A prayer written and offered by Westminster Elder Leah Threatte on January 16, 2022 following a sermon by local activist Nell Stokes at our celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
This weekend we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man you touched and moved to push our nation from where it sat, to not only address issues of inequality but to take a deep, self-critical and difficult look at the cracks racism and bigotry had embedded deep in our foundation.
He did this work through the building of coalitions, one of the most visually striking examples of this being watching him cross the Edmund Pettis bridge in Selma with John Lewis on one side of him and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel on another.
While racism and hate Divide, the loom of justice embedded in your ancient word weaves those who would seek your kingdom together.
And yet fifty seven years later, as we prepare for today’s service, we watch with bated breath as hostages are held at a synagogue in Texas. We weep with relief and ongoing grief as the mother of Ahmaud Arbery received a small bit of justice, but one that will not bring her son back. We are left baffled by the immigration system as we host a legal clinic for refugees from Afghanistan. It never feels like enough. It never feels like it is working.
Lord you have sent, in the form of the prophets, your Son, the disciples, and leaders that follow, giants with Lion hearts. You have sent them in the form of reverends, lawyers, cleaning ladies, teachers, truck drivers, cooks, writers, musicians, builders…. With voices loud and soft, bodies strong and weak, an array of lights for each of us to follow in seeking a world that reflects your will.
So Lord we thank You for giving us a moment to pause this weekend and – while acknowledging there is far to go – thanking You for sending us the clear repeated message that we all can give something towards this work. That our doubts and fears will not hold us back. That the discomfort is part of the process, but through it we will realize our best selves.
Let us get down to the cracks of racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism and anti-gay sentiments, sexism, ableism, transphobia, religious intolerance, and the dehumanization of those with disabilities. The criminalization of the poor. The foundations need shifting and rattling. They must be moved for our collective survival.
Light our hearts today with inspiration, with perspective on the progress made, with appreciation for old alliances that still hold and new ones to be made, with knowledge that it is only our deepest, most vulnerable humanity toward each other that will weave us together with strong linked hand to cross that bridge, even as horses stand on the other side to knock us down. As You told Moses at the side of the Red Sea:
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Enemies you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Fight for us lord. And show us how to fight. And show us, Lord how to find power even in stillness.
And in this stillness, let us pray as the Lord taught us….. “
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.
~ Given by Elder Leah Threatte, January 16, 2022, when we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.