Prayer for the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

USMC-09611By Bill Wylie-Kellermann

Spirit of the Universe, whose moral arc you make to bend toward justice,
thank you for birthing our brother Martin, right on time, into our history, into the journey of transformation for which we yearn. For uttering him in the Word, and forming him in the womb.

We lift him up this day in the communion of ancestors, summoning him from among all who have ever interceded and struggled for justice.

We give thanks for those who formed him…Mother Alberta and Daddy King, Benjamin and George, Rosa and Mother Pollard, Bayard, Stanley, and James, Myles, Septima, and Bernice, even Mohandas from afar…a host beyond our naming.

For being the voice in his heart, at the kitchen table in Montgomery, when the death threats began to whelm him under, thank you. For the promise of your presence in the stand for truth, the stand for justice. Be present to us as well.

For his own voice, its cadence and substance unmistakable. May we hear it still.

All gratitude for his vision of the world revolution and its values. For his naming and confronting the giant triplets, the reigning powers of our culture: racism, militarism, and extreme materialism (this endless war on the poor). For his vocation as civil rights leader, Nobel laureate, preacher of the gospel of Jesus, and child of the living God – all of which called him, he said, to resist war – the war in Vietnam. By our own vocations, call us so in our time.

For this miracle: that honorifics, notoriety, and even hard-fought political successes did not captivate, seduce, or slake his soul, but that his faith and vision became only and ever more radical.

We remember his visionary organizing toward a poor peoples campaign and now intercede for its new incarnation among us.

On the day of his birth we remember also his feast day in April, the witness of his martyrdom and discipleship, his crossing over by state assassination. Clothe us in the freedom of the resurrection in which he walked, through the valley and its shadow, up the Jericho road, even to the mountaintop.

Teach us your ways in him. May we …

be like trees planted by the water;
forge community as movement, and movement as community;
choose non-violence over non-existence;
heal the soul of the nation;
pray with our feet and present our bodies in action;
wage the Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist love of which he spoke;
build this work across the lines, of nation and movement, as those of race and class or gender;
practice non-violence and steadfast resistance;
be strategic (counting the cost); be faithful (risking it all);
do justice, love kindness, and humbly walk in you.

This in the name of the beloved community and the one who births it always. Amen


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