Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dreamers: A Reflection Honoring the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington


Delivered on August 28, 2013
at Westwood Hill Congregation Church, UCC in Los Angeles, CA
On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

What does it mean to have a dream?

Why are dreams so important? 

As I was thinking about these questions and what we’re celebrating here today, I also asked myself why today really matters to us at all. Why celebrate this anniversary, when there are so many other things we could doing on this warm Wednesday afternoon?

We’re here, today, remembering not only the Dream of Martin Luther King Jr., but the dreams and hopes and disappointments and passions of those women, men, and children, who have been denied justice and fundamental rights... not only those thousands who participated in the March on Washington fifty years ago, but those of every time and place who have cried out to heaven, begging for justice from God because it was denied them by their fellow human beings: denied because of the color of their skin or the language they spoke, denied because of the faith they professed or the education they lacked, denied because of who they loved, or simply because they wanted something more, because they had dared to dream.  

The lyricist Christopher Adler once wrote that,

“Dreamers have mountains they will climb
There are dreamers who don't believe in time
Only dreamers have worlds where they can fly far away.

Certain dreamers have kingdoms they will build,
Filled with treasures and dragons to be killed
Only dreamers have wings with which to fly far away.

Some people dream of being rich,
While others dream of being tall.
And there are people who don’t dream at all.” 

The people who gathered on the National Mall fifty years ago had dreams—they dreamed of “jobs for all,” “a decent pay,” “voting rights,” “decent housing,” “effective civil rights,” “first class citizenship,” “an end to bias.” These people weren’t dreaming of mountains and dragons. I imagine that there were very few in the crowd who dreamed of being rich.

Their actions that day, the songs they sang, and the prayers on their lips, gave voice to the hopes that were within each of their hearts—that each one of them would simply be given what was owed to them because of who they were as human beings, as children of God. And that was the dream of Dr. King, who was not simply an activist—he was also a man of faith whose dream was as much a prayer as it was a manifesto or call to action. 

What we are doing today is far more than marking the 50th anniversary of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” more than honoring a significant milestone in the history of the struggle for Civil Rights for African-Americans. Today, we pray for those whose cries for justice and equality remain unheard and unheeded and we recommit ourselves to the work of justice. Fifty years after that historic day, we can’t deny, thank God, that significant steps toward equality and justice for all have been taken: doors have been opened and walls have come tumbling down. But, so much remains to be accomplished. But, as Dr. King once reminded us, “We must accept finite disappointments, but never lose infinite hope.” 

And so, today, “Let Freedom Ring”!  

Recommit yourself to being a person of dialogue, rededicate yourself to work of promoting peace, aspire to make the words of Isaiah and Saint Paul, which we heard proclaimed a reality.  

Be a person of hope. 

Let yourself dream.



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