A prayer for MLK day


Martin Luther King Jr. 

Some of us are old enough to remember

      the balcony in Memphis,

      the sanitation workers’ strike,

      the shot that broke flesh,

      the loss of Martin,

            and then the mule-drawn wagon,

                          and the funeral,

            and the riots, the violence, the fear,

                          and the failure.

All of us know the crowd in D.C.

     and “I Have a Dream,”

     the Birmingham jail,

     the broad stream of violence, 

       and his steadfast nonviolence

                      in Albany and 

                      in Skokie and 

                      in Selma.

All of know his awesome, daring speech, 

     his bravery, his hope, and his generative word.

And we know the relentlessness of our government

     in pursuit of him

    and the endless surveillance and harassment 

                           of this drum major for justice.

At this distance, we have little access

     to how it was then concerning ambiguity

              and fear

              and reluctance

              and violence

              and injustice.

We do not doubt that you have persisted

     even beyond Martin’s passion,

     even beyond Martin’s brilliance,

     even beyond Martin’s fidelity, and

                         his loss.

We do not doubt that through him and beyond him,

     you, holy God of the prophets,

          are still pledged to justice and

                                      peace and 

                                      liberty for all.

We remember Martin in gratitude…

                      and chagrin.

And we pledge, amid our stressed ambiguities,

              to dream as he did,

              to walk the walk

              and to talk the talk of your coming kingdom.

We pledge, so sure that your truth

    will not stop its march

        until your will is done on earth as it is in heaven. 

From Prayers for a Privileged People ~ Walter Brueggemann