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Monday, January 19, 2015

MLK: Dream on Dreamer

Pastor Karen Cook
The following is adapted from a sermon in honor of  the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr by Rev. Karen Cook, who serves at the UM Church for All People. As good as it is in print, you'll just have to imagine it preached (PREACHED!) by Rev. Cook as you read. 

He was one of the youngest of Jacob’s twelve sons, Joseph the dreamer.  You don’t have to respond but just think on these questions.  How many of you dream?  What will it take for us to just let go and dream?  Why do dreams puzzle us?  What make a dream a good dream or a bad dream?  

Dream on Dreamer.   

Joseph had these two dreams and he made the mistake of sharing these dreams with his brothers. He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” (Genesis 37:6-7)

I didn’t have brothers or sisters but I can just image with my minds eye some jealousy was rearing its ugly head. How dare Joseph have the audacity share this dream with his brothers, his half brothers at that.  Before Joseph’s brothers could recover from the shock of his first dream he told them about the second dream.  

He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Gen. 37:9) Not only did the brothers react but daddy had something to say this time.  “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?”  (Gen. 37:10) 

Dream on Dreamer.

MLK Gives a speech, arm outstretched
It was on a hot Wednesday, August 28, 1963, that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed for all American and all of the world to hear: 
"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood... 
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
Dream on Dreamer.

Beloved if God has given you a dream, rumors can’t kill it. Dream on. Gossip can’t silence it. Dream on. Your past can’t abort it. Dream on dreamer, dream on.

Let me pause here for just a moment. I know that some of us will celebrate this day by attending the nations largest breakfast honoring the rich legacy of Dr. King.  Some of us will be catching up on work left undone around the house.  Some of us will be hitting the malls taking advantage of the many sales that happen on this day.  Some of us will be worrying about how we will pay that next bill, feed our family, worry about a roof over our heads.

MLK Day of Service: A Day On, Not a Day Off!However you chose to spend the 3rd Monday in January, I want to invite you to reflect on the dream that God gave you.  But you say "preacher, God hasn’t given me a dream"—beloved if you are here today, God has given you a dream.  Sometimes our dreams are blocked, blocked by our past a past that covered up the dream.  Blocked by substance abuse, that clouds the dream.  Blocked by insecurities that nullifies the dream.  

Blocked by jealously that distorts the dream.  Blocked by pettiness, backbiting, unforgiveness, disobedience, and hatefulness, beloved all of that defers the dream.  

Dream on Dreamer.  

Joseph’s half brother Reuben said, “let’ not kill him; let’s defer him.” Other brothers said, “Let’s sell him into slavery, and file him away in that part of the memory bank labeled deferred and forgotten.  
And we will see what will become of his dreams.”

Joseph’s brothers made a big mistake.  

Joseph tells his brothers about his dreamsThey didn’t know that the Dream-Giver was using what they meant for evil would be used to bring about the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream. They didn’t know that God was using the evil to fortify Joseph and his faith for that moment when Joseph’s own brothers would come to his doorstep begging for bread.  

Because Joseph waited on God, he had been allowed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Because he had trusted the God who gave him this dream; that same God had taken those same dreams that people said couldn’t and wouldn’t never be; and brought them to fulfillment.  That same God had taken those same dreams that folk said he was uppity for dreaming and had no right to dream and turned them into living realities.  I can see Joseph as he looked at his brothers and said, 
“You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

What happens when a dreamer is attacked and his or her dream deferred?  I’ll tell you what happens. The same God who gave the dream uses those hardships, uses the suffering, uses the pain, uses the obstacles which were meant to destroy God’s servants.  Hear this beloved, God will use it as a means to fortify and strengthen the dreamer.  Beloved, I know it may not feel like it now but hold on dreamer, hold on.

The bible says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)

Complentative MLKHis body could be killed but neither Dr. King nor the dream itself could be destroyed because Dr. King had learned to trust the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the God of Joseph, the God of his mother and father, the God who had set his soul on fire and told him, “I have set thee a watchman on the wall” (Ezekiel 3:17)

Dr. King learned that in all things God’s grace is still sufficient and God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. (Hebrews 11:34)

Dr. King knew that no matter what people said about him or did to him he could not be discredited with God, who had put on his back the multicolored robe of mercy, redemption, salvation, love, and forgiveness which had been purchased by the blood of Jesus on Calvary’s tree.

What happens when the dreamer is attacked and his or her dream deferred?  If you trust God, he will let you see the fulfillment of your dreams.

Beloved, if God has shown you a book and it says authored by________, yet you don’t have a computer or a laptop, or an iPad, baby write that thing out long hand. 

Dream on Dreamer.

If God has put a song in your heart and a melody in your soul, yet you can’t play a lick, baby write down those words and keep humming that melody.  

Dream on Dreamer.

If you are the best cook this side of Parsons Ave. and you see yourself in your own restaurant, baby keep on cooking.  

Dream on Dreamer.

If God has called you to teach, yet you don’t have a degree don’t let that stop you, teach baby teach. Teach your children, teach your grandchildren, teach in Sunday School, teach a bible study. 

Dream on Dreamer.

There maybe one here today, your dream has been laying dormant for many years. If that is you, today starts your journey of fulfilling your dream. I need somebody to shout…I’m getting my dream back!

Dream on Dreamer!


  1. I can hear the words resonating - "Dream on Dreamer!", and I'll hold onto those words.

  2. thank's nice info

  3. That was an awful long way to say you can't answer my question. And I don't know why. Why can't we have a dialog and you interact with me about this? Why are you making it about race when I want to make it about information?

    So much of what you say here is misunderstanding of my comment or flat out misguided thinking.

    I didn't imply a falsehood was true. It is true, isn't it, that there are no riots over black on black homicide like there was over Ferguson? If you have evidence that there riots happened, please let me know. I would like to know it. A simple link to a few riots is all you need to do to show my question is malformed. Linking a to comic talking about a summit led by Al Sharpton is not the same thing.

    You talk about prejudice being prejudging. That's incorrect. Prejudice is a "preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience" (Oxford English Dictionary). But the truth is that I didn't prejudge anyone. I stated something that appears to be true based on what I know (and furthered by the fact that you haven't offered anything to the contrary) and asked why it was so. BTW, noted black scholar Thomas Sowell agrees with me on this. It's worth considering why.

    More ironically, you talk about prejudice and me judging a whole group of people and then talk about when "yall riot over sports events." But the truth is that very few people riot over sports events and they are typically mixed crowds. So you do the very thing you say I did (which in fact I didn't do).

    You asked where the riots were over Sandy Hook. To my knowledge there were none. But that wasn't the issue. You also talk about wars, which also isn't the issue. All of these things distract from a very serious conversation.

    You want to me watch Jon Stewart and his response to Fox. I don't watch Fox News so I don't know what they said. Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a serious commentator or analyst. It is a sad state on public discourse when Jon Stewart is considered a part of a serious conversation.

    Yet I watched him for a bit, particularly the part at 3:15 that you recommended. Thank you for that. It leads me to repeat my question: Why aren't there riots about black on black homicide? I didn't ask about summits (which he acknowledges don't work ... I say because they don't address the real problem). I think my question is actually an easy one to answer, but I was curious to measure my response against yours.

    My response to my own question is that there aren't riots like Ferguson over black on black homicide because it typically isn't perceived as a part of the legacy of racial injustice and power.

    You talk about "some" vs. the "majority." I didn't say anything about the majority of blacks in any sense. You simply made that up. I think the rioters are a very few people. I don't think it is many and I don't think they are representative of the black community as a whole.

    I do agree race is a social construct. There is one race ... the human race. (I don't think I am a genetic offspring of black people however.) We all descend from one man and one woman are all made in the image of God.

    In the end, I posted hoping for a good exchange on some important issues. I am sad that no one else wanted to contribute.


  5. I can answer your question pretty simply (though I believe you did miss some of the major point in this article, the video and in Sean's comments).

    Why do Blacks not protest Black on Black crime? First of all, you ARE assuming that this has never happened, so you are misinformed: The Million Man March, The Million Youth Movement, Black Love Day, and these are just off the top of my head. I am not an expert in Black unity movements or marches (just as I'm sure most non-Blacks would never have to "prove" why they don't do this in that in their community). But there you go...

    But the more important answer is this: Black people are not enraged because a White person did the crime. THIS is the fallacy. Blacks (AND non-Blacks) are enraged because HISTORICALLY non-Blacks committing a crimes against Blacks are NOT met with justice. HISTORICALLY, we have seen in the criminal justice system that Blacks (and Latinos) get harsher sentences than their white counterparts (even for non-violent crimes). So when you add the extra "bonus" of as you said "a white police officer killing a young black man" (but forgot to add KEY POINT--> "and barely getting a slap on the wrist!"). THIS is the root of the outrage.

    I'm sorry but when this isn't obvious, it is disappointing. It's just one more instance of the person being opprossed (or hell MURDERED) having to "prove" why they feel the way they do when justice isn't on their side.

    Furthermore, when issues involving the police (regardless of the race of the officer) using brute force against Blacks are met with only a slap on the wrist it is evident that the system is flawed. It has been evident for years, and it is sad for many and that is why you see righteous anger.

    Or to put it plainly when a Black person kills (or allegedly) another Black person (which I have PERSONALLY been to rallies and vigils for Blacks that were killed by other Blacks...because violence sucks period. WE know this, maybe others don't think we do, but we do. To suggest otherwise IS insulting) they are arrested and sentenced, many times without due process.

    However, IF the perpetrator is White, affluent, part of the police force (or pick one) MANY times whether it is assault or murder the case is not handled as such. THIS is the CRIME, THIS is the reason for anger.

    This is a DEATH on top of a DEATH, a life taken, and forgotten...and many times, without justice provided. Who wouldn't be angry at a system that allows this (regardless of their race)?

    So I hope you get it now, but if you don't there's plenty of research that can be done on your part if you really don't understand any of this. If you still have the same question...I'd assume it's because you've already chosen your answer.

  6. I'm just seeing some of your other comments. You said "I think the rioters are a very few people. I don't think it is many and I
    don't think they are representative of the black community as a whole."

    So why is the question about Blacks rioting "Black on Black" crime an issue for you? Why is this the question of so many. It's not cool, because whether you know it or not it is a loaded question (at least that is how it is perceived for good reason).

    In another comment you said it isn't about race. The thing is these issues DO unfortunately have racial undertones (hell racial "overtones" lol) for the reasons I stated in my other comment to you, and in the Jon Stewart video, etc. That's the truth of the matter.

    I have NEVER rioted in my life, and I do not know anyone personally who has. I have however been saddened that there's often more focus on that, and "why are they mad" type rhetoric than the actual criminal issue of the way "justice" is viewed in the country because of race, AND class, and gender, etc.

    Sean- that replied to your comments before made some really good points (as I believe I did) and that was before I even realized that you were super focused on the riots. Which you even stated that most Black people do not do anyway. So I guess our outraged is the issue and not the ROOT of the issue at hand which is injustice in the criminal JUSTICE system based on racial inequalities.

    By the way, my father was a cop for 20 years and my brother is a lawyer I KNOW. I also studied social work law in school. I'm not one sided or simply just "angry" at all law enforcement, etc. But like my father, and my brother I am angry and saddened when I see Black lives treated with disregard by the people that should be protecting us all.

  7. Not sure why my comments were deleted.

  8. Sorry! I thought I approved them last week. Not sure why it didn't go through. Do let me know if they are still missing.

  9. You did approve them, but then they were missing. It's okay, I know stuff happens :) Thanks for re-posting them.

  10. Yikes! Bizzar. I'll try to monitor it to make sure they stay up this time. My apologies if I messed it up somehow on my end. #TechFail

  11. Thanks for that. It's not really helpful because it doesn't address real issues. We are seeing it again in Baltimore. I get it far better than you suspect, and probably far better than you get it, simply by virtue of distance and objectivity. I have done the research. I have read the reports and studies. I am a minority in my community. I talk to people around here. I watch and ask questions and listen. So I know far better than you think I know.

    The question about black on black crime is a simple one and it was raised by a black man. Don't blame me for that. A great many can see it. The question is, why don't all?

    There are many poor and impoverished neighborhoods where there is systemic injustice in this country and around the world. But you don't see these riots there. You know why? Because these riots aren't about poverty and injustice. Look a little deeper. Get past the popular narrative.

  12. I assumed your position based on your repeated questions regarding "Black on Black crime" and rioting by Blacks in response to injustice. Your position (in my opinion) is passive aggressive. You didn't have a question or genuine curiosity because your question has been answered several times. You have your mind made up, and that is fine, but just say that. No need for fake concern.

    Maybe my assumption is wrong, that's fine. But your "questions" are based on assumptions so I guess it's all the same. Furthermore, your assumption is that I lack objectivity because of my race which couldn't be further from the truth. You're not the only one that has done research, just so you know (undergrad, grad, formerly, personally, very well read, etc. etc.). I'm also well aware of researcher bias by the way...I have also lived, traveled in work in various environments and you would be very surprised about my views. So having an emotional response to the issue does not make me any less informed. I'm passionate about quite a few issues (regarding people that look like me, and those that do not).

    You posed a "question" so that is what I'm addressing. But just as I do not know you, you do not know me. That much we can agree on...

    To be very clear I do NOT agree with riots. I do NOT agree with violence, and I do NOT believe in the narrative that Blacks are only angry when a white person kills a Black person (as I stated quite clearly as to why this is a fallacy above). If that was the case, then this country would have been burned down a long time ago. (<-Yes, that's hyperbole, but you get my point).

    Also, your point about their not being any uprisings around the world is just misinformed, so I won't begin to get into that. Maybe you are in agreement with those protests, but that doesn't change that fact that Black Americans (a small percentage) certainly do not have monopoly on protests, riots, etc.

    What I don't agree with is the narrative becoming, "Well why don't Blacks do this or that..." When you said yourself MOST Black people are not rioting and I will add MOST people probably do not agree with rioting. The people that are making this the bigger issue than the injustice of police officers getting away with killing Blacks (or anyone) without proper cause is dangerous and ignorant.

    You came to a seemingly well researched and articulated post about the fallacy of Black on Black crime to state an opinion (really) in the form of a question is where the problem lies. Not because we're two people disagreeing (at least on one point) or that I'm right or you're wrong (vice verse) but it is this type of thinking that allows for people (yes, even other Blacks- by the way referencing Black conservatives does not make the point less misinformed) to make the attempt to shift focus any less distasteful.

    I am a person that believes in justice. I hope you do too...peace and justice, that should be the concern. (I'd say to everyone so worried about "Black on Black" crime - Why "worry", Blacks that do commit crimes get arrested at higher rates, and with harsher, yeah). Sure, I'm being facetious here but it's the truth. You'll probably say that isn't your point. Fine. But everyone that's Black isn't for Black people (being treated equal and just), some are just pandering to the majority no matter how they present their "facts".

    At the end of the day, you have your opinion, and based on this lengthy exchange it probably isn't changing...just as mine surely isn't. That's okay. I will continue to care about issues that concern oppressed people, no matter their race. Hope you do the well.

  13. ...and because I just hate the term "Black on Black" crime, not just because I'm Black but because it just sounds dumb, implies these crimes are motivated by race, and at the end of the day just inherently racist (no matter who says it).

    "In this regard, black criminals are not particularly different. America
    is very segregated, and its criminality conforms to that fact. So the
    victims of most crimes are the same race as those who commit them...A more honest term than
    “black-on-black crime” would be, simply, “crime.” -Gary Younge (Full article here:

    In other words, no one says White on White crime. Hardly ever, really. Just because you seem sensible (us disagreeing doesn't change that), just think about the wording. Feel how you feel, but consider adjusting the language.

    Okay, just food for thought :) Peace


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