Tag Archives: grace

After – Albuquerque 1996

1294519_10151934672121063_245716286_oAfter the prayers had been said
and the motions had been made;

after the rulings had been dispensed
and the speeches had been delivered;

after the instructions had been given
and the buttons had been pushed;

after the votes had been tallied
and the results announced;

after the passion
and the decent order;

after . . .
. . . the assembly sat in quiet contemplation,
pondering who had won
and who had lost,
considering what was gained
and what the cost.

My heart sundered the silence,
breaking, softly breaking,
for those, who by official action,
had been denied their full humanity,
and, whose gifts, but that same official action,
had been rejected.

A tear slid down my check,
coming to rest in tangled whiskers.
A single tear
shed for those beloved of God
who the vote would exclude
and for those
who out of fear
or prejudice
or lack of love
or for whatever reason
sought to shut doors –
and build walls –
and keep out –
and settle once and for all;
and in so doing
lost an opportunity
to join in
God’s amazing,
welcoming,
including,
affirming,
door-opening,
wall-smashing,
never-ending
love.

This was written after the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 208th General Assembly (1996). That assembly met in Albuquerque, New Mexico and took action to recommend a change the church’s constitution that would ban LGBTQ individuals from serving in ordained offices. I attended that assembly as an observer. As the United Methodist Church meets to wrestle with similar questions, I remembered this piece and choose to share it. 

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Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends, Human Rights, Poem, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

You are beloved

If remembered, relived violation
battered and bruised you this day;

if unexamined privilege
and barely restrained belligerence
pierced your heart,
assailed your soul,
distressed your mind,
sapped your strength;
know,
as day ends,
know:
you are not alone
you are stronger than you imagine,
you are believed,
you are beloved.
27 September 2018
Manhattan, New York

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Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends, New York, Poem

The Cellist of Sarajevo

It was the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, and produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.
Sylvia Poggioli

And everyday he made me wonder
Where did he ever find
The music midst the madness
The courage to be kind
The long forgotten beauty
We thought was blown away
– John McCutcheon
In the Streets of Sarajevo

61ZpqI2PvnL._SS500April 5, 1992 saw the first casualties in what became a 1,425 day siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.

More than 10,000 residents died because of shelling, bombing, the blockade, sniper fire, and other aspects of the siege.

In the midst of the siege, “the madness” to use John McCutcheon’s word, Vedran Smailović, of the Sarajevo Philarmonic Orchestra, played his cello in publuc. He played in ruined buildings, often performing Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor. He played at funerals during the siege, even though snipers often targeted by snipers.

After mortar fire killed 22 people as the stood in a bread line, Smailović played for 22 straight days in their honor. This part of Smailović’s story has made its way into writings and song. In an article in The Australian, Smailović expands on his experience:

I didn’t play for 22 days, I played all my life in Sarajevo and for the two years of the siege each and every day. They keep saying I played at four in the afternoon, but the explosion was at 10 in the morning and I am not stupid, I wasn’t looking to get shot by snipers so I varied my routine. I never stopped playing music throughout the siege.

Twenty-two days, two years, all his life. The time frame is unimportant. What matters is that Smailović found music and courage and grace and love to make a witness in the face of war and horror.

I give thanks for the Cellist of Sarajevo, and I look for others who, to paraphrase McCutcheon, “do not stand aside … refuse to be defeated … and rage against the tide.”

See you along the Trail.

P.S. After leaving Sarajevo, Vedran Smailović collaborated with Irish singer-songwriter and peace activist Tommy Sands to create an album Sarajevo/Belfast.

P.P.S. I use the image of the CD cover because it is a photo I took of a copy of the CD I own.

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Lent 2017, day 5

 

lenten-reflections-on-the-confession-of-belhar“We are blessed saints by God. Bound in God’s grace, we live within God’s mercy. In God’s mercy, we need to build up instead of tear down. We show God’s mercy to each other through forgiveness. Lent reminds us of the important role forgiveness plays in unity. To forgive others is crucial in situations of conflict, as is accepting forgiveness offered to us. Mercy and forgiveness are essential.”
Grace Ji-Sun Kim
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar

May I have the courage to forgive others; the grace to accept forgiveness; and the mercy to forgive myself.

This Lenten season I am using a new resource to explore the Belhar Confession: Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar, edited by Kerri N. Allen and Donald K. McKim. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in which I serve as a teaching elder (pastor), added the Confession of Belhar to our Book of Confessions in 2016. This confession came from the Dutch Reformed Mission Church during its historic struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Books, Lent, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Uncategorized

The Until We Meet Again Tour – 20 August 2016

UN Ministry New LogoThe Until We Meet Again Tour for today saw most of my time spent at the Shire packing, cleaning, and walking packages to the U.S. Post Office. The tour included finishing the appraisal for the final Princeton Theological Seminary field education student who served at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

He was the 36th.

36 field education students, volunteers, and volunteer interns who worked at the ministry from 2011 through this summer when I left.

36.

36 unique individuals.

Each with gifts and skills; each with challenges; each with faith and grace.

Each served Jesus Christ.

Each touched my life.

Each is remembered.

To each, I say thanks.

36.

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Filed under Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations

Grace

Waking, sleeping dreams,
alike haunted,
we stumble forward;
no need to look back,
we bear the past within us;
only by grace
can we escape.

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
22 December 2015

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Favorite Christmas songs

Lion and lamb

Each year, there are three songs I make a point of hearing several times during the Advent and Christmas season. While they may not appear on the list of classical Christmas carols or music, they speak of the hope and possibility and peace of the season.

Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon

The Rebel Jesus by Jackson Browne

Like the First Time It’s Christmas Time by Tommy Sands

What makes your list?

See you along the Trail.

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