It is a hard time. These past couple of weeks especially have brought simmering tensions in our country to a head, and every day brings new difficult news – of coronavirus deaths, of vaccine distribution problems, of threats of political violence and deepening partisan divides.
This year, MLK Jr. Day seems to fall at a particularly tender moment, and so it invites us to reflection – reflection about a lot of things, but especially about the state of our world and the work of seeking justice in it.
I don’t have many words this day, but I am deep in prayer.
I encourage you to read Dr. King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail today, and to join me as I pray these words on behalf of all of us…
A prayer for MLK Day
We thank you that we have this space each year to reflect on the life and ministry of Martin Luther King Jr.,
To listen again to his words,
To be inspired by his courage and commitment to the long fight for justice.
We recognize now the magnitude of his life and legacy,
And yet it is easy to let time and space inure us to this fact:
That in his time, he was a radical.
Preaching and teaching and living controversial messages of justice and reconciliation,
Messages that got him threats, got him cursed, got him killed.
Help us today to remember that sometimes your word of truth isn’t always welcome,
That, just like a carpenter’s son in Nazareth, sometimes your prophets and your messengers aren’t greeted with open arms,
But criticized and questioned, dismissed and reviled.
Grant us the courage to look at that reality head-on,
And to join with those prophets and teachers advocating for justice, and do the work anyway.
To stand alongside them, to join our voices with theirs, to move our hands and our feet in steady marching rhythm to the drumbeat of your kingdom coming.
God, grant us the humility to always be listening and learning,
To take in new information about the world around us,
To be concerned about injustice and oppression of our brothers and sisters,
To recognize that our well-being is tied up with that of our neighbors, our kin.
To work to reimagine a world where someone’s skin color doesn’t determine their opportunities or their future,
But where people who look, and love, and believe, differently than us are valued every bit as much,
To dream a new dream, like Martin did, of redemption and restoration.
Guide us, O God, as we go.
Make our paths straight, our feet strong, our steps determined,
Keep us on course, and
on this day when we remember, help us to truly look and see and hear, as you would have us do.