Today on this holiday set aside to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr it seems fitting to also honor a very special person who went to heaven last month after a long and brave battle with cancer. Pastor Ken Hutcherson (AKA Hutch) was our pastor during the brief time we lived up in Seattle and it was an honor for us to have him perform our wedding ceremony 12 1/2 years ago. The reason I think it seems right to remember him especially today along with another great American, Dr. King, is because of his very honest way he described what it was like growing up the way he did in the part of the country – our country – he grew up in. He had to deal with racism since birth which in turn influenced him to become a racist himself. He was full of hate and he even hated Dr. King at first because of his peaceful ways of protest. It wasn’t until years later when he gave his life to Christ that he changed his own prejudices by understanding the truth that there is only one race, the human race, and realized that the idea of peaceful protest that Dr. King professed was actually Biblical.
I can’t do his story justice, so if you are interested, I have a couple of videos that I HIGHLY recommend…especially on a day like today. If our kids were a bit older (perhaps about sixth grade or so), you can bet that we would be investing the time together in watching these videos as a family as a way to celebrate today’s holiday. The first is short and sweet and sort of like an intro to his story and the second is a more detailed account of his life.
It’s important to remember these things from our not so distant past. It’s important to remember these things because they still go on today in many ways. Just because certain laws have been rightly passed doesn’t mean that every one’s hearts have changed. And until people’s heart’s have changed, there will always be some with a racist mentality.
The concept of the heart and the fact that God cares about our hearts more than anything we do on the outside always reminds me of a favorite sermon series that Pastor Hutch gave years ago while we were living in Seattle and attending his church. He was preaching on Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, known as the Beatitudes. He would always crack a joke that instead of the “Beatitudes”, it should have been called “What-Be-YO-Attitude” because the whole message is about the attitude of the heart. In typical Hutch fashion he would say that line deadpan and almost seem mad (which made it hilarious) and then of course not be able to hold in the laughter and would start cracking himself up (which made it even more hilarious).
Hutch is missed by many, but the legacy he left for his family, church, friends, and even our country will not be missed. He left a legacy of God’s redeeming love when he could have easily left one of hate instead.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.