We are all Baltimore, again today (Elijah Cummings, 1951-2019)

All of us who do not live in Baltimore
the 7th congressional district
maligned and mis-tweeted
that Elijah Cummings loved,

all of us who are not
congresswomen of color
whom Elijah Cummings defended,
all of us who did not grow up
targeted by the racism
that Elijah Cummings experienced —

we are still the mourners,

of the truth-teller,
no matter what the truth opened,

of the mediator between sides,
between parties, between
those who fought,

of the hope-giver,
and the man we’ll always remember
walking through the streets
after the funeral of Freddie Gray,
after the national tragedy
that was the death of Freddie Gray
singing, “This Little Light of Mine.”

All of us
who do not live in Baltimore
can still pick up his light,
hold it high and honor his memory
by promising him
that it will continue to shine.

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Creation Litany — Guest Post by Martha Peck

Season of Creation Litany based on Ecclesiastes 3

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.

God, we face so many choices, and we feel pulled in every direction. Be with us in our confusion and our fear, our celebration and our hope.

A time to be born and a time to die…

Help us to do all we can in the time we have, and to accept our mortal limits.

A time to plant and time to pluck up what is planted…

Move us– to plant community gardens and urban green spaces, and then to share our harvest and our delight with open hands and glad hearts.

A time to kill and a time to heal….

Kill in us, the restlessness that leads to overconsumption. Ground us in your love,and then extend your healing through us to the earth and all beings.

A time to break down and a time to build up…

God of justice, help us to break down border walls, and the evils of racism, along with business practices that value profits over people. Help us to build up solar and wind farms, along with the public virtues of empathy, compassion and generosity.

A time to weep and a time to laugh…

Holy one, we weep for the marvelous species going or gone extinct. We weep for bleached coral and scarce honeybees, for birds no longer singing, for islands soon to be underwater. Still, we laugh– at babies babbling, at lambs leaping on all four legs, at dandelions growing through a crack in the pavement, at jokes that reveal human foibles. We laugh at life’s absurdity and surprises.

A time to mourn and a time to dance….

We mourn the loss of civility in public and private discourse. We mourn the plight of refugees and stateless persons adrift in a cruel world, with no place to call home. And we dance… because we have bodies and despite it all, music stirs our souls.

A time to seek and a time to lose… A time to keep and a time to throw away

Holy One, move us to seek the common good, and to throw away our personal privilege and our horde of excess possessions. May we keep what gives life to us, and lose what distracts us from joy. May we keep faith with creation, and lose our idea that your world is ours to waste and deplete.

A time to tear and a time to sew.

Knitter of the universe, help us to unravel systems that trap people in poverty and despair. Work with us to sew a new fabric, beautiful and strong, woven of every living thing, and able to cover the whole earth with your love.

A time to keep silence and a time to speak…

God of midnight wonder, move in us while we sleep, and when we listen for you in silence. God of shout and challenge, speak through us when we join a climate march, or write a letter, or explain our choices to consume less and share more.

A time for love and time for hate, and time for war and a time for peace….

Spirit, breath beneath all that is, may we love all your creation, from the tiniest ant to the most distant star. May we hate anything that breaks the sacred thread holding it all together. May we find allies in the war against poverty, greed, and torture. May we fight to end the poisoning of air, water and land.

And at the same time, with equal passion, may we lift up and celebrate everything that integrates human need and God’s good earth. May we practice shalom, wholeness, peace, in our hearts, our families, our church, our city, our world.

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.

In seasons of growth and busyness, let us channel green energy and right purpose. Bless us with the ability to be your partners in creating something new.

In seasons of fallow quiet, let us trust that you work among us. Bless us in those times when you are unseen but never absent.

In seasons of darkness and cold, let us sit by the fire. Bless us, as we remember the light always returns, and meanwhile, we can plan and pray.

In seasons of abundance, let us eat tomatoes and rejoice. Bless us as we gather fruits of abundance and redistribute them for our shared hunger.

To everything there is a season.

Blessed be all the seasons of the earth, and all the seasons of our lives. Amen

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

 

 

I turn to Richard Bott, Moderator of the United Church of Canada for words to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving.

This is also his photograph. The colors at the bottom designate political parties. 

I believe in Canada.

A community of communities
made up of a myriad
of peoples.

I believe in Canada.

Resource workers,
office workers,
labourers and health care professionals,
teachers and preachers,
parents and grands,
farmers and fishers and
people who do work
that I would *never* begin to understand.

I believe in Canada.

Niqab, hijab,
jacket or jeans,
jingle dress, crop top,
whatever it means;
business casual,
uniform,
or as wild as you can be…
it’s the person inside
that I want to greet.

And I know that that person
is my neighbour.
I know that that person
is friend. Not foe.
I know because…

I
believe
in
Canada.

I believe that a little bit of all of our work
goes a long way to share with those in need –
children, adults, seniors, whoever –
universal health care,
breakfast programs,
an umbrella of hope.

I believe that Truth and Reconciliation
is not just a slogan,
but a promise to build and live
in right relationship
with the First Nations and the First Peoples
from sea, to sea, to frozen sea.

I believe that we are people
who know how to open our doors
(and leave them unlocked)
how to invite others to our tables
(and make them family)
whatever and whoever they are.

I believe in Canada.

So I will protest when I need to.
I will challenge those
we’ve called to be our leaders.
I will work, in cooperation,
for the betterment
not only of all people,
but for all the inhabitants
of earth, air and sea.

And I will exercise my right
and my responsibility –
Orange or Green, Red, Blue or Bloc,
partied or independent…
and make my mark
on this nation.

Because I believe in Canada.

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For Karl Barth

I am reading my newsfeed
and 1 Samuel pokes its way through —
not today
the part about the sociopath
throwing spears at supporters —

no, I am thinking about
Kurds, on the one hand,
and Saudis, on the other oil,

and how these days
our country never, never, never
takes the side
of the five smooth stones,

and I finally understand
how psalms of lament came to be.

“Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” — Karl Barth

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Guest Post — William Dean on the story about the ten people with leprosy

Here is William Dean’s poem based on this week’s lectionary writing from the gospel of Luke from his book The House Blend,” 2008.

THE ROAD THROUGH NO-MAN’S LAND

Ten men united by dis-ease,
suffering both leprosy and
social rejection, bound together
by mutual repulsiveness,
inhabitants of no-man’s land.
Society, bound in its fear
of dread disease, convinced
of curse and sin, wallows,
in ambivalence, condemns
the hapless, piously
taking God’s name in vain.
One man, on a journey toward
his own rejection, penetrates
the impenetrable, crosses
into the “bad lands,”
mixes with the lowly
in the name of the most high.
Ten men, sent for examination
healed as they pass along the road.
Nine go, who knows where?
One, sensing unfinished business,
returns in thanksgiving,
departs in wholeness.
One man on his way to a cross
heals ten men with no destination.
One man gives thanks, receives life.
It all happened along the way;
in a place called “no-man’s land,”
that place of desolation
where dwells the kingdom of God.

Image by 王 辉 from Pixabay

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The consistency of America

I have known many Kurds
in English language learning classes,
and always the first thing learned
is how to describe the beauty
and their love
for their homeland.

I visited Turkey briefly —
to walk in the ruins of Ephesus
and climb to Mary’s house,
the traditional refuge
built by the disciple John,
where pilgrims come
and place prayers in a long wall.

Not much experience, I admit,
to comment on
the movement of troops,

based on a promise made
to people completely different
a long time ago
by someone who prides himself
in breaking his word,
gumby always in the moment.

It is, however, the consistency
of America —
for we have become known
as a people who care little
for sheltering
all the mothers of God,
and are indifferent
to the ruins left in our wake.

(photo prayers at Mary’s house)

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The story

I’m preaching a sermon
and I say —

this is a little story
and maybe it happened
to the person who told it to me,
or maybe she plucked it
from the Internet.

I don’t care as much
about its facticity or provenance,
as whether
it opens a door in the heart,

but I care more than in the past,
for now I live in a time of lies
and telling stories —
my small and gentle art —
has been stolen by bullies.

There are so very many things
I am no longer sure of —
any hopeful story

and whether this poem
is a confession,
truth in advertising,
or a prayer for illumination.

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