One of our Lay Preachers had the pulpit this morning, which is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. She used two of his prayers to frame a sermon which relied mostly on his words, spoken during the March on Washington over fifty years ago. It was sobering to realize how timely and relevant his message was this morning. It was inspiring to hear him overcome the weight of history and its slow, slow progress to insist upon hope.
This afternoon, we gather again with others from the community at our sister church along the street for an annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr King and his service to Christ and to this country. My charge is to offer prayer for our youth.
ageless and timeless;
once you were young,
growing up in a world much like ours,
filled with uncertainty, insecurity, opportunities for grace.
Swaying under the influence of a foreign empire,
the leaders of your nation chose palaces over their people,
sacrificed justice in Jerusalem –
when the Word of God came to the prophet Jeremiah, he said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”;* and the Lord God said, “Oh no, no, no… I will tell you when you are too young, and I will tell you when you are too old.”
For you, eternal God, ageless and timeless, you once were young. You have felt the fire and the fear burn together in your belly. You know what it is to see further than your fathers and your mothers, to entertain dreams beyond the imagining of generations past. You have been to the mountaintop.
You came into the world, and the world knew you not; to your own people, and your own people received you not. Yet to all who receive you and who call upon your name you give power to become children of God.**
ageless and timeless,
pour out your Spirit upon these your children.
Let your young men dream and your young women prophesy.***
Give them strength to stand before powers and principalities.
Plant justice in their hearts; let it bear fruits of love and mercy.
Let them give voice to your purpose,
your peace in our times;
and grant us the wisdom to hear them.
*Jeremiah 1:6, RSV; **John 1:10-12; ***Joel 2:28