With Martin Luther King, JR. Day approaching, it is an opportunity for the church to offer a lesson or event based on our Baptismal Vows and the Commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Children will have learned in school about MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech. (Have some copies on hand, just in case). Jesus’ “dream” of all people being treated with dignity showed through in his Parable of the Good Samaritan, his talks of the lowly as named by society, and his meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.
An event or lesson would include the telling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the woman at the Well. It would include opportunities to interact with people the children/families would not normally socialize with or feel comfortable doing so. This is a great time to expand people’s comfort zone. Some ideas include: invite someone from the homeless shelter, a family who is being helped by the food bank, people of different cultures, someone living in a nursing home, and someone who benefits from your parish outreach program.
Have the guests prepare with: what would you like us to know about you? What is a typical day like for you? Since we vow to respect the dignity of every human being, what are ways you feel disrespected and how can we interact with you that helps you to feel respected?
Have some activities. If from a different culture, maybe a craft or activity from that culture.
If from an outreach program, have information about the program, a list of ways to get involved and a small project to get the children involved in the outreach program.
This can make adults feel uncomfortable, but that is why we avoid the outcast. This is a chance to learn empathy, compassion, and how to treat others with respect and dignity.
Here are some children’s books on Martin Luther King, Jr: I am Martin Luther King, Jr (Ordinary People Change the World), I have a Dream Book & CD, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.
For other people: Courageous People Who Changed the Worl (Little Heroes), First They were Children: Seven People Who Changed the World