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After Christmas, What?

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: December 28, 1952

Location: Atlanta, Ga. ?

Genre: Sermon

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Career in Ministry


During his holiday break from graduate school, King delivered a version of the following handwritten sermon outline at Ebenezer.1 He asks,"Will Christmas mean just another item in our social calendar or will it mean a new life and new attitudes resulting from our encounter with Christ."

Luke 2:28.2

Introduction: For the past few days we have made our symbolic journies and pilgrimages to Bethlehem. We have symbolically knelt before the infant Jesus at his manger. There we have beheld him in all of his grandeur and glory. And In the midst of this sublime experience we have sung melodious [tunes?] that have shaken the very fiber of our soul reached high heaven. Now as must make [our way?] back to our various homes we leave Bethlehem and make our way back to our various homes the question poses itself, What did we gain? What is the value of our meeting with Christ? What is Christmas going to do for us in terms of chanced attitudes and better social conditions? Will Christmas mean just another item in our social calendar or will it mean a new life and new attitudes resulting from our encounter with Christ. After we have sung "[Joy?] to the World" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem, [remainder missing] What then? 3 After we have exclaimed "Peace On earth [remainder missing] good will toward men," What then? 4 Will we go back [remainder missing] home with our same old ways and our same [remainder missing] thought? Or will or lives and thoughts be [remainder missing] transformed that men will be able to [recognize?] [remainder missing] that we have been with Christ? 5 The test that [remainder missing] be the real test. The test of th value of Christmas [remainder missing] you will not be in terms of how many carol [you?] [remainder missing] have sung or how many eloquent [phrases] words [you?] [remainder missing] repeated. Text

  1. You must go away with the conviction that [remainder missing] is near. The men who behell Christ in the manger [remainder missing] those who later encounted him were convinced that [remainder missing] brought God nearer to earth.

    • (1) He represented a bit of [remainder missing] forth into time

    • (2.) The Christlikeness of God

    • (3) Jesus as the [supreme?] [remainder missing] of God

    • (4) Christianity has always insisted that God is [remainder missing] and concerned.

    • (5) Aristotle God 6

    • (6) There are times [remainder missing] we doubt the [concern?] about God

    • (7) Christmas and [remainder missing] coming of Christ should dispel all our [remainder missing] No matter where I go God’s love is there [remainder missing]

  2. We should go away with the conviction that Christ is the revelation of what man ought to be. Jesus reveald not only what God is but what man ought to be.

    1. The gap between what we actually are and what we ought to be

    2. Christ stand in judgment upon that which is law

    3. When I stand in the face of Christ I am ashamed of myself. His noble character cause me to cry not "I thank God that I am not like other men. but "God be merciful unto me a sinner. 7

    We should go away with the conviction that Christ way is our eternal hope.

1. “‘After Christmas, What?’ to Be Rev. M. L. King, Jr.’s Topic,” Atlanta Daily World, 27 December 1952. King also preached a sermon with this title as one of his final homilies at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in December 1959 (see Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Program, Sunday services, 27 December 1959).

2. “Then he took him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people: A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:28-32). Luke 2:25-35 concerns Simeon, a man who had been waiting for a messiah for Israel.

3. A portion of the right margin of the paper on which this sermon was written was torn and is missing.

4. Cf. Luke 2:14.

5. Cf. Acts 4:13.

6. In a paper written at Crozer, King noted: “He is not the Aristotelian God who merely contemplates upon himself; not only is God a self-knowing father, but he is an ever {other} loving Father” (King, “What a Christian Should Believe About Himself ,” 29 November 1949-15 February 1950, in Papers 1:281).

7. Cf. Luke 18:9-14.

Source: CSKC-INP, Coretta Scott King Collection, In Private Hands, Sermon file.

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