The Living Psalms Project of the United Church of Christ invites a team of writers to interpret and share the Psalm for the Revised Common Lectionary each week as it speaks to justice. Vahisha Hasan is the writer for this weekend — which in the United States is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
[To a Leader. Of Civil Rights. A Psalm.]
A Prayer for Freedom
1I patiently waited on that balcony Lord,
For you to hear my cry. You leaned in when I was murdered.
2And pulled me from this sunken place
full of segregated lunch counters and water hoses
You let me stand on the mountain top
With my marching feet firm
3And you gave Mahalia a new song,
“Take My Hand Precious Lord.”
Many saw the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,
And they honor and trust you, the liberating God.
4You bless all bodies who trust you, Lord,
And refuse to bow down to the idol of whiteness
Or follow manipulated whitewashed theologies.
5You, Lord God, have already brought our ancestors thus far on the way,
And you have the wildest dreams of our ancestors shadowed beneath your hand.
We let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies.
6Capitalistic production and nationalism are not what please you,
The blood of black bodies and the criminalization of poverty are not what you require.
7And so, I said, “We are God’s children. Our cry is the same, we want to be free.
Survival demands that we grapple…I have a dream.”
8Our freedom pleases you. We are going to march again.
Jim Crow laws are not your will. Your law is in my heart.
9When we worshipped together in Memphis,
You were there and heard me say,
“There is a certain kind of fire no amount of water can put out.”
10When your people gathered together and marched out of Clayborn Temple,
We did not remain silent in our message.
We said, “I Am A Man.”
11Do not, O Lord, withhold liberation from us in our lifetime;
Because you are faithful and merciful and your steadfast love keeps us
We know deep in our hearts, we believe deep in our hearts,
That We Shall Overcome. We Shall Overcome. We Shall Overcome Someday.
Vahisha Hasan M.A., Ed.S., M.Div.is a faith-rooted organizer working at the intersections of faith, social justice, and mental health. She is the Executive Director of Movement in Faith, a project of Transform Network. She is a public speaker, transformative facilitator, social justice trainer, minister, and writer with a deeply prophetic voice and imagination for how faith communities can be an active part of healing and collective liberation.
She is Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Applied Psychology at Memphis Center for Urban and Theological Studies (MCUTS) and seeks to integrate mental health in faith communities. Vahisha serves on the Executive Team of Memphis Coalition of Action and Hope (MICAH) as C0-chair of Training. She also serves as an associate minister at Christ Missionary Baptist Church, under Rev. Dr. Gina Stewart, Senior Pastor, where she was licensed and ordained June 23, 2019.
In addition to penning book reviews, journal articles, and online publications, she has published two editions of Resipiscence: A Lenten Devotional for Dismantling White Supremacy, 2018 and 2019. Most recently, Vahisha collaborated to launch miles of melanin, a travel fund for melanated artists and activists, inspired by the benefactors of the Harlem Renaissance authors and artists.
Vahisha is a friend of mine.