Yesterday I took the train back to Lula and Lilly after a wonderful weekend of Persian ministry in Hamburg (more on that next week). The man sitting next to me was an African-American civilian from Virginia, working here in Germany. I said that I am a Lutheran pastor and asked him whether he is a church-going man. “Yessir, I’m Baptist.” “Good to hear!” I replied. After some chit-chat, I asked him, “Do you know the story of the Baptist minister who visited ‘Lutherland’ in the 1930s?” “No,” he replied, “please tell me.” “In 1934, a Baptist reverend from Atlanta named Michael King visited Wittenberg, the Wartburg, etc., along with his son, also named Michael. On that trip, Dad came to appreciate how Martin Luther had rediscovered the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the center of our faith, which to a certain extent had gotten lost in the medieval Church. In fact, Dad was so thrilled by the Reformer’s work that both of them later changed their name from ‘Michael’ to ‘Martin.’ And so, the man whom we remember this weekend in a way started out Lutheran.” “Wow, I had no idea,” he remarked. “But there’s a curious thing,” I added. “I think Dr. King would be very unhappy with the direction that America seems to be taking. He dreamed that someday his children would be judged only by their character, not by the color of their skin. Sadly, today some people today want to flip that around and make skin color the defining characteristic of a person.” “Yes,” he agreed, “that goes completely against Dr. King’s vision.” “And yet, what has the greatest impact on our character? When we realize that we’re sinners yet are saved by Christ, and allow the Holy Spirit to gradually change our character to His image, filling us with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). “I couldn’t agree more,” he responded. When I got to my stop, we bumped elbows and wished each other “Happy Martin Luther King Day”—a day that arguably has Lutheran roots!