(Last month I was visiting my son in Washington, D.C., and I revisited the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream Speech.” I also visited the Martin Luther King Memorial for the first time. It was dedicated in 2011, and this was my first time in Washington since then. I was deeply moved by both monuments, and struck by how much of Dr. King’s Dream, especially around economic justice, is still unfulfilled. People often forget that he was not only a tireless worker for civil rights, but also for peace, and the rights of workers and the poor.
This prayer of invocation is from our local Martin Luther King Service from a decade ago.)
“Lord God, we give you thanks for the blessings you have so generously lavished upon us, for all the ways you provide for our life with both daily bread and spiritual nourishment. It may be cold outside, but let us be warm in here, warmed by the presence of this congregation, warmed by the memory of Martin Luther King, and warmed by the power of your Holy Spirit, whose fire kindles our courage, and makes us bold for your kingdom and its righteousness.
Forgive us those times and places when we have let you down, when we have not answered to the better angels of our nature, when we have danced to the world’s tune and listened to the seductive voices of the powerful and privileged as if their voice was your voice, and worshiped the manifold idols of our own imaginations. Turn us again to you and your righteousness. Keep us from the temptations of an easy virtue and a pious complacency. Remind us that the commitments to righteousness, justice and peace for which Dr. King lived and died are still not accomplished.
So be about us and within us and among us this afternoon as we worship you and remember your servant Martin. Be especially with our preachers and speakers and singers and musicians. And let this time together be precious time, let it be your time, that we may catch a glimpse of your new heaven and new earth, when all the deferred dreams of many generations will be finally fulfilled, when all, from the least to the greatest, will see you and know you, when war will be no more, and prejudice and oppression shall cease, and none shall be afraid. Amen”
(Dr. Floyd’s invocation from the Martin Luther King Memorial service at Second Congregational Church (UCC), Pittsfield, Massachusetts on January 19, 2003)