April 4- Day 35 of Lent

OPENING PRAYER: Loss is Indeed our Gain (Walter Brueggemann)

The Pushing and Shoving in the world is endless.
We are pushed and shoved.
And we do our share of pushing and shoving
in our great anxiety.
And in the middle of that
you have set down your beloved suffering son
who was like a sheep led to slaughter
who opened not his mouth.

We seem not able,
so we ask you to create space in our life
where we may ponder his suffering
and your summons for us to suffer with him,
suspecting that suffering is the only way to newness.

So we pray for your church in these Lenten days,
when we are driven to denial —
not to notice the suffering,
not to engage it,
not to acknowledge it.
So be that way of truth among us
that we should not deceive ourselves
That we shall see that loss is indeed our gain.
We give you thanks for that mystery from which we live.

Amen.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: APRIL 4, 1968

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassinated

Thirteen hundred African American sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee went on strike on February 12, 1968, to protest low pay and poor treatment. When city leaders largely ignored the strike and refused to negotiate, the workers sought assistance from civil rights leaders, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King enthusiastically agreed to help and delivered a speech to more than 15,000 people in Memphis on March 18, 1968. Dr. King also planned and organized a march to take place ten days later. Against his wishes, the planned march turned violent and at least one protester was killed as police forcibly dispersed the marchers. Dr. King planned a second march to take place on April 8.

On April 3, 1968, Dr. King braved a bomb threat on his scheduled flight and traveled to Memphis. He delivered his iconic “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon, reflecting on his own mortality before retiring to the Lorraine Motel. The next evening, Dr. King was shot as he stepped out onto the motel balcony and rushed to nearby St. Joseph’s hospital. At 7:05 p.m. on April 4, 1968, 39-year-old Dr. King was pronounced dead, leaving a nation in shock and sparking riots in more than a hundred cities across the country.

In an interview with Mike Wallace, two years before his assassination, Dr. King, speaking about riots that were taking place within the nation, said “I contend that the cry of ‘Black Power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”

After news spread throughout the country about King’s assassination, the vast majority of the nation, particularly its African American citizens, felt unheard, hopeless, and defeated. While many did not riot, some did, and King pointed out why two years prior.

James Earl Ray, a white man, was later convicted of the murder. Although many still have question regarding Ray’s ability to action such a way alone.

SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: ROMANS 12:1-2

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day35

You may close with the following:

Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

CLOSING PRAYER:  A Public Prayer for Divine Perspective (Coretta Scott King, 1960s)

“Eternal and everlasting God, who art the Father of all mankind, as we turn aside from the hurly-burly of everyday living, may our hearts and souls, yea our very spirits, be lifted upward to Thee, for it is from Thee that all blessing cometh.

Keep us ever mindful of our dependence upon Thee, for without Thee our efforts are but naught. We pray for Thy divine guidance as we travel the highways of life. We pray for more courage. We pray for more faith and above all we pray for more love.

May we somehow come to understand the true meaning of Thy love as revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Thy son and our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. May the Cross ever remind us of Thy great love, for greater love no man hath given. This is our supreme example, O God. May we be constrained to follow in the name and Spirit of Jesus, we pray.”

Amen.

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