Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr, 15th January birthday

Martin Luther King Jr Day is observed in the USA on the third Monday of January, which is around his birthday on 15th January. On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor Dr. King. It was federally observed for the first time on January 20, 1986. The day is traditionally celebrated as a day of service, with people volunteering time and talent to help others, thus paying homage to Dr. King’s legacy.

April 4th is the anniversary of his death.

Martin Luther King had a profound impact in his own country, and around the world.

See also #BlackLivesMatter.

Google’s Doodle (2018) by guest artist Cannaday Chapman was developed in collaboration with the Black Googlers Network (BGN), one of the largest employee resource groups at Google. The image depicts a young girl perched on her father’s shoulders, enthralled by the power and eloquence of Dr. King’s words. The scene is evocative of Dr. King’s dream for children everywhere to one day live in a better world.

Stan Duncan has prepared an excellent resource, A Presentation for Two Readers and Choir of the Life and Words of Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. (the format of the resource provides a helpful framework to recollect his story with spoken word and music).  MLKService2013

Textweek has also compiled a list of great resources.

A reading from the I Have a Dream speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [1929-1968], delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963:
“When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

God, give me courage
to stand with Martin,
not to pay his cost, but mine;
to walk in Martin’s shadow,
full of light,
to trust I need not be heroic,
but with faith unveil
the light within me,
and trust the night is made beautiful
by the tiniest of stars
splendored through the darkness.
This is not a day that needs another sun,
but a night that needs
all its stars.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes , Unfolding Light)

A prayer
Holy God, may we hear your voice
In the stillness of night, in clatter of day
You call us, and we respond,
Here I am!
May we follow you and
May we love as you love.

Holy One, through trials and turbulence
Make us steady, your hands
Holding strong the fragile and weak
May we love as you love.

Gracious God, may the fruits of our lives
be food for the hungry, bread
clothing, shelter, fire, water, Word
May we love as you love.

God of justice, remove the barriers
Of our lives that keep us from
One another, barriers we construct
Based on skin color, religion, or gender
May we hear, and follow, graciously.
May we love as you love.

Loving God, take this day our fears our
Worries, distractions, and all
Turn them into grace and mercy,
And, following the example of Martin Luther King, Jr.
and all your Saints,
May we love as you love. Amen
(Source: Terri on the RevGalBlogPals)

We lift our song of praise and victory
for beloved brother Martin.
He bore God’s yoke,
God’s passion to set us free.
With the courage of the prophets he named
the evils of our racism, materialism and war.
He stood fast against our hate and greed
and was not silenced.
He stood fast against the tide of fear
and was not swept away.
He stood fast against the threat of death
and was not stopped.
He bore in his bones the sorrow of his people
and their mighty hope.
He did not point the way for others,
but walked the journey of self-purifying love,
with gentleness to speak to our violence,
with humility to demand justice,
with honesty to name our sin,
with love to confront hate.
He became a furnace of God,
where love burned away fear
and light burned away darkness
and life burned away death.
He was murdered for his love,
but his love remained.
This is his victory: not that all ended well,
but he spoke the word of love and justice and freedom
and even in death his word struck the bell in our hearts
that rings and rings and rings.
Death has not stopped the song of freedom;
death has not silenced the voice of truth;
death has not closed the path of justice:
we march on with brother Martin.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Michael Moore – ‘I was there; and I am here’
A reflection on the debate, past (1965) and present (2022), of voting rights in the USA, and the way voting rights have been made more difficult.


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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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