Skip to main content

Poem: The Last Sermon

Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA

Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA

The Ebenezer Baptist Church

A few years ago, I visited the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. There, I sat alone and listened to perhaps our country’s greatest leader and public speaker. I sat solemnly through his last sermon before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Although the sermon, the Drum Major Instinct, was piped in from an old recording, it felt like he was in the church. The ghost of Martin Luther King stood before me as I watched in awe. His message was alive that day in the old, historic church in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. It inspired this poem.

The Last Sermon

I sat in the pew

of an old church

In Atlanta, Georgia.

I prayed with a ghost,

a murdered man's spirit,

the red flowers that were laid

on his grave and the carriage

that drove him there.

I listened

to the piped-in sermon

in a reflective pool of water.

His presence surrounded me

with brown angels

lifting me high

above the mountaintops

where people joined hands—

all religions, all races.

I saw him at the podium,

short in stature but tall,

strong but gentle.

His sweat poured

down my brow.

His warm caring hands

gripped my shoulders.

He shook me.

He woke me up

from my blindness:

Imploring, crying out

for everyone’s freedom.

His quivering voice

trembled with passion,

his heart pounded with love,

his soul was alive and vibrant.

His words injected me

with a serum of truth.

Like a dancing butterfly,

it gave me hope.

That day in an old Atlanta church,

I heard his last sermon,

and I could feel his dream.

Ebenezer Baptist Church

© 2018 Mark Tulin