Each week of our Intensives—when students travel to Chicago for week-long, in-person classwork on campus for a few weeks—starts with a Monday morning worship service. These services are planned and conducted by students. Since we observed the MLK Day on Monday, the morning worship of the final week of January Intensives was held on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. A group of students put together and delivered a powerful service in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Click on links to read the reflections.

Music for Gathering

Come, Come Whoever You Are

Chalice Lighting

Incarnational Beatitudes
by Nicole Anderson
Read by Kia Bordner and Darrell Dyke (both MDiv students in Community Studies)

Blessed are the homeless and those who beg for spare change, for they will inherit the house of the Lord.

Blessed are the black mothers who lament the deaths of their sons at the hands of the state, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and pansexual individuals who reflect the very image of God, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are the undocumented workers whose labors are hard and whose fear of deportation is real every day, for they will produce many fruits to sustain the kin-dom of Heaven.

Blessed are the marchers who put their lives on the line, putting their faith in action, and demanding mercy for all, for they, too, will receive mercy.

Blessed are the disenfranchised children of Flint, Michigan; of the South Side of Chicago; of the boroughs of New York; of Aleppo and Syria; of Haiti; of Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and all of Africa; and of Chicago, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers as named by Martin Luther King, Jr. who continue to strive in making his dream a reality, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are our Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and First Nation siblings, and all other siblings of differing faiths, who do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their god, for theirs is the kin-dom of heaven.

Blessed are those who are detained, deported, and unjustly held on account of showing radical love and grace to a world filled with violence and hate, for their reward is great in heaven.  


Reflections on Lift Every Voice and Sing
by Aisha Ansano
Read by Antonia Bell-Delgado (MDiv student in Community Studies)

 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a time when particular songs get sung; one of them is “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” It gets sung in school, in church, and at various MLK day celebrations or over the course of Black History Month. It’s a very, very powerful song — but it's often sung without context, and at times it’s sung without a lot of intentionality.

When you sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” do you pay close attention to the words? It’s easy, on a Sunday morning, to open the hymnal and sing along without necessarily processing what we’re saying; what the words we’re saying really mean:

sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
bitter the chastening rod felt in the days when hope unborn had died
we have come over a way that with tears has been watered
we have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered

This song deserves to be sung with attention. It is a song that starkly names the horrors and violence of racism in this country, and it is a song that should make us uncomfortable: uncomfortable with the history that it calls upon, uncomfortable with the fact that the struggle for racial justice continues and has not come quite so far as it should have by now. How can anyone sing the words “treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered” without a deep, deep discomfort?

So when we sing this song, will you join me in singing with intentionality? Will you join me in the deep discomfort that I will be feeling in singing those words? Discomfort with the pain and horror that those words refer back to, and discomfort with the fact that those words do not only refer to a distant history, but also to what is happening now?

Will you commit to sitting with your own discomfort? And then, will you tap into that discomfort and do something? Will you lift your voice and sing until earth and heaven ring with the harmonies of liberty?

Musical Response

Lift Every Voice and Sing
by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring,
ring with the harmonies of liberty;
let our rejoicing rise high as the listening skies,
let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;
sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet
come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered;
we have come, treading our path thru the blood of the slaughtered,
out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
thou who hast by thy might led us into the light,
keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee;
lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee;
shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand,
true to our God, true to our native land.

Reflections on The Drum Major Instinct

Antonia Bell-Delgado



Joe Rettenmaier



Monica Kling-Garcia



Mariela Perez-Simons



Silent Reflection


We Shall Be Known
by Karisha Longaker of MaMuse

We shall be known by the company we keep
by the ones who circle round to tend these fires

We shall be known by the ones who sow and reap
the seeds of change alive from deep within the earth

It is time now
It is time now that we thrive
It is time we lead ourselves into the well

It is time now, and what a time to be alive
In this great turning we shall learn to lead in love
In this great turning we shall learn to lead in love  

Chalice Extinguishing

This is The Message of Our Faith
by Maureen Killoran
Read by Nina Lytton (MDiv student in Leadership Studies)

This is the message of our faith
To act with passion in the face of injustice.
To love with courage in the midst of life’s pain.
This is the meaning of our chalice flame.
May it empower our hearts until we are together again.


We Shall Overcome
by Jonalu Johnstone
Read by Chihiro Ikuyo Kase (international MALS student from Japan) and Nic Filzen (MDiv student in Congregational Studies)

We shall overcome.

When we can truly celebrate the diversity of contributions and talents offered by all people, we shall overcome hatred and prejudice and oppression.

When we can truly extend our hands to one another in loving acceptance, we shall overcome the past that haunts us now.

Living in peace and freedom, we shall overcome the wrongs that have happened and the debts left unpaid.

Let us join together in that commitment to overcome.

Let us say together, “Amen.”