Response to the Word: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

A 21st Century Africana Liturgy Resource

This response to the sermon was written for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration. It may, however, be adapted for general use. Two introductory statements are suggested.


Introductory statement for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Celebrations:

We came today to remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We have sampled his speeches.
We have heard about his passion.
We have declared his dream.

Now what?

Dr. King fought for righteousness and justice for all people.
He turned a spotlight on America's conscience; a spotlight that shines on us today.
Listen! Don't you hear it?
The spotlight is asking us a question.

Alternate introductory statement for general use:

As you reflect on the Word you have heard from God, remember that the Bible teaches that faith without works is dead. It does us no good to hear God's word unless we are willing to respond.

Response to the Word

[Sung by one voice: "Have you got good religion?"]

"Do you love God?"

Reader 1: If anyone boasts (saying), "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, (that person) is a liar. (1 John 4:20, the Message)

[Sung by one voice: "Have you got good religion?"]

Reader 2: Jesus identified personally with the poor. He said, "I was hungry and you gave me no meal." (Matthew 25:42a, The Message)

Reader 1: In Tennessee, 1 of 5 elderly and 1 of 10 children go to bed hungry each day. (Substitute hunger statistics for your city or county. General information about food security in the United States may be found at

[Sung by one voice: "Have you got good religion?"]

Reader 2: Jesus said, "I was homeless and you gave me no bed." (Matthew 25:43a, The Message)

Reader 1: How can we say we love God if we do nothing while 1500 homeless shiver at night in Nashville? (Substitute statistics from your city or country.)

[Sung by one voice: "Have you got good religion?"]

Reader 2: Jesus said, "I was sick and in prison and you didn't visit me." (From Matthew 25:44)

Reader 1: The incarceration rate in the United States is four times the world average. (See

[Sung by one voice: "Have you got good religion?"]

Reader 2: The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both.

[Sung by one voice: "Have you got good religion?"]

Leader: The song asks, "Have you got good religion?" It demands a response. But before we say, "Certainly Lord," let us pray.


God, you are so loving and compassionate. You hear the audible cries of the poor, the hungry, and the homeless. You also hear the silence of inaction. When we become too comfortable and complacent, disturb our peace with questions. Ask us if we have good religion. Ask us If we love God. Ask us if we love our neighbors in the global village. Ignore our excuses. Ignore our regrets. Then, wait for our honest reply. And lead us to integrity in faith and action. Amen.

Congregation sings: "Certainly Lord," 678, African American Heritage Hymnal

(May be followed by "We Shall Overcome" for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day services)


Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Lectionary Calendar, Services and Liturgies, 21st Century Africana, 21st Century Liturgy