Prayer before reading Matthew 5:43-45 on the forty-ninth anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

God, I know what this meant for Jesus
as he took the path to the cross
and I know what this meant
for Martin Luther King, Jr.
before he was murdered in Memphis.

I don’t know what it is going to mean
in the life of the next person to hear it,
but I do know that it will
turn everything upside down.

Open my heart, then my mind,
then my mouth —
so that these words name
the hardest and most hopeful challenge
in the lives of the listeners,
and in my life. amen.

(‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.     “Loving your Enemies” was a 1957 King sermon based on this passage)

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