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I am always delighted by the thousands of events that will take place on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to mobilize citizens in giving back to the community through organized service projects. But if we are realistic most Americans will use it as a vacation day to kick back. If you have made no plans, here are three easy ways you can celebrate the day.
Reconciliation Lunch or Dinner
My Uncle M.L. is one of the world’s most famous advocates for peace and unity. Well, peace and unity should begin at home. If there are family members or friendships that struggle because of unforgiveness, use Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as an opportunity to mend broken fences. Invite friends and family for a Martin Luther King Day peace lunch or dinner.
Over the years, one of the most important lessons that I learned from my father the great civil rights leader A.D. King and my mother, Naomi King, a living legend of civil rights and peace is the power of forgiveness. Learning to offer and accept grace is one of the most difficult yet important things that we will ever do.
You may be the one in need of forgiveness or the one who needs to offer forgiveness. What is clear throughout God’s word is a consistent mandate to forgive others as Christ forgave us.
This meal does not have to be extravagant. The event itself is the blessing. I will recommend for dessert my uncles favorite, pecan pie.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Know thy Neighbor
My second encouragement to those who have not made plans to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is to take one small step close to home by getting to know your neighbor. I am surprised by the number of people who do not know their neighbors. According to a study by Pew Research Center only 57% of Americans acknowledge being acquainted with only a few or none of their neighbors. Among those between 30 to 49 that number increases to 72% and over 18- to 29-year-olds it skyrockets to 78%. Fifty-eight percent say they know their neighbors but admit to not engaging in conversations or spending time socializing with them.
Loving your neighbor is the second commandment. How can you truly love your neighbor, if you don’t even know them. Use Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as an opportunity to get to know your neighbor. Take an MLK Gift bag or basket to introduce yourself. It’s as easy as one, two, three. Step number one fill the gift bag with tasty winter treats and quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. Step number two, knock on your neighbors’ door. Step number three introduce yourself, say Happy MLK Day and build community.
There are benefits to knowing your neighbor that go beyond just feeling good. When we know our neighbors, our communities are safer.
Study the Life
Over the next several days there will be an uptick in quotes from my Uncle M.L. But few of those creating quotes for social media have taken time to study his life and his teaching. There is great wisdom for us all in his writings. If you have made no MLK Day plans, one life enriching activity that you can do is take time to read Letter from Birmingham Jail. The letter is linked here.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was a long fought national holiday. Even if you have no official event to attend, I encourage you not to let the day slip away without being intentional about creating your own personal celebration.