We thank you God for your love,
your love that accompanies us even in hard times.
We thank you for those moments of grace
when we experienced the sharing of your good gifts,
and for those moments of grace
when we shared what you had given to us.
In the living of these days,
grant us the wisdom to seek help
when we stand in any form of need;
inspire us to act in love when
you have given us something to share when
our family, our friends, our neighbors stand in need.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tag Archives: grace
We thank you God for your love,
God of the ages,
grant us patience, courage, and grace;
grant us faith, hope, and love;
grant us all we need
for the living of our days
in the age of Covid-19.
I finished Arthur Ashe by Raymond Arsenault tonight. Here are several six word stories about Arthur Ashe. I will keep trying.
Days of glory,
days of grace.
Calm in storm,
gone too soon.
justice for injustice.
On the fourth anniversary of the horrific, terrorist attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston by an avowed white supremacist, I had the opportunity to view a new documentary Emanuel.
The event shattered lives and rocked Charleston and the nation. Emanuel powerfully weaves the history of race relations in Charleston, the significance and impact of Mother Emanuel Church, and the hope that somehow emerges in the aftermath.
Featuring intimate interviews with survivors and family members, Emanuel tells a poignant story of justice and faith, love and hate, and examines the healing power of forgiveness.
Emanuel is playing in theaters across the country for two nights – June 17 (tonight) and June 19 (Wednesday). See if it is playing near you and check it out.
After 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 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
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.
If remembered, relived violation
battered and bruised you this day;
and barely restrained belligerence
pierced your heart,
assailed your soul,
distressed your mind,
sapped your strength;
as day ends,
you are stronger than you imagine,
you are believed,
you are beloved.
Manhattan, New York
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
April 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.
“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.
The 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 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.
Waking, sleeping dreams,
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