Through the grace of God, transformed lives are possible

Rev. Stephen Nagler

EVANS MILLS — One of our country’s national holidays took place Monday when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was observed.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who championed, unlike any other, the cause of civil rights and racial equality. During his time, he became the moral conscience of our nation in so many ways. A prolific speaker, a gifted and learned preacher and pastor, he on numerous occasions helped present to the public mind a vision of how life should be in America.

Perhaps Rev. King is best known by many people for his famous “I Have A Dream” speech given in 1963 before 250,000 or more people during the prodigious march and gathering in Washington. His speech painted the picture of the dream he had for America and the hope that racial inequality and segregation would come to an end.

Rev. King did not live long enough to have that dream realized, but he never gave up the hope that one day it would come to pass. His vision for our nation was always greater than and beyond himself. His unwavering trust in God’s word became the anchor and strength of his life.

In light of remembering his legacy, I would like to share excerpts from one of his sermons titled “Shattered Dreams”:

“One of the most agonizing problems within our human experience is that few, if any, of us live to see our fondest hopes fulfilled. The hopes of our childhood and the promises of our mature years are unfinished symphonies. In a famous painting, George Frederic Watts portrays hope as a tranquil figure who, seated atop our planet, her head sadly bowed, plucks a single unbroken harp string. Is there any one of us who has not faced the agony of blasted hopes and shattered dreams?

“Our capacity to deal creatively with shattered dreams is ultimately determined by our faith in God. Genuine faith imbues us with the conviction that beyond time is a divine Spirit and beyond life is Life. However dismal and catastrophic may be the present circumstance, we know we are not alone, for God dwells with us in life’s most confining and oppressive cells. And even if we die without receiving the earthly promise, he shall lead us down that mysterious road called death and at last to that indescribable city he has prepared for us. His creative power is not exhausted by this earthly life, nor is his majestic love locked within the limited walls of time and space. Would not this be a strangely irrational universe if God did not ultimately join virtue and fulfillment, and an absurdly meaningless universe if death were a blind alley leading the human race into a state of nothingness? God through Christ has taken the sting from death by freeing us from its dominion. Our earthly life is a prelude to a glorious new awakening, and death is an open door that leads us into life eternal.

“The Christian faith makes it possible for us nobly to accept that which cannot be changed, to meet disappointments and sorrow with an inner poise, and to absorb the most intense pain without abandoning our sense of hope, for we know, as Paul testified, in life or in death, ‘that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.’”

May these words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have an impact on your dreams for our nation and helped place your trust in Almighty God for the rest of your days.

The Rev. Steve Nagler of Evans Mills is a chaplain at Cape Vincent Correctional Facility. An ordained minister with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, he previously served as a chaplain in U.S. Army from 1985 to 2005.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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(2) comments


He knew he was going to be assassinated and chose to go on as if everything was normal. He should have laid low and played a guidance role. Instead he chose to be a martyr. A martyr wasn't needed and served no purpose. Such an original in so many ways, and then he fell into trap of trying to inappropriately follow someone else's path.


Nobody should say that Steven in Acts 7 should have run away - or Jesus should have run away. Christians are to trust in God and then God can our lives to his end. "If God is for us, who can stand against us?" To a Christian "death has no sting." To die for Christ is gain ... He died for us, so we can now live for him.

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