As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. it is a good time to renew our commitment to follow Jesus and all the prophets who call us to lives of peace and justice. Today we pray for all of our sisters and brothers who live in fear of violence and terror in Africa and Europe, or the Middle East and here at home.
O Creator and Sustainer of all, we ask you to speak words of comfort and hope to us today. With depressing news bombarding us about climate change, racial tensions, and violence in all parts of the world, we hunger and thirst for the strength and renewal of our spirits that you alone can provide. When so much of the terror and violence we see is fueled by misdirected religious fervor fed by insecurity and self-justification, it is easy to despair and wonder if Dr. King’s dream is still alive.
Remind us, O God, of how far we’ve come since Selma, even as we struggle with how far we have yet to go. And especially remind us again that the dream Dr. King articulated so beautifully with his words and his life was not just his dream. It was a dream of liberty and justice for all that echoes through the ages: from Deuteronomy’s hospitality for aliens and strangers, to Isaiah’s lions and lambs lying down together and Micah’s swords beaten into plowshares, to Jesus’ command to love one another, even those who persecute and revile us. It is a dream preserved by more recent prophets like Jefferson, Lincoln, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Sojourner Truth, by Gandhi, and Mother Theresa and Pope Francis and millions of unknown saints who witness to their faith by daily random acts of kindness.
Parents and teachers, mentors, coaches, nurses and caregivers, missionaries and friends—all doing a small but vital part to pass on the torch of freedom that violence and fear can never extinguish – because it is not our dream. It is ultimately an eternal dream for all of creation that springs from an infinite source of Hope and Trust in the author of that dream.
It is undying faith in you, eternal God, that enables us even in dark times to know with confidence deep in our hearts that with your help we shall indeed overcome – overcome the forces of hate and violence someday. And in that assurance we dare to pray and live in the name of Jesus Christ, who calls us all to keep his dream alive. Amen.
Northwest UMC, Columbus, OH, January 18, 2015