Response to the shooting in Virginia

With prayers for those who were injured in today’s Congressional baseball practice and for unity across party, politics, race, faith, age, ability, orientation.

Take us out to this ball game.
Pitch us hope without hate.

Bat as colleagues, not partisans
share concessions, walk everyone home.

Remind the world we are one team –
playing the outfield’s no shame.

For the young, old,
and those who need care
makes our All of fame.

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49 Bells to Remember Pulse

Forty-Nine Bells

Let us ring one for tears, one for parents left,
one for lovers, one for siblings,
one for friends, one for friends never made.

Let us ring, and it is seven,
for the talents that will not be shared,
the music not sung, dinners not shared,
stories that will not be told,
the invention or the poem
which will not be.

Let us ring, and it is thirteen
for people who are afraid to go dancing,
for hatreds that are growing in secret,
for mental illness
which will not be treated
because of the selfishness of health care,
for ugliness wrapped in god-language,
for people who still think
their guns are more precious than neighbors,
and for even one person
who will not come out.

Let us ring and it is nineteen
for parentless children,
the empty spaces in pride parades,
for how Orlando
doesn’t mean Disney World 
to anyone older than twelve,
and Pulse doesn’t mean
I’m-still-alive-and-I-can-make-a-difference.
to most of us over sixty.

Let us ring twenty-five
because of grandmas,
twenty-six because of grandpas,
and twenty-seven
to include all the people
who brought flowers and signs
to the nightclub, wrote on facebook,
said a prayer.

For the smallest of bells begins
the ringing of hope.

Let us ring one bell for every word –
this will not happen again.

And ring – courage, hope, pride,
compassion, gun control,
the healing of hatred,
the easing of fears,
the commitment to change.

Let us ring and it is forty-one
for the future of Orlando,
for the possibility of love, all kinds of love,
for the claiming of identity –
all that discovering
of what it is to be human,
for the welcome in faith communities
where everyone is safe.

Let us ring a rainbow,
ring so we will always remember,
and ring tomorrow.

And I will ring a bell for you,
if you will ring a bell for me.

From the United Church of Christ. A year ago on June 12, 2016 on a Sunday morning many of us awakened to the reality that Latinx Night at Pulse Night Club, an LGBTQ+ community gathering spot… a sanctuary… a safe-haven… in the midst of Pride Celebration, had become the site of one of the worse mass shootings in US history. Many of us gathered afterwards to pray and grieve the 49 lives lost, the 53 wounded survivors and some of us, with difficulty found the energy to pray for the one lone individual who lost his connection to love.

This year Orlando, Florida is calling for a day of unity on June 12, 2017 dedicated to the lives lost at Pulse Orlando: “Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness.” There are many ways that the Orlando community will be actively engaged, but one way that we as communities of faith are being invited to participate is with the use of our church bells. We are invited to ring our church bells 49 times at noon (local time) on June 12, 2017. Faith communities who worship in a building without a bell can participate in this project by posting the number “49” on their signs.

Our bells have traditionally rung at moments of crisis alerting us of a community need. They toll after death and they toll when we celebrate. We the United Church of Christ are invited by Nancy Rosado of Somos Orlando, to respond to the request made by One Orlando Alliance on behalf of the many wailing mothers whose children were taken way too soon. They are asking our support in spreading love.

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Romans 8 for a situation with dementia …

A friend asked me to write about Alzheimers and this is what emerged:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ,
and the love of one another?
Will memory loss,
or confusion, or delirium, or swearing,
or wandering, or shaking, or tears?

No, in all these things we are human
and truly God loves us.

For we are convinced
that neither incontinence
nor forgetting how to get home,
nor sundowning,
nor sudden anger,

nor skills no longer present,
treasured stories no longer told,
concern with appearance or smell
no longer of importance,

nor fear of things to come,
nor impairment of sight,
nor failure in mobility,
nor needing help even to eat,

nor anything else in all vulnerability,
is able to separate us
in any true and real sense,
from the love of God in Christ Jesus
and, through that sustaining grace,
the love of those who hold us dear.

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A Story from Orange, California

Larry W. Trent tells the story…

Last night I was walking in downtown Orange Ca. (probably the most charming district in Southern California). I walked through the little roundabout park for a moment to take a photo. There was one bench in the shade at the moment with a vacant seat. I asked the man, who was reading a paperback book, whether I might join him.

He said, of course.

I wasn’t really expecting conversation, but he immediately asked how my day had been. I replied that my day had been great and inquired about his. The response was something like ” all my days are the same.” It was at that moment I noticed an overstuffed backpack and a small duffle bag at his side.

I didn’t want to ask if he were homeless — seemed a bit tacky. So, I asked what he meant by “all my days are the same.”

It was interesting. That question got him started telling me his life story. Occasionally I chimed in, but mostly I just let him talk. I learned that he has been homeless for about a year. He quit his decent job four years ago to take care of his mother who ultimately died from Alzheimer’s about a year ago.

He said ” When I was caring for my Mom, it was the first time In my life I ever felt any sense of self worth. When my Mom died I thought I was worthless. My life sunk to the pits of hell and I lost my apartment.”

We chatted for almost an hour on that bench. Mostly about homelessness, in general. I shared with him my volunteer work here in LA with the homeless. I now know all of the places that homeless can eat and shower in Orange.

It was getting dark and he said he needed to get to his camping spot by the river before it got dark. I thanked him for sharing his story with me and sharing a park bench with me.

His response, “no, thank you for listening. Most folks just ignore us.”

He left and I headed down the street for dinner. As I ordered my wine and meal, I couldn’t help but think what an unjust world we live in.

Tent city along the Santa Ana River where Ed lives

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Pity Party for the United States

Glad to be at Immigration Vigil at the Federal Building in Manchester, NH today — beautiful words, songs, prayers and silence. Thank you Eric Jackson for the Jericho Walk.I share this piece that I wrote, “Responsive Reading – Pity Party for the United States.”

For the amazing talents and boundless energies
that will not make this country richer,
unless we welcome new Americans,

We pity the United States.

For the mathematicians and the athletes,
for the musicians and the artists,
for the inventors and the poets
who will never share their gifts,
unless we welcome new Americans,

We pity the United States.

For remarkable restaurants,
for dances and costumes,
for traditions of faith, family and culture,
and even for new words,
that will not become part of our story,
unless we welcome new Americans,

We pity the United States.

For young men and women
who will not volunteer for the armed services,
unless we welcome new Americans,

We pity the United States.

For next year’s — Albert Einstein, John Muir,
Carlos Santana, Madeleine Albright,
Celia Cruz, Michael J. Fox, Sammy Souso,
Bob Marley, Audrey Hepburn, Irving Berlin,
Ieoh Ming Pei, Jospeh Pulizer, An Lee,
Mother Cabrini, Natalie Portman …
look to some other country,
unless we welcome new Americans,

We pity the United States.

For doctors who will not heal,
for gardeners who will not plant beauty,
for teachers in school
who will not open a window on the world,
for caregivers of elders
whose kind hands and patient listening
will not be there
to give joy in long, lonely days,
unless we welcome new Americans,

We pity the United States.

Unless this country becomes a place
of compassion,
we will not raise compassionate children.
Unless this country lights a beacon of justice,
we will walk in darkness.
Unless this country welcomes
people coming from every corner of the world
with their hands and hearts filled with gifts to share …
unless we welcome new Americans,

We pity the United States.

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For London, June 4, 2017

On London Bridge
there is falling down, falling down;
in Borough Market falling down
of lives and limbs and grieving.

But God has promised,
that no sparrow, no person,
no courage will fall to the ground
unknown, unloved,
even unsung by the soft voices
of tomorrow’s children.

So we build it up
with those who care,
those who hope, those who dare.
We build it up with unity
between all people.

Matthew 29: 10; seventeenth century rhyme

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A Prayer of Benediction for Pentecost from Argentina

A Prayer of Benediction for Pentecost by Gerardo Oberman

Que la generosidad de tu soplo de vida transforme nuestra vida y la plenifique.
Que la fuerza del viento de tu amor nos inunde y nos desborde.
Que el fuego de tu cálida presencia nos envuelva y nos reanime.
Que la llama ardiente de tu compañía ilumine y guíe nuestro andar.
Y que el abrazo solidario de tu Espíritu nos rodee y nos afirme la fe.
Amén.

(thanks to Katie Fiegenbaum for the translation!

May the generosity of your breath of life transform our life and fulfill it.
May the force of the wind of your love inundate us and overflow.
May the fire of your warm presence surround us and revive us.
May the burning flame of your company light up our path and guide us.
May the supportive hug of your Spirit surround us and affirm our faith.

Amen

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