On Sunday January 20, 2013, the children at my parish (St. Luke’s Episcopal) performed this play, written by me. Our church celebrates Martin Luther King Jr Day in a major way, with a large processional, freedom songs, and events honoring Black Leaders. I wrote the play to reflect on the life of MLK and how it could inspire President Obama. I also hoped that people would walk away realizing how important service and servanthood are to the development of community and our nation. I’ll post the video to this post as soon as I receive it. Enjoy!
Summary: Barack and Michelle Obama are preparing for bed on the night of Barack’s reelection. Talk leads to Martin Luther King Jr and other heroes and heroines of the Civil Rights Era. As they sleep, in heaven, Martin and Coretta King, discuss the recent reelection of President Obama. They ask God to inspire President Obama by speaking to him, in the president’s dreams.
Setting: The Presidential bedroom
Michelle (MO): I am so proud of you Barak! God’s favor has carried you through!
Barak (BO): Yes, Michelle! To God be the glory! The people of this country have reelected me!
MO: Can you believe it? God has placed you in a position to not only serve this country, but to give Him all of the glory!
BO: I couldn’t have done it without your support, God’s favor, and other people who paved the way for me.
MO: Like who?
BO: You know… Generations of enslaved people, who built this nation, leaders from around the world such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Ella Baker, Shirley Chisholm and those many other silent heroes.
MO: You’re right! I wish the people who didn’t live to see your election in 2008 and now your reelection tonight, could see how far this nation has come.
MO: Just today, I overheard Malia talking about her Sunday school lesson about the role of women. Her Sunday school teacher shared with the students the story of Deborah and Barak from Judges Chapter 4, verses 9, 11, and 17 through 22. In Judges, Deborah told Barak that Israel would be delivered by the hand of a woman, through prophecy. Because Deborah knew God for herself, she was able to strengthen Barak, allowing him to lead the army of Israel to victory. You see, God has used women not only to strengthen the hands of others but in being spokespersons and leaders in their own right.
BO: You’re right Michelle! There were many women who played a critical role in our history and creating opportunities for us today. There was Harriet Tubman who escaped slavery and led many on the Underground Railroad to freedom farther north. There was Sojourner Truth, who after her manumission from slavery in New York State, preached God’s word of liberation for Blacks and women. There was Miriam Makeba who sang freedom songs in South Africa until the apartheid government banished her. And there was Ella Baker, whose strong organizational skills were indispensable in building up the NAACP, and in helping to organize the SCLS and SNCC.
MO: Yes. Ella Baker also established the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1968, which forced the rules to be changed on the governance of the Democratic Party that influences the experience of freedom for all. Those rules of inclusion were critical to your election in 2008 and reelection today.
BO: (nods head in agreement) Not only do I wish that they could see how far we’ve come, but also help give me advice on how to further improve my leadership skills as well as once and for all ending racism, sexism, classism and other issues.
MO: Well, let’s thank God tonight for his blessings and ask Him to continue to lead us in the right direction.
Barak and Michelle hold hands as they pray
BO: Sovereign God, thank you for blessing us with this opportunity! Help us to keep an open ear to your summons to service. Lord, call our name; move us towards justice. Help us to know that we are the ones that we have been looking for. And by the movement of your Holy Spirit make your presence known in our lives and in our communities, and nation in these troubling times. In the name of Jesus Christ…
MO and BO: Amen!
Michelle and Barak lay down to sleep
“Heavenly” music plays
Enter Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King,
Setting: Drinking Coffee together in heaven
Martin (MLK): Didn’t the heavenly angels sound great tonight?
Coretta (CSK): Oh yes! It seems as if they were inspired by the reelection of Barak Obama.
MLK: That young man was destined for greatness. I’m so proud to be able to look down and see how far our earthly home has come. They still have a long way to go, however.
CSK: But if they keep God first. Love their neighbors and listen to His directives, they’ll get it together.
MLK: You’re right, Coretta.
CSK: Martin, in their prayers tonight, Barak and Michelle prayed that God help them move towards justice. Is there any way that we can intercede on their behalf?
MLK: Sure! Let me put a call in using this intercessory prayer line. I know just who to call.
MLK picks up telephone. It rings. God answers.
God (G): Hello?
MLK: God, it’s me. Martin. How are you?
G: Hi, Martin! I’m blessed and highly favored! You?
MLK: I’m great! I was calling to see if you could intercede on behalf of President Obama and the first Lady’s prayers. They need help moving the country in the right direction. They say that they were inspired by me, but I thought that you would also be a great inspiration to them to.
G: Sure! What do you need me to do?
MLK: Appear to Barak and Michelle in a dream. Inspire them to better serve their nation and the world.
G: Got it! I’ll do it right away.
Martin and God hang up intercessory prayer line (phone)
“Dream-like” music plays
God appears standing over Barak and Michelle, who are sleeping
Barak and Michelle, like my other children you have been called to be great. My gracious love reveals my purpose and plan for your lives in moving you towards greatness. Often, however, people on earth misunderstand what that means. Many think that greatness means being served, you should discover that greatness means being a servant, like your personal hero, Martin Luther King. My desire for my children is to have greatness, which is connected with your role in my plan of salvation and deliverance for all people. I give those with personalities like mine the opportunity to get their understanding of greatness in perspective so that they will be used for the kingdom of God.
You see, in experiencing greatness in me requires that you grow in the grace of me. Having greatness is not instantaneous; it is a process that often involves painful situations. I’m sure you faced many of those during your last presidential campaign. But in order to understand the meaning of true greatness, you needed to go through a process that only difficult circumstances could teach.
You think you had it tough with all the mudslinging? Just reread the bible.
My children have learned important lessons on their journeys towards greatness, just as you have. They’ve learned to be humble, to provide excellent service, to have a good attitude, and most of all, to give glory to God from where all of their gifts and abilities come from.
You’re inspired by the Reverend Martin Luther King, right? Well, he used his gift of oratory (speaking) to give me the glory. I challenge you to ask yourself what are your gifts? And how can you use them to give me the glory.
At times, you’ll probably feel lonely. Sometimes, you might even believe that I have forgotten about you. How do you think Martin Luther King felt while he was in jail? Nevertheless, negative things are external to my favor and grace.
I hope this helps!
Barak and Michelle awaken the next morning
MO: Barak, how’d you sleep last night?
BO: I slept well, but I had the strangest dream.
MO: What about?
BO: About God.
BO: After that dream, it’s evident that God sets people aside to do great things. God predestined for all of those leaders we were discussing yesterday to do great things!
MO: You’re right! God chose our parents, gender, skin color, personality and other characteristics to help us in our journey toward greatness. It’s too bad, people have used those things to oppress others.
BO: But look at people like Nelson Mandela. He was a Black lawyer in South Africa during apartheid. Or Hosea Williams who survived imprisonments because of his work on civil rights. Or Martin Luther King, who fought against Jim Crow here in the United States. It’s obvious that greatness is defined by the power of God that lies on the inside of a person and their willingness to serve God. Many people do not realize their own potential for greatness because they are looking at themselves through the lens of the world and not God. However, all of us are made in the image of God, and we all look great!
MO: The sense to feel either inferior or superior can only be overcome by God’s grace. This is why we as African Americans, despite centuries of abuse, could identify God’s grace in the midst of racial prejudice and violence. From the days of slavery to even some of the issues that we must overcome today, we are able to sing songs like, “Woke Up This Morning with my Mind” and “Oh, Freedom”. Even though we’re fighting for freedoms for all, we’re able to keep focused on our goals and move toward greatness of soul and mind. Faith enables us to experience God’s grace, knowing that God is present even in the midst of evil.
BO: You know Michelle, our crusade like that of the civil rights movement, should be to not only level the playing field for all, but to also bring people together and end oppression. That can be our proclamation that we are all God’s children with significant roles to fulfill in bringing forth God’s kingdom. We are heirs to the Kingdom and the pathway to that Kingdom is servant hood. Anytime we have the opportunity to serve, we have an opportunity to move on the pathway of greatness in God. Greatness has to do with being a servant, giving people a lift to the next level in doing the will of God. That’s our goal during this next four years. I’m sure that, that would make civil rights leaders, our communities, and most of all God proud.