Prayers and Suggested Readings for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

January 7th, 2013

Pastoral Prayer

IT IS GIVEN to only a few people, O God, to rise above the crowds and become symbols of hope and passion to all of us. We thank you for these persons, from Moses and Christ to Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and for the way they remind us of your care and grace for all the little ones of the earth. We praise you today, on Dr. King’s birthday, for the qualities that shaped his life: for a strong sense of justice, that regarded all souls as having importance in your eyes; for an unshakeable belief in love and gentleness, that would not permit him to turn to violence in order to achieve his dreams; for a commitment to sacrifice, that led him forward without regard for his own safety; and for an ultimate trust in you, that you would never abandon those who stand up for truth and righteousness in the world. We mourn what the world did to him—the pain and the degradation, and finally the death. But we celebrate the dream for which he stood, of a society where the lion and the lamb would lie down together, and the children of all races and backgrounds would mingle together in sweetness and harmony of spirit. Help us to be as committed to that dream as he was, to care as much about the poor and disenfranchised as he did, to be prepared to pay the price that he paid to insure its ultimate success. Teach us to love all men and women as our brothers and sisters, and to care as much about their welfare as we care about our own. And grant that we shall always have heroes whom we admire for their moral clarity, their unremitting courage, and their passion for righteousness, that your name and your way may be honored in all the world. Through Christ our Savior. Amen.

Responsive Prayer

Leader: We are grateful, O God, for those whose lives inspire our own.

People: We pray that we may be more like them.

Leader: Grant that we may aspire to more than a fleeting popularity and a temporary fame.

People: Make us yearn for true greatness in our midst—for those who actually serve your kingdom with all their hearts and all their might.

Leader: Help us to follow the real leaders and not the false leaders.

People: Give us the grace to discern who the real leaders are, and to honor them while they are living.

Leader: Let the spirit of Christ be in us all, to teach us truth and not error, and love and not hate.

People: And grant that we may be ready, like your servant Martin Luther King, Jr., to pay any price in the service of your kingdom.

All: Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Suggested Readings

Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 41:17-20; Romans 12:14-21; 13:1-2, 8-10

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