Saint Martin of Birmingham

Luther Place Memorial Church is located at 1226 Vermont Ave. NW, on Thomas Circle. This church has previously been featured for its mural of St. Francis. Following are the words given by the Rev. Karen Brau during the dedication of this mural:

We welcome to the 14th Street side of the Sacred Commons at Luther Place Church The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., painted by Amanda Weber. We honor Dr. King, born January 15, 1929, as a preacher who led a movement to bring civil rights to African American people, fulfilling this nation’s vision that all people are created equal. Using the powerful biblical theme of God’s love that liberates and sets free all who are in bondage, Dr. King appealed to a deep place of faith that called forth holy imagination from all manner of people. Dr. King was a strong and prophetic voice for change, knowing that it would be non-violent organized effort that would transform the degrading laws and policies that kept some people partial citizens in our nation. We learned again about dreaming from Dr. King, and we learned to reach out across barriers that kept us apart in order to move together towards that holy mountain where all God’s children live in harmony. The task is still not complete, so we life up a Saint whose guidance we still require and who teaches us that we need each other.

On August 28, 1963, Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech just south of here in DC. In that speech he proclaimed passionately, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.”

St. Martin of Birmingham, you gave your life to a dream of reconciliation and peace, may we not endlessly defer that dream, instead may we keep marching towards it strengthened by love and sustained by hope.

St. Martin of Birmingham joins the St. Francis of Assisi Door on the Thomas Circle side of the Sacred Commons at Luther Place. Look for the 3rd in our door triptych on the Vermont Ave side of the Sacred Commons in Spring, 2011.

The Rev. Karen Brau
Senior Pastor
Luther Place Memorial Church,
January 15, 2011

13 Comment

  • Remember to ask, not what will happen to me, but what will happen to him, if I do not stop to help.

  • When it’s right, be maladjusted.

  • Guess PoP is pretending to be like a government employee today?

  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy

  • This is inspiring.

    On a separate note, I would like it if we could copy the mural at the Gallery Place Metro stop for the teenagers who were rabidly screaming at each other this weekend.

    Reconciliation and peace my young neighbors. Amen.

  • The negative peace that we have here in DC is so darkened more by the injustice that is a city authority that tolerates and enhances child gunslingers. What is the nonviolent way to find the love that will remove this intolerable violence upon our souls?

  • working-class hero and exemplary leader? yes. saint? no.

    mlk was an amazing man. he accomplished so much for our society and his legacy continues today. he was also a chronic cheater and a womanizer. it’s a fact. look it up. not a saint.

  • LOVE the Mural!
    And I would argue that MLK was a saint.
    In fact, we are all Saints!
    What and apt title for this mural.

  • One of the gifts of being Lutheran is a theology, or God talk, where Martin Luther describes Christians as “simultaneously saint and sinner.” (Simul iustus et Peccator) Luther has this understanding because he redefines “saint” as a forgiven sinner. Saints are not perfect people, because, if saints were just the perfect people, no one would be a saint! It’s our relationship with God and the gift of God’s grace that makes us forgiven saints. Martin Luther said, “Farewell to those who want an entirely pure and purified church. This is plainly wanting no church at all.”

    As a Lutheran pastor, I view Martin Luther King Jr. as one who rose in this mortal life to exemplary service in a time of struggle and collective change. Dr. King once said, “The cross is something that you bear and ultimately that you die on.” He walked in the way of the cross, and at Luther Place Church, we view that as the mark of a saint.

  • Or the cross could just be chopped into firewood or shredded for hamster litter – no need to bear or die on it. The whole cross motif is extremely limiting – and distracting. MLK wasn’t seeking crucifixion – he was seeking change – and he achieved it. Thousands of people were crucified on crosses back in the crucifying days – it was routine execution.

    We are not all saints – or “forgiven saints” – which – although I generally dig Luther – is a most ridiculous term.

  • The cross is mystifying to me sometimes, and that’s in part why I keep going back to it.

    MLK was seeking change, a kind of change that brings enormous anger from people and institutions — enough anger to get you killed. Why keep going? I re-listened today to the last speech MLK gave on April 3, 1968. My paraphrase is that he pronounced difficult days ahead, but that did not matter to him, for he had been to the Mountain Top, and he said he just wanted to do God’s will. I wonder who MLK met on that Mountain, and what he believed God’s will was in April, 1968.

    And a forgiven saint does sound ridiculous, and it becomes ridiculous when that gift of grace does not change your heart and your life.

  • I love Pr. Karen’s words. Her talk of the cross also mystifies me because of the way it transforms lives and inspires us to do justice.

    Having read and listened to many of Dr. King’s speeches, I know he hoped to bare the cross with his oppressed and beaten down brothers and sisters, like God bore the cross in human form for humankind.

    It was not death that was the last word, but resurrection, new and eternal life for all creation. So, we bare the cross, the burdens of the world’s injustices, because we can never separate ourselves from the sufferings of our fellow humans. At the same time we trust in the resurrection hope that God will bring new life and justice.

    The resurrection hope is life giving in my fight for justice. As a young adult at Luther Place I find this hope alive in this mural and my community of faith.

Comments are closed.