Joint Peace Prayer (text only)

W. Mark Koenig:

Thanks to Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger for sharing this prayer for peace, reconciliation, and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.

Originally posted on Hyeyoung and Kurt's Korean Adventure:

Today is Liberation Day on the Korean Peninsula. May they be liberated from division and war. Let us pray the prayer composed together by Christians in the North and in the South:

God of Love!

It has been 25 years since we agreed to keep the week of Independence Day as a joint prayer week with the wish of reconciliation, and peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula. It was a promise from the South and North Korean churches’ deep prayer to God for peace and reunification and was a vow of love in a very difficult time. We, however, still have not reached full liberation and still are experiencing conflict and hostile policies. Oh Lord! Have mercy on us.

God of the Road!

You know our suffering and pain at the division of our people. Lord, the road of reconciliation and peace, created by the life and devotion of…

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Walk for Congo with CongoSwim

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGIn conjunction with Orange Days to end violence against women and girls, CongoSwim brings together Presbyterians and people of good will to witness and raise funds to

In solidarity with the Walk for Congo in Oakland, CA, I will walk 5k (a little over 3 miles) with family members in Cleveland Heights August 23rd. If you are in town and would like to walk with us, let me know. In support of my participation, please consider the below ways to support groups working for lasting peace and an end to violence against women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  1. Pray.  Lift up all families and leaders in Congo.
  2. Advocate. One of the top requests from community leaders in Congo is for the full implementation of an existing US law regarding how the US extends military aid within the region. Click HERE to order a postcard to mail to Secretary of State Kerry.  The postcards have already helped create a change in the way the U.S. officials have chosen recent policy for Congo. Details about the US law are in the 30 minute documentary Crisis in the Congo which you can watch on the VIDEOS page.
  3. Donate. Click the ‘Donate’ button below to give what you can.  You may specify my name as the participant you are supporting.  Details about the groups we are raising funds for are on the Who We Support page.  Thank you!

DONATE

If you prefer to give by check, make it payable to Friends of the Congo and put CongoSwim and my name in the memo line.  Mail your check  to:

Friends of the Congo
1629 K St., NW Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006
 
See you along the Trail
 

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A prayer for #NMOS14

10604510_1455047228107493_7131459021695901671_oIn response to the killing of Michael Brown and others, people will gather in solidarity across the country on Thursday, August 14, to hold vigils and observe a moment of silence to honor victims of police brutality. Find information about a National Moment of Silence 2014 near you.

For those who are called to prayer at such a time, Mihee Kim-Kort and I offer the following for you to use or adapt or take as a starting point to create a completely different prayer:

Gracious God,
With breaking hearts and aching spirits, we turn to you.
God, have mercy.

Another violent death has torn your human family.
God, have mercy.

Another person of color,
another of your beloved children,
killed too soon.
God, have mercy.

Families, friends weep.
Communities question and rage.
God have mercy.

Have mercy, God.

Guide us
to see each person,
to value each person,
to treat each person,
as your beloved child.

Help us
to remake systems that diminish, divide, deny, and degrade,
to establish and enforce policies of accountability,
to turn from violence,
to end state-sanctioned police brutality and antiblackness.

Draw us together
to allow justice justice to roll like waters,
to permit righteousness to flow like everlasting streams,
to wash over all your children.
All your children.

This day and every day.

With breaking hearts and aching spirits, we turn to you.
God, have mercy.
Amen.

 

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Bangarang

With thanks to Christine Hong

HookEach person who remembers Robin Williams will see scenes from his career tonight and for many nights to come. So many moments stand out. So many choices.

I carry a moment from Hook. In this film, Williams plays Peter Pan – Peter Pan who has grown up to become Peter Banning. Peter Pan who has forgotten his friends, forgotten how to play, forgotten Never-Land. He even has children now – although he is so immersed in the world of business that he no longer has time for his children or his wife. When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, Peter returns to Never-Land to rescue them. There he realizes that he cannot save his children on his own. Toobtain help, he turns to the Lost Boys.   And they have no idea who this grown-up is – particularly since he can no longer fly or use his imagination or play or crow. “I am Pan,” he insists. Finally one of the Lost Boys looks him directly in the face. He reaches out and touches Pan’s face, staring intently, manipulating it, studying it. “Peter, are you in there?” he asks.For me, it is an image of God moment.All of us, each of us, bears the image of God.No matter how life has worn on us, torn at us. No matter how we have abused and misused ourselves. No matter how our culture has denied and despised us. We bear the image of God.

When you see a mirror, look at your face. Look at the faces of those around you. Look at all the faces you meet. Look carefully, prayerfully, deeply. Look long. Look well. No matter how weathered and worn, battered and bruised, smudged and soiled . . . inside the faces . . . inside every face . . . inside your face . . . there God’s image resides. God give us grace to seek God’s image in one another and to treat one another as bearers of that image.

See you along the Trail.

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#NMOS14

10604510_1455047228107493_7131459021695901671_o

Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 7:00 PM, I will head to Union Square.

On August 14, 2014, citizens across America will gather in solidarity to hold vigils and observe a moment of silence to honor victims of police brutality. The New York event will take place on Union Square at 7:00 PM.

Posters and signs encouraged. No bullhorns. This is a peaceful vigil in memory of the victims.

Follow #NMOS14 for more information and to find a vigil near you.

See you along the Trail.

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Show up for each other

The Rev. Dr. Neal Presa, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) participated in the orientation for Presbyterian delegation to the 58th Session to the Commission on the Status of Women.

After being in New York, he flew to Whitworth University in Spokane, WA for the Third Moderator’s Conversation on Unity with Difference on Race, Gender, and Religious Differences.

The Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz was among the speakers at the conversation. As always, Laura made an insightful, challenging, hopeful presentation on Power and the Black-White Binary: Forging Authentic Church Identities in the Midst of White Supremacy, Patriarchy, and Being “Other Asian”.

Laura provides the following summary of her presentation:

Being church together is challenged by the ways in which various church communities and individual church members interact with power based on race and gender, not to mention class status and regional identity. The church, particularly the PC(USA), includes people with diverse capacities for a real conversation. Through exploring the place of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (who in the PC(USA) can check either “Korean” or “Other Asian” for demographic information on some forms) and others dislocated by the black-white binary in church and U.S. society, together we seek a way to move forward toward being a church that allows for complexities of identity and addresses real inequalities.
A couple of passages should encourage you to read the whole presentation:
Race and gender themselves are not the problems obstructing unity. The problems here are racism and sexism. Who we are isn’t the problem, but how we live into oppressive constructs that separate us from one another is. What I will say this morning is part of a longer conversation we in the church need to have with one another, because even though we have been in this conversation for decades, we have yet to diminish our capacity to sin when it comes to relationship with one another.
Our conversation cannot depend upon a generic experience of racism (usually defined by blackness) or sexism (usually defined by middle-aged white women) imposed upon other experiences. Racism is not just about color. It is also about language, culture, colonialism, national origin, and citizenship status. Sexism is not just about how many women get to be heads of staff of tall steeple churches or directors of church agencies. It is about how we continue to think about gender identity and gender roles, and how those thoughts are embedded in our culture and our policies. It is about earning potential; church policies around work hours, compensation, and family leave; about how well churches minister to the lived realities of women in their employ and women who choose to be part of churches. It is about the culture of church leading change in the culture of this country instead of propping up legal and cultural patriarchy.
 
Social issues are theological. It is a theological problem if Christians believe employment opportunity for those with varying levels of education, immigration, the criminal justice system, gun control, political gerrymandering, disenfranchisement, voter ID laws, the financial services sector, hunger, poverty, and economic inequality are not the business of the church. These are things that have a disproportionate impact on the lives of people of color. These are the problems that keep us from attaining a shot at racial justice. These are the problems that shape our lives because we’re always negotiating with banks to allow our in-laws to keep their homes, or finding lawyers so our mothers can stay in the country, or finding people to write letters attesting to the character of our wrongfully accused sons, or looking for ways to feed our families. We have to worry about elected officials who don’t look like us or care about our communities. This takes up a lot of time and energy, and it is our faith that keeps us going. These are the circumstances we bring with us to church every single Sunday.
Laura also identifies resources for further conversations:
I have read Laura’s presentation several times. I will read it several more as I seek ways to respond to her invitation and challenge:
So if we of varying races, genders, and religious groups show up for each other, and if we of varying spiritual gifts show up for each other, maybe that is a way of finding how to be authentically church. Maybe that is how we can create change.
See you along the Trail.

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On my heart and mind: children

Child soldiersA while back, I posted a sermon about children. Grieving the many places where children endure unimaginable violation, it affirms our call to care for children:

In this place, I am reminded that God is at work in all places. And that sustains and challenges me to look for how God is at work and, as the Holy Spirit gives me grace, to join in that work.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Faith in God in Christ have put them there.

And in this place, God invites us all to join in caring for the children. The children of this congregation. The children of this community. All the children, all God’s children of the world. May we hear and respond.

Today, my friend Laura Mariko Cheifetz posted a reflection on children “Children Aren’t Disposable“. She reaches a similar conclusion:

I think children matter. I think everyone’s child matters. I do not believe that parents or communities or even children need to be virtuous or free of fault in order to think their children and perhaps even their parents deserve protection and generosity. You can make all the bad decisions you want, but I still believe you and your children deserve life. I extrapolated this from the lesson my parents drummed into me: You do not have to earn grace. It has already been given.

Children matter. Their families matter. Grace has already been given. Let’s act like it.

And she does a better job of lifting up ways to act:

Support the Children’s Defense Fund. They do great work at a policy level.

Read Toxic Charity. Consider changing your mission to be less charity and offers more agency to people. Bulk discounts (for your Sunday school or book group) are available. http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.com/Products/9780062076212/toxic-charity–paperback-edition.aspx

Write letters to migrant children. http://www.groundswell-mvmt.org/faithshare/people-are-writing-letters-to-the-migrant-children-and-they-are-beautiful/

Advocate for immigration reform that will allow people dignity and a path to regularization. Congress has recessed for August, so there isn’t legislation to advocate for. But you can still leave a message with your U.S. and state congresspeople urging them to support meaningful immigration reform and humane immigration processes, particularly for children and their parents who may be eligible for asylum, rather than increased criminalization and security measures. TheThoughtfulChristian.com has many books and downloadable studies to help you and your church talk about immigration and take action.

Oppose zero-tolerance policies in schools, stop and frisk public policing, and other ways that disproportionately criminalize black and brown youth.

You may give to UNICEF and UNRWA, who work with children in Gaza and the occupied territories. You can also ask your congresspeople to reconsider our typical military aid package to the nation of Israel. You could work with local peace organizations to advocate for an end to the blockade and the occupation.

Children matter. Join in caring for them.

See you along the Trail.

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