Sunday, February 1, 2009

Opening Prayer at the Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast In Dubuque, Iowa, January 19, 2009

God of Community, thank you for gathering us this day, this very significant day at the beginning of an important week for our country. We remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream that we might all be one, living together with justice, liberty and opportunity for all. We repent of the mistrust and prejudice which divide and oppress. We celebrate. We dedicate ourselves to the work of reconciliation. The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. The time of fierce urgency is now.

On this 80th anniversary of birth of Dr. King, 46 years since he gave the “I have a dream speech,” we pray for the man, Barack Obama, who will take the oath of office of president of the United State tomorrow on the steps of the Capitol built by slaves.

As people of all faiths, give us courage, clear and convincing voices, and energy for acts of powerful servanthood to build Dr. Kings’ neighborhood all over this city, all over this nation, all over the world. Bless this food and those who have grown and prepared it that we might be strengthened to serve this day and every day. Amen.

May all of us here, some for the first time, and we who sang this song again and again during the civil rights movement led by Dr. King, now sing the first verse of “We Shall Overcome.” It is fitting we begin this day singing that song today, but singing it now with a difference.

We shall overcome.
We shall overcome.
We shall overcome someday.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday.

This annual breakfast was first held many years ago in Dubuque, with a handful of people. Today it is held at the convention center downtown with hundreds in attendance, including elected officials and high school students. Community service events are held all over town for the participation of school children and adults. As we sang, some youth did not yet know the words, and other people sang with emotion too great for words.

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