks dark and sometimes people come to feel that the universe is on the other side, that the universe seems to say ‘Amen’ to the forces of injustice . . . Every now and then I feel like asking God, ‘Why is it that over so many centuries the forces of injustice have triumphed over the Negro and he has been forced to live under oppression and slavery and exploitation? Why is it, God? Why is it simply because some of your children ask to be treated as first-class human beings they are trampled over, their homes are bombed, their children are pushed from their classrooms, and sometimes little children are thrown in the deep waters of Mississippi?’ . . . I begin to despair sometimes, it seems that Good Friday has the throne. It seems that the forces of injustice reign supreme. But then in the midst of that something else comes to me. And I can hear something saying, ‘King, you are stopping at Good Friday, but don’t you know that Easter is coming?’”

Dr. King continued: “This is the meaning of Easter, it answers the profound question that we confront in Montgomery. And if we can just stand with it, if we can just live with Good Friday, things will be all right. For I know that Easter is coming and I can see it coming now. As I look over the world, as I look at America, I can see Easter coming in race relations. I can see it coming on every hand. I see it coming in Montgomery. I see it coming in Alabama. I see it coming in Mississippi. Sometimes it looks like it’s coming slow, but it’s still coming.”

Easter is still coming. Sometimes it may still feel as if the forces of injustice and those who are afraid of the light and the truth are winning for a day. But the message of this joyous season of renewal in many traditions, with family and community rituals centered on the promises of exodus, deliverance, new hope, and rebirth, is that darkness will not prevail. Death-dealing empires and injustice do not have the last word. Good will triumph over evil. A new day is still dawning.

I end with two prayers for renewal:

God, guide our faith that by it we might make our children and nation whole again.

God, help us to believe with every ounce of our being that we, with Your help, can save our children and make them well.

God, renew our spirits—Your spirit within us—and make us worthy carriers of Your message of love and hope and life in all we say and do this day and forever more.


God, please help us remember that all the darkness in the world cannot snuff out the light of one little candle. Help us to keep lighting our little candles until a mighty torch of justice sweeps our nation and the world.