God, on this day, this day that you have made, we celebrate in loud and public ways that Scripture tells us that all are gifted and able to be called by you!
We celebrate the voices in the church – and especially those who share our heritage as Baptists – who would not be restricted by human limitations. Those who radically and publically stood against such limitations and proclaimed your Word and your call through their words and through their lives. We celebrate their voices and thank you for their courage.
Deep down we struggle with the weight of such voices. For we know that now, today, we can proclaim Martin Luther King, Jr, or and Martha Stearns Marshall as heroic and courageous and maybe even a little bit “safe.” But deep down, we know that in their time, they were anything but safe. They were shrill and unpopular and quite dangerous.
So today, help us to hear more dangerous voices. Help us to hear those who stridently speak out for the least of these. Help us to listen for those voices who are left out…shuffled to the side. Help us not to judge out of fear, but listen out of trust. Help us to trust that the arc of your moral universe, while long, bends toward justice.
God, on this day, this day that you have made, we look at our own lives and our own gifts and celebrate the ways that you have given us a voice. We are thankful that you know us well enough and trust us deeply enough that we are able to share those gifts as your hands and feet on earth. We are thankful that you call us and that your voice of invitation and empowerment rings out to our ears.
Deep down we struggle with the weight of such a voice of calling. For while we like to agree that you are surely capable of using us, when we see ourselves in the mirror, we do not see ourselves as Martin or Martha, but instead we see ourselves as marred or mistaken. When the time comes to speak, or to commit, or to question the authorities of this world, we question instead ourselves. We fear. We doubt. Our selves and our calling.
So today, help us to find our power and authority in your call upon our lives. Help us to know that we are walking around with your very image inside us. Help us to know that we are not too old or too young. Too quiet or too loud. That we are not the wrong gender or race or ethnicity or orientation. That we are not too inexperienced to be used by you. That we are not too untrained to be used by you. That we are not too unknowledgeable to be used by you. For when we think we are, we become to unwilling to be used by you. Help us instead, to know and speak from the power and that voice that you have given us, and help us to be willing to speak it when called upon. And may our voice proclaim the Gospel of the Christ, the Gospel of hope, the Gospel of grace.