A walk in the park is literally what I did recently – I went for a walk in the park. But I confess to you here that it wasn’t just any park and it wasn’t just any walk. For me and for those with me, it was a walk of faith, it was a walk for a very special and a very specific purpose. It was a walk in a very special and extraordinarily symbolic park.
We must have been an unexpected and inexplicable sight to anyone who was witness to our presence in the park that morning. As I have described us before, (post C.C. power walk redefined #78) I will again – nothing has changed. We look a lot like America and exactly like Revelation 7:9-10 which says,
“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ ”
On this particular morning, we were singing but we weren’t exactly wearing white robes. What were we wearing? – white t-shirts with a cross and the word peace written on the cross. We had come together in peace, we had come together with a purpose, we had come together to pray. We had come together to pray for peace.
We were gathered together at the Landmark for Peace, which is a memorial in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in our city. This truly was the most appropriate place for us to come together, as this landmark has a history and a story so relevant for today.
It was here in this park on April 4th, 1968 that Robert Kennedy was to give a campaign speech. But instead, Kennedy ended up announcing the assassination of Dr. King to the assembled crowd and making pleas to them for peace and racial reconciliation. So on that day of national shock and sadness, while other cities burned, Indianapolis remained peaceful.
Twenty-seven years later, on September 30, 1995 the sculpture/memorial that is the Landmark for Peace was dedicated in this park in memory of Kennedy’s speech here on the day of Dr. King’s death. This is particularly poignant as Kennedy himself would be assassinated just two months after Dr. King.
The memorial features the half figures of King and Kennedy reaching out to each other, arms and hands extended, from walls opposite each other, separated by a walkway. Their hands, reaching out, each to the other, reaching out in brotherhood, in unity – these two slain civil rights leaders, one black, one white, fighting together to demand that America live up to her promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
These men loved America. Instead of fighting each other, they were fighting together to make the United States a better place. They did not want to see America torn down. They wanted to see her continue to grow more fully into her promise, into the vision those who have fought and died over the years hold in their hearts of all she has already been for so many and all she will yet be for future generations.
So on this day, with our cities again on fire, it seemed this Landmark for Peace memorial was the perfect place for us to come to pray for peace. Indeed, just how significant and special this site and what it symbolizes are, was made clear just a few years ago. On April 4th, 2018, fifty years after King’s assassination and Kennedy’s speech, President Trump signed into law the Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site Act. This act designated the Landmark for Peace Memorial as the Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site.
This designation by President Trump, affirms to us that the story told by this memorial is not only meaningful to the people of our state but it is an important and necessary story to preserve for all Americans who want to understand the story and the history of our nation.
And so it happened on this day, that my walk in the park, our walk in the park, began and ended at this historic memorial, this Landmark for Peace. We were there on this quiet, overcast early morning in obedience to these words from 1 Timothy 2:1-4 & 8,
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. . . . I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.”
These are our marching orders and they are clear. For months we have been surrounded by anger and disputing everywhere we look. This has led to violence and destruction, pain and suffering surrounding and engulfing us as a country.
As Americans, we have always been there for each other. Whether tornadoes or hurricanes or blizzards or floods or fires, states have always sent power crews to restore downed lines, teams have shown up with food, water, clothes and other supplies from far away states. Individuals and churches have mobilized to provide shelter and assistance in times of trouble. Individual acts of kindness too numerous to take note of in the national discourse, have abounded and prevailed.
How short our collective memory is! How we long for peace in our day and in our daily lives! Psalm 34:14 tells us to,
“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
We are told to actively pursue peace. And so we came to pray for peace – God’s peace – peace in our own lives, peace in our families, peace in our neighborhoods, peace in our schools, peace in our city, peace in our state, peace in our country and peace in this world.
We are given instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:15, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” That’s pretty clear.
Then I am told, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your (my) hearts, since as members of one body you (I) were (was) called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
I am called to peace! I had better be more intentional about pursuing it then. Hebrews 12:14 tells me to, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
Jesus reassures me with these words from John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Romans 12 has much good advice about pursuing peace including, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. . . . Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud . . . Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
And so on that peaceful morning, in the park with the peace landmark, we walked through the park, praying peace for the people of our city and peace for the people of our nation. We will not stand silent while our country burns, watching our freedoms go up in flames. We will stand in the gap as God calls us to do, in prayer as intercessors, crying out for peace to the very Prince of Peace Himself.
“And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
A walk in the park and a prayer for peace. This is my prayer for you, dear readers.
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)
sincerely, Grace Day