The MLK March – From Rev. David Wheeler

Dear First Congregational Church Family and Friends,
This week as I prepare for another sermon to share with you on Sunday, I am still relishing the experience I shared with a few other members of our congregation this past Monday when we marched together in OKC’s MLK, Jr. Parade. The streets were not as packed with onlookers as I had seen in years past. The weather was quite brisk while marching and downright cold walking back to our cars after the parade was over and some of us had eaten a meal. You might be wondering, “why are you still ‘relishing’ this marching experience on a Wednesday (as I write this note) when it was miserably cold and there was such a small crowd?”  I am so glad you asked!
For me, there was something deeply and profoundly spiritual about investing my physical body and energy in this whole experience. I was not merely explaining with my words how important I think it is that we be aware of racial tensions and justice-related concerns in our society; I was “doing” something about it. I was marching ALONGSIDE old and new friends. I was marching FOR a man I deeply admire (Dr. King). I was marching AGAINST hatred, bigotry, prejudice, and injustice. And, I was marching WITH many of the black lives that matter to God and therefore should matter to us. For me, this act was more than just symbolic; it was as real as real can get, for me. Though marching in this parade solved no problems immediately, it spiritually, emotionally, and physically reframed at the forefront of my mind the refreshing feeling of “doing” something that engages mind, soul, AND body.
With this parade having just happened on Monday, I am already thinking about another march on Saturday. “Has he lost his mind?” you might be thinking. There is a March for Women in OKC on Saturday. Unless I end up having to drive to Tulsa on family-related business, I will be there as well. Seeing my sisters in this life treated with equality, dignity, respect, and consideration is vitally important to me. I’ve preached about it, talked about it, written about it— but to date, I’ve never MARCHED about my feelings about Women’s Rights.
By nature, I’m not a very good protester. Marching FOR and marching or standing AGAINST things— this kind of marching calls me out of my comfort zone. But, do you know something? I plan to keep marching for the things that matter most. It engages my body as well as my spirit and gives me the kind of fellowship that is decidedly different from my preferred settings of the classroom and pulpit.
If you’ve been reluctant at times yourself to “march”— whether literally or simply “taking a stand”— you just might appreciate this Sunday’s sermon. We’ll look at one of the “reluctant marchers” from the Hebrew scriptures; Jonah. We’ll see why, even against his personal preferences, when he finally “marched” where he was supposed to “march,” that he had a transformative experience and even changed the lives of an entire community. What causes people like Jonah and me to “march?” It might be a little different for everyone. But Sunday’s message will take a look at some of the reasons why some of us are, “Marching For Change.”
Still marching in my heart,
Rev. David Wheeler