A couple weekends ago at the Food Drop, Mayor Rea pulled me aside to inform me that he had nominated me for the Martin Luther King Drum Major award. This award, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Foundation, City of South Bend, City of Mishawaka, and the Chamber of Commerce, is given to six people each year from Michiana who are recognized for their dedication to community service.
The Drum Major award was inspired by Dr King's speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church on February 4th, 1968
"Every now and then I think about my own death, and I think about my own funeral...I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long...Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize...Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards...I'd like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life to serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to love somebody...Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was drum major for peace. That I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter...I just want to leave a committed life behind."
Here's what I said this morning:
On behalf of Granger Community Church, I am privileged beyond words to receive this great honor that carries the name of Dr King. He is one of the brightest lights in our country’s history. On this day, we all find our lives elevated by his great faith, his great work and his great vision. Especially in light of tomorrow’s inauguration, it is right for us to pause and recognize what a an emotionally powerful and historic moment this is. One that goes beyond the ordinary politics that we are all accustomed to. In large part due to legacy of Dr King, the whole world will now see an idea of American Leadership that reaches beyond white males. Tomorrow, the whole world will see the American ideal of racial equality realized in a whole new way.
Regarding the Drum Major award, I stand here merely as a representative of the people of Granger Community Church. As is true of any great endeavor, the work that Mayor Rea described as our gift to this community extends so far beyond the gifts and talents and devotion of any one person. If it weren’t for the willing hearts and hands of the people called Granger Community Church, if it weren’t for the support and brilliant leadership of our Senior Pastor Mark Beeson, a much smaller story would have been told this morning.
On behalf of Granger Community Church, I want to say, it is our commitment to continue the great work of service that Dr King has called all of us to. These are his words..
“.. Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness… by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”
To God be the glory! If it weren't for Jesus, I would still be stuck on the smallest thing in the world: self.
PHOTOS: R Mark Beeson (My Favorite Photographer)