Litany of Commitment: A worship resource on gun violence using the words of Martin Luther King Jr.




This Litany of Commitment includes words of Martin Luther King Jr., from a speech to Clergy and Laity Against the Vietnam War, delivered less than a month before his death. Written by pastor Dolores McCabe and Susan Windle, it was first published in the Heeding God’s Call newsletter before the most recent school shooting at Newtown, Conn. Newsline shares it here as a resource for celebrations of Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 21.

Leader: In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”

People: Listen to our voices.

Leader: We are the mothers and fathers who have children who will never grow old, because they have been shot dead on the city streets.

People: Listen to our voices.

Leader: We are brothers and sisters who are growing up without seeing what our siblings would become, and we want to end the killing.

People: Listen to our voices.

Leader: We are cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors.... We are all related to the victims of violence.

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People: Listen to our voices.

Leader: We are the children of the most high God. We speak for the voiceless of Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Colorado, Oak Park,Wisconsin.... For the voiceless of Philadelphia and all the wounded cities and towns throughout this nation, for all beloved communities torn by the ravages of gun violence.

People: Listen to our voices.

Leader: In the words of Dr. King, "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late."

People: Now is the time.

Leader: Now is the time to end the senseless killing of our boys and girls, our men and women.

People: Now is the time.

Leader: Now is the time to cease the profligate sale of assault weapons and all multiple firing guns, weapons meant only for murder.

People: Now is the time.

Leader: Now is the time to rid our streets of all illegal weapons, to put a stop to the straw purchasing of firearms.

People: Now is the time.

Leader: Now is the time to demand that gun dealers adhere to an ethical "Code of Conduct,” a code of behavior that holds them accountable to the communities in which they do their business.

People: Now is the time.

Leader: Returning to the voice and message of Martin Luther King, “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society.”

People: Now is the time.

Leader: With homage again to Dr. King, we say “...let us begin...let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter but beautiful struggle for a new world.”

All: Listen to our voices. Now is the time.
 
-- This litany was shared by Heeding God’s Call, a faith-based movement to prevent gun violence. Heeding God’s Call was started during a meeting of the Historic Peace Churches in Philadelphia, Pa., and now has chapters in other areas of Pennsylvania including Harrisburg, as well as Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C. For more go to www.heedinggodscall.org .

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