A prayer for MLK day

 

Martin Luther King Jr. 



Some of us are old enough to remember

      the balcony in Memphis,

      the sanitation workers’ strike,

      the shot that broke flesh,

      the loss of Martin,

            and then the mule-drawn wagon,

                          and the funeral,

            and the riots, the violence, the fear,

                          and the failure.

All of us know the crowd in D.C.

     and “I Have a Dream,”

     the Birmingham jail,

     the broad stream of violence, 

       and his steadfast nonviolence

                      in Albany and 

                      in Skokie and 

                      in Selma.

All of know his awesome, daring speech, 

     his bravery, his hope, and his generative word.

And we know the relentlessness of our government

     in pursuit of him

    and the endless surveillance and harassment 

                           of this drum major for justice.

At this distance, we have little access

     to how it was then concerning ambiguity

              and fear

              and reluctance

              and violence

              and injustice.

We do not doubt that you have persisted

     even beyond Martin’s passion,

     even beyond Martin’s brilliance,

     even beyond Martin’s fidelity, and

                         his loss.

We do not doubt that through him and beyond him,

     you, holy God of the prophets,

          are still pledged to justice and

                                      peace and 

                                      liberty for all.

We remember Martin in gratitude…

                      and chagrin.

And we pledge, amid our stressed ambiguities,

              to dream as he did,

              to walk the walk

              and to talk the talk of your coming kingdom.

We pledge, so sure that your truth

    will not stop its march

        until your will is done on earth as it is in heaven. 

From Prayers for a Privileged People ~ Walter Brueggemann

The high price of crossing

“Pati has never told her daughter what happened to her…”

‘-Which, you know, I get. I mean, that is a hell of a conversation to have with your 14-year-old daughter.’

“Yeah. It’s also a hell of a conversation not to have…”

Three Easter Word Pictures

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Easter…

“It is the theme of the divine party again, the party that lurks beneath the surface of history and calls only for a recognition by faith.  It is the fatted calf served up for a prodigal who did nothing but come home in faith.  It is the free champagne and caviar for wedding guest who did nothing but trust the king’s insistence on providing fancy costumes and party hats.  It is the full pay for next-to-no-work-at-all given to grape pickers who just said yes to a last-minute promise.  The only reason that judgment comes into it at all is the sad fact that there will always be dummies who refuse to trust a good thing when it’s handed to them on a platter.  That is indeed a grim prospect.  And it is grim because if we have any knowledge of our own intractable stupidity, we know that those dummies could just as well be ourselves.  But for all that, it is still about joy rather than fear…  The history of salvation is slapstick all the way, right up to and including the end…”

Robert Capon ~ Kingdom, Grace, and Judgement

—–

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

 Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry 

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—–

An Easter Sermon
St. John Chrysostom

…First and last alike, receive your reward.
Rich and poor, rejoice together!

Conscientious and lazy, celebrate the day!
You who have kept the fast, and you who have not,
rejoice, this day, for the table is bountifully spread!

Feast royally, for the calf is fatted.
Let no one go away hungry.

Partake, all, of the banquet of faith.
Enjoy the bounty of the Lord’s goodness!

Let no one grieve being poor,
for the universal reign has been revealed.

Let no one lament persistent failings,
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death,
for the death of our Savior has set us free…


The Easter sermon of John Chrysostom (circa 400 AD)

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One side of the coin

Some days I leave work, and my only response to humanity as a whole (or, more specifically, that subset who take advantage of their power and privilege to do violence with impunity) is in line with what Roy here says below:

As I was driving home tonight, I remembered the corollary to the above statement made by the southern theologian Will Campbell when he was asked to define what Christianity meant to him, and he responded, “We’re all bastards but God loves us anyway…”

It doesn’t make the anger go away, or make everything all better…  The problem is still there.  But I’m no longer alone in it.  And neither are the girls…

People are bastards.  Men are bastards.  But God loves us anyway

A Prayer for Super Bowl Sunday

Today is the day on which people in the U.S. consume more food and alcohol than on any day except Thanksgiving. Celebration. Getting together with friends. Being reminded of all that unites us and draws us together… Embracing commercials and commercialism. Bread and circuses are entertaining, and fill you for a little while.

And yet…

Today in Syria the bombs still fall.

And today in Guatemala… the maras.

And today in Yemen… drone strikes.

And today in Nigeria… Boko Haram.

And today in New York City… #blacklivesmatter

And today in Paris… the 19th arrondissement.

And today in Englewood… Hamilton Park.

And today in Kolkata… Songachi.

And today in Rio… Complexo do Alemao.

And today in Freetown… Kroo Bay.

And today in my neighborhood…

Alcohol abuse. Violence against women. Isolation. Systemic violence. Oppression. Marginalization. Oppression. Depression. The search for meaning. Hopelessness. Apathy. Exhaustion.

And into this world we wade – committed to doing the hard work of love, of forgiveness, of reconciliation, of listening, of sharing, of connecting, of reaching out, of listening to those we want to ignore, of avoiding simplistic narratives and attempts to other…

“There is something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.” ~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We look for beauty. We notice the image of God in all people. And we search for God in all things. In the darkness… and in the spotlights… with trust that if we keep looking for God, God will find us. And maybe we will find that God has already found us, even before the looking began.

A Prayer for Super Bowl Sunday
~ Walter Brueggemann

The world of fast money,
and loud talk,
and much hype is upon us.
We praise huge men whose names will linger only briefly.

We will eat and drink,
and gamble and laugh,
and cheer and hiss,
and marvel and then yawn.

We show up, most of us, for such a circus,
and such an indulgence.
Loud clashing bodies,
violence within rules,
and money and merchandise and music.

And you – today like every day –
you govern and watch and summon;
you glad when there is joy in the earth,
But you notice our liturgies of disregard and
our litanies of selves made too big,
our fascination with machismo power,
and lust for bodies and for big bucks.

And around you gather today, as every day,
elsewhere uninvited, but noticed by you,
those disabled and gone feeble,
those alone and failed,
those uninvited and shamed.
And you whose gift is more than “super,”
overflowing, abundant, adequate, all sufficient.

The day of preoccupation with creature comforts writ large.
We pause to be mindful of our creatureliness,
our commonality with all that is small and vulnerable exposed,
your creatures called to obedience and praise.

Give us some distance from the noise,
some reserve about the loud success of the day,
that we may remember that our life consists
not in things we consume
but in neighbors we embrace.

Be our good neighbor that we may practice
your neighborly generosity all through our needy neighborhood.

Miscellany

So it’s been seven weeks since I returned from Spain and the Camino.

And make that almost seven weeks since my last fearful post on here about how to incorporate what I learned/experienced on the Camino into my life here in Chicago.

I’ve realized I don’t have to know what it looks like. I don’t have to know how the story ends. I don’t have to know how the pieces fit in the puzzle. I don’t have to have it all figured out.

When I was walking across the meseta in central Spain, wheat fields meandering towards the horizons on both sides as I crawled under an azure dome pocked by clouds that were few and far between, I didn’t need to know where I was staying that night. I didn’t need to know where I would sleep tomorrow. I would be ok. Everything’s gonna be alright

—–

There are days I am nigh overwhelmed by the brokenness in the world.  There are refugee crises, and sickness, and violence.  The weight is huge.  And I am reminded of it daily as I sit in the pain and fear of the boys and girls who I work with have fled violence, destruction, and death.  I sit in it now.  And it is heavy.

We kick at the darkness, and hope that one day it will bleed daylight…  But we keep kicking.  One starfish at a time.  And we keep jumping, even if we’re not entirely sure how deep the water will be…

http://bmiller.wordpress.com/2008/05/14/bleeding-daylight/

—–

And sometimes when the darkness draws in close, it doesn’t take all that much to drive it back.  Sushi and an old Rasputin.  Friend talks and laughter.  Music and poetry.  And reminders of truth and beauty from Richard Capon as he plays with language and metaphor, meaning and mystery:

Might it not be, then, that it is by bearing for love the uncertainty of what we are to do that we come closest to his (God’s) deepest will for us?  In our fuss to succeed, to get a good grade on the series of tests we think he has proposed, we miss the main point of the affair: that we already are the beloved.  We long ago wound God’s clock for good…

It is our thirst for success and our fear of the freedom which he wills for us that keep us the poor lovers we are.  If the cross teaches us anything, it should be that the cup doesn’t pass from us, and that agony, bloody sweat, and the pain of being forsaken on a dark afternoon are the true marks of having said, Thy Will Be Done.  He is no less lost in this affair than we are.  What really matters for us both, though, is not the lostness, not the doubt, not the fragile, mortgaged substance of our house – only the love as strong as death which has set us as a seal upon each other’s hearts.

This is me learning to show up.  This is me, embracing love.  This is me, realizing that its ok to give up on my quest for certainty, for answers, for control.  What you find in the process is life – and life to the full.  This is me embracing the questions.

It feels good to be back…