Holiness in our midst – Session 5


“What is your theme for this year’s MLK Day celebration activities?” I asked the local volunteer engagement coordinator.

“He had a dream. What is yours?” said Sarah Bartlett, VISTA worker at the Volunteer Center of Story County in Ames, IA. I had not expected to be riveted by the answer, but I was that day in December. I suddenly realized that I had been so under the influence of 2012 current events—Superstorm Sandy, the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the turmoil surrounding the national Presidential election—that I had lost my ability to dream big. Thinking in terms of self-survival had become my central response to these times.

Sarah’s provocative theme prompted me to look deeper at the man who led the battle for racial justice in equally unsettled times. Born in 1929 in Atlanta and shot to death in 1968 in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. risked his life challenging systemic segregation. He proclaimed in his famous speech: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

As I studied his other writings, I was empowered to keep seeking the common good by these words from his Letter from Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

On Jan. 21, 2013, I will join in our local observance of MLK Day by doing a community service project and attending a “birthday party” in remembrance of his legacy. My dream? I seek a nation that is fed and housed. I will commit myself to a re-energized dream: to devote myself to community education and advocacy regarding local hunger and homelessness awareness issues. In the wake of gun violence, I will also pay attention to public policies affecting those with mental illness.

With permission, I share my community’s theme as a Story Circle Question for you to ponder.


STORY CIRCLE QUESTION: He had a dream. What is yours? What one small thing can you do this year to make a better world for all?


  1. Read Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in its entirety. Read the above story aloud. Write a reflection on the Story Circle Question. Draw or paint a picture of your dream for a world with more equality.


  1. Read aloud Session V.

  2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Question. Alternate story suggestions: What public issue are you passionate about? How can you keep Dr. King’s original dream alive this year?