Preacher John Hoffmeyer recalls Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision of love for enemies

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The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech are probably the most likely words of Dr. King’s to be recalled at his January 15 birthday and the January 20 Day of Service observed in his honor, noted the Rev. Dr. John Hoffmeyer during his chapel sermon at LTSP on King’s birthday.

The Rev. Dr. John Hoffmeyer“It is a great speech during a wonderful occasion in August of 1963, and it can’t be remembered too much,” said Hoffmeyer, the seminary’s Associate Professor of Systematic Theology. But Hoffmeyer said the civil rights leader said words far more uncomfortable to listeners in ensuing years. “One of his most important visions came from his preaching about loving our enemies,” Hoffmeyer said, citing verses, including the Beatitudes, from the Sixth Chapter of Luke. Hoffmeyer noted that King customarily preached on loving one’s enemies at least once a year, a theme that was a great challenge within the context of King’s civil rights ministry, the focus he chose to so effectively live out his baptismal vocation.

Hoffmeyer, citing remarks from Dr. King, said hating one’s enemies builds up hate. “Hate destroys the hater, while love transforms,” he said. “No good person is never bad, and no bad person is not (ever) good … Look for the image of God in every person. God loves our enemies. Loving our enemies conforms us to the ultimate reality of (God’s) universe.”

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