Commentary

Drum Major Institute Prayer Service Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

5th Avenue Presbyterian Church * Sunday January 14, 2108 * 4:00 PM

Invocation – Msgr. Kevin Sullivan

Almighty God, Creator & Savior; it is good that you gather us for these moments of hope and solidarity. They sustain us in a world too often devoid of these life-giving virtues. Thank you the blessed legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: a lofty heavenly dream of justice, wedded to gritty earthly action.

We rejoice for the many acts of service and volunteering to be carried out this weekend. But, Lord, help us to not so raise up these deeds of caring that we domesticate Dr. King’s memory by failing to call out and confront ongoing and new injustices.

Today, some 50 years after those inspired moments of great progress toward racial justice and civil rights, Lord, we must still temper the great Easter hymn: for “the strife is not o’er; the battle is not won.”    

May we not forget that Martin Luther King concern for justice went beyond race, to include war and wages – none of which have yet been solved?   Help us, Almighty God, to further his legacy, and confront a panoply of injustices related to sex and gender, education, the environment, immigration, among others.  

Lord, we fervently need your grace. Help us to diminish our paralyzing hate and self-righteousness; Help us to increase, our fortifying passion and love. Raise our awareness, O, God of light and goodness, to the devils of darkness and evil that take on new insidious forms. The dispersing water hoses of the sixties have given way to the divisive tweets of the21st century; the barking dogs of Birmingham have been replaced by the rallying growls of “fake greatness”  

Lord, a moment of prayer for ourselves. Please do not allow our righteous passion for growing the wheat fields of justice around us to blind us to the patches of weeds entrenched within our own hearts. Lord, preserve us from turning our own personal failings and frustrations into the sins and evils others.

Lord, maybe this is a “bridge too far,” but let me ask anyway: Please help me to see even a few grains of the wheat of your image in those whose expanse of weeds is so evident to me and so overwhelming.

Lord, thank you for the life of Martin Luther King. Continue to inspire us by his legacy. And, well beyond this weekend may your grace, goodness, love sustain us, and draw us further toward your kingdom of justice and peace. Let the assembly say. Amen.

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