My children were young, one in fifth grade and the other in first grade. It was a school holiday, a Monday off and we decided to go to a nearby shopping mall. We probably had to buy something like a white blouse for my daughter’s upcoming school concert. Or maybe we were just going there to kill time on a cold winter day. NPR was on the radio and they were rebroadcasting Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Listening to the speech I was transported back to when I was in fifth or sixth grade and the speech was first delivered, an impassioned face and voice pouring through our small black and white television. My kids and I sat in the car, me mesmerized again by the power and potency of hope. I have to give my kids credit, they listened too, and didn’t bug me to get out of the car until the speech was over. We just sat in the car in the parking garage and listened to the entire speech. Then, wiping away tears, I helped them out of the car and holding their hands we walked into the mall to do our errand.
Last Sunday, a week ago, the local Dearborn, MI interfaith community held our worship service commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. day. American Baptists, Lutheran (ELCA), Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Polish Catholics, Muslims, and Jews along with the concert choir of the Henry Ford Community College, all gathered to sing, pray, and remember. The mayor of Dearborn was there, as was Rep. John Dingell, Congressman for this district. Last year and this year both the mayor and congressman spoke passionately about their memories of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dingell knew MLK, Jr. and worked with him back in the day. Both the mayor and the congressman reminded us of how far we in the metro-Detroit area have come. We have made huge strides in the last thirty some odd year toward racial equality. And, as the choir director at Christ Church reminded us yesterday, celebrating this service in Dearborn is profoundly important, considering the multicultural and interfaith reality we live in. One of the most profound moments of the service, following the reflections from the mayor and congressman, was the reading of “I Have a Dream.” A Muslim woman, headscarf and long dress, stood in the pulpit of the First Baptist Church and read the speech. Honestly, it still brings tears to my eyes. This woman, a college student, read that speech in such a way that one knew deep in one’s soul how powerful the words are for her – that we are still trying to live into that dream – that this is this woman’s dream too.
In sermon yesterday I spoke a great deal about our delegation in Liberia and the potential for us to help a church in Monrovia build a school. We have a sum of money given to the church that can be accessed through a grant proposal process and the school is one project being considered for a grant. Some parishioners question this project and wonder why we don’t do something more local. No doubt there is plenty of need right here in our backyard, in Detroit. But the answer is simple, no one has sent in a grant proposal for a project in this area. Any parishioner can submit a proposal. This one in Liberia came from a parishioner. Through out the world there are high needs. Does it really matter, in the end, if we help someone here or there?
The people at Good Shepherd Church in Monrovia have BIG dreams. I hope we will decide to use some of this money, given to the church through the estate of a parishioner, to work with Good Shepherd and make a dream a reality.