Tag Archives: love

A prayer, September 11, 2021

Gracious God,
twenty years on
we remember.

We remember
your precious children killed in
New York
Washington, DC,
Shanksville.

We remember
your precious children killed in
Afghanistan
Iraq
and around the world.

We remember
death
wounded bodies
wounded spirits
wounded souls.

We remember
acts of terror
acts of valor
acts of violence
acts of peace.

We remember
fear
anger
hate
prejudice.

We remember
kindness
courage
grace
generosity.

We remember
people coming together to
reach out
weep
sing
embrace
care.

We remember
songs ended
songs gone
songs created
songs begun
songs lived
songs shared.

Remembering,
may we take bold, faith-filled, hopeful steps
to unlearn the ways of war and
turn to ways that might make peace between people;
to overcome fear of one another
and recognize the dignity and value of every person;
to seek understanding of suffering
and nurture the empathy needed to work to alleviate it; and
to walk the paths of love
that leads to peace and justice.

Remembering Jesus,
in response to your Holy Spirit,
we pray. Amen.

with thanks to Shannan Vance-Ocampo, Chris Shelton, leaders of the United Church of Christ and Come from Away

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

Resistance

“Resistance is the secret of joy,” writes Alice Walker (Possessing the Secret of Joy)

Perhaps, in a manner akin to a mathematical equation, the words could be reversed.
Perhaps, joy is a secret of resistance.

Joy is, at one and the same time, personal and communal.
Joy comes when communities and individuals are strengthened, nourished, sustained.
Joy comes when individuals and communities welcome and embrace one another in love.
Joy comes when communities and communities affirm all God’s children.
Joy comes when individuals and communities (including God’s whole creation) thrive.
Joy comes when communities and individuals experience well-being and wholeness.
Joy comes when individuals and communities love and practice kindness.
Joy comes when communities and individuals acknowledge evil and sin, repent, and seek repair, reparation, and justice.

To work for such joy is to reject the lies that we are made for enmity … the lies that we are made to “other” and fear and hate people from whom we differ … the lies that creation is ours to exploit … the lies of white supremacy and patriarchy and homophobia and all systems and structures of oppression.

To work for such joy is to resist.

“Resistance is the secret of joy.”

Joy is a secret of resistance.

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Filed under Books, Human Rights

15 months

You could never have imagined these past fifteen months.
You could not have planned for them.
But you faced them.
You adapted,
you improvised,
you learned,
you wept,
you laughed,
you cursed,
you resisted,
you persisted.
You found strength and love
and grace and hope undreamed of.
You made it this far
and you, awesome you,
will keep on going.

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Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends

Swamp oaks

Bare now,
soon to be leafed,
the four hundred
raise their branches
to remember
horror and hope
fear and courage
destruction and grace
and, in a place of death,
to proclaim love and life.

30 March 2021
Louisville, Kentucky

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Filed under Friends, New York

Modest question 1

What if … instead of owning AR-15s to protect ourselves in the event of a natural disaster (per Sen. Lindsay Graham) we worked to build a society in which we all took care of each other at all times including times of natural disaster?

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Filed under Current Events

Virtual prayer vigil

Joining, from afar, the ecumenical prayer vigil held on Sunday, March 21 in the parking lot of the Gold Massage Spa to honor the victims of the Atlanta shooting. This vigil was organized by Korean Central Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, St. Andrew Kim Catholic Church, Emmanuel Korean United Methodist Church, and Lutheran Church of Incarnation. Here are some prayers for the moment.

Christ have mercy.
We thank you for your beloved children whose
lives were taken too soon, too violently in Georgia.
Draw us together to work
against racism and racist violence against Asian Americans.

Christ have mercy.
Inspire us to see each person
in the wholeness you create;
inspire us to see each person
with your gaze of love;
inspire us to see and honor
your image in each person.

Christ have mercy.
Provide love and courage for those who fear
for their safety because of who they are.
Guide us to disrupt systems and practices
that lead to fear and to create a society
in which no one need be afraid.

Christ have mercy.
Grant rest and comfort and strength
to your children who are wearied
by resisting white supremacy.
Sear the consciences of
those who have accepted privilege without interrogation
those who responded with apathy,
those who have expected people who endure racism
to provide the answers and to do the work.
Move us to care for one another
by dismantling systems that wound and drain
your children, our family
and deny your justice and love to all.

Christ have mercy.
Lead us to learn our history –
the history of Asians in America and of Asian Americans –
the history of the violence too often
inflicted by white supremacy
on Asian nations and on Asians in this nation.
May our learning lead us to recognize wrongs done,
repent, and begin the journey to repair.

Christ have mercy.
Move us to demand that
elected representatives in our nation,
in each state and in every community
speak and work to end hate and violence
directed at the Asian American community.

Christ have mercy.
We have work to do.
So much work to do.
Search our hearts,
guide our feet,
hold our hands,
stand by us
as we do the needed work
to disrupt white supremacy
and dismantle the systemic racism
that impacts Asian Americans
and Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Prayer

A prayer for people in our lives

For those who live in faith,
for those who live in hope,
for those who live in love,
for those who do justice
and love kindness
and walk humbly with you,
for those whose living
melts the hardness of our hearts,
touches our souls,
and draws us closer to you,
we give you thanks, O God.
Amen.

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Filed under Friends, Prayer

You will know

Amid all the challenges these days bring, remember:
One day this pandemic will end 
and then you will know. 
One day you will know 
how brave you have been. 
One day you will know
how strong you have been. 
One day you will know 
how resilient you have been. 
One day you will know
how resourceful you have been. 
One day you will know 
how gracious you have been. 
One day you will know
how loving you have been
Each day be yourself
and one day you will know. 

1 March 2021
Louisville, Kentucky

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Filed under Current Events, Poem

Tonight We Remember

An Ash Wednesday sermon – February 17, 2021
preached at the First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Queens

Beloved people of God,
every year at Easter
we celebrate the new possibilities
God provides through the life, the death,
and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During Lent, we prepare for this celebration
and the renewal it brings to our lives.

For many years we have begun
Our Lenten journey with ashes,
often made by burning the palms from the year before.
Mixed with a little oil,
the ashes are traced on our foreheads
in the sign of a cross.

This year we physically distance
while we spiritually gather one Christ,
I, as the pastor, will not impose ashes.
If you have received ashes
in the congregation’s Lenten worship bag or
if you have gathered “loose dust” from in or around your home,
and you would like to use the dust or ash
to make the sign of the cross  
on your head or hand,
we will pause to allow you to do that.
We will take a minute of silence,
which my friend the Rev. Dr. Claudio Carvalhaes reminds us
is an eternity of silence for Presbyterians.
You may also decide to impose the sign of the cross
later in the service – when the sermon gets boring, for example.

Whether we impose the sign of the cross or not,
dust and ashes will play a role in our service.
I invite you to take the ashes you received
or the loose dust you have gathered.
If you have neither, image ashes and dust you have seen.
Look at them.
Consider them.
Think about one of their functions
in Ash Wednesday services.

Ashes, loose dust
jog our memories.
They help us remember what is;
they help us remember what will be.

Tonight we remember.

We remember our mortality.
From dust God makes us.
In the marvelous words of James Weldon Johnson:
Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
God kneeled down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth;
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till God shaped it in God’s own image;
Then into it God blew the breath of life,
And the human became a living soul.

We come from dust.
To dust we will return.
We are mortal. Limited. Finite.
One day our time on earth will end
our race will finish,
our part in God’s great story will close,
the final curtain will fall

and God will welcome us.

Tonight we remember.
We remember our need for repentance.
We remember how we fall short.
How we hurt one another.
How we tolerate social injustice.
How we wound God’s good creation.
How by our actions
and by our failures to act,
we break the heart of God.
We remember our need to turn and follow Jesus Christ
more faithfully this and every day.

Tonight we remember.
We remember those who have gone before us.
We remember people we knew and loved fiercely.
We remember people we never met but whose stories we have learned.
We remember people whose stories have never been told.
In this age of COVID-19, we remember countless people,
who have died from this pandemic.
We remember people killed by the state and racism.
People whose God-given breath was taken from them.
Whether we remember names or not,
we remember each person was and is a beloved child of God,

Tonight we remember.
the unending mercy of God,
the unbreakable grace of God,
the unflagging patience of God.
We remember the incredible love of God
who refuses to give up on us,
and who persistently awaits our return
eager to pour the Holy Spirit afresh upon us
that we might make a fresh start.

Tonight we remember.
that Lent is a time to give up.
Perhaps, like my friend the Rev. Gradye Parsons,
we make a supreme spiritual sacrifice
and give up kale.
More realistically, we seek to give up
that which truly separates and distracts us from God.

Tonight we remember.
that Lent is a time to stand up.
A time to
remove all yokes of injustice,
disrupt prejudice and systems of oppression,
feed the hungry,
clothe the naked,
visit the sick and the imprisoned
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted.
A time to:
raise the foundations of many generations
repair breaches
restore the streets.
Following Jesus, we stand up in Lent.
We stand up to love.

Tonight, my friend the Rev. Shawna Bowman reminds me,
that as we begin the Lenten journey
of repenting and turning back to God
of prayer and fasting
of commemorating Jesus’ journey to death – and beyond,
we remember.
We “are all made from the same dust
That busted forth at the birthplace of creation,
And [we] belong, In life and in death,
to the one who calls [us] beloved.
[We] belong to God.”
And whatever challenges life brings
and however we may fall short,
God, who raises Jesus from the dead,
will have the final word.
And God’s word will be a word of
love and
life and
hope and
joy.

Tonight we remember.
Thanks be to God.

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Filed under Easter, First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Lent

So, dusty

Friends –
we are dust.
But do you not know
have you not seen
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
All of creation
every blessed creature,
every amazing facet,
every wonderful human being
you and me and all of us,
made from dust by God.
Made from dust and beloved of God.
So Dusty, if I may call us each that.
Go Dusty,
go and live.
Go and love kindness.
Go and do justice.
Go and walk this Lenten journey humbly with God.
Know, Dusty, that
the love of God
the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the peace and fellowship of the Holy Spirit
are with us now and forever.
Amen.
17 February 2021
inspired by a blessing from Jan Richardson

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Filed under Lent, Poem, Prayer