Prayer for Omar

God, we pray for Omar,
denied his appeal for refugee status
with deportation orders to Senegal,
where he will be killed,
if not be others, by his family.

We pray for the Orange County
Gay and Lesbian Center
as they scramble to file an appeal
with the Ninth Circuit Court,
to stay the deportation.

Bless the paperwork,
bless the fragile web
of friends and strangers
surrounding Omar with prayers,
bless ICE to be, this time,

and bless those,
whose names we do not know.

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Remembering Shirley Erena Murray, revision

This is a re-done post. One of the hymns ascribed to her (of how many!!!!???) that I used was not hers and so — she has written so many — I re-wrote it. This is the new and usable version.

My friend Rosalie Sugrue wrote to me, “I have been to Shirley Erena Murray’s funeral at Kapiti Uniting Parish,” and I was stopped quiet. I knew about her stroke and about her husband’s death in 2017 and yet, if I was still singing her songs, surely, she was still writing her incredibly inclusive words. 


Then your voice remembers her

If you know …
Because you live, O Christ,
the spirit bird of hope is freed for flying,
our cages of despair
no longer keep us closed
and life-denying …

then someone taught you her song.

If you teach
in workshop, choir or campground —
to touch the earth lightly
and nourish the life
of the world in our care,

then you are a part of the greening,
the water that blesses,
the air that is sweet.

If you stand at a table
with tears running down your cheeks
because you were excluded
until people learned
that for everyone born —
everyone —
there’s a place at the table,

then you hear God echoing —
“justice, justice and joy.”

If your Advent pageant
includes not “Away in the Manger”
but “Away and in Danger”
the Carol of the Refugee Children

then at least one small child
is reaching out a hand
to welcome others
to the shores of their land.

If you start the singing
(after turning off the microphone)
“love changes life
from water to wine”
for a couple in their seventies,
trying it again,

silly rehearsals and grumbly guests
fade away
and you know what a wedding is.

If you recognize tunes from deepest needs
and symphonies and drums,
you are singing “For the Music of Creation,”
if you invite Christmas into “the here and the now,”
you are singing “No Obvious Angels,”
if you learn the word “Aotearoa”
it is probably paired with “Alleluia,”
or turns you “upside-down.”

if you — some Lenten morning —
ask someone to
“Come and find the quiet center
in the crowded life we lead,”
or on Pentecost, challenge the
… community of Christ
to “look past the church’s door …”

Then your voice remembers her —
the Star-woman,
who taught us
(when we were just trying to
have a sweet Bethlehem-moment)

to sing about street children,
beat children,
used children, hurt children,
spared children, spoiled children
grown children, lost children,

and woke up our hearts.

I used this fraction of her songs: Come and Find the Quiet Center, A Place at the Table, Star Child, Community of Christ, Touch the Earth Lightly, For the Music of Creation, No Obvious Angels, Come to a Wedding, Away and in Danger, Carol our Christmas, Because You Live, O Christ.

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Updating Shirley Erena Murray

Hi Friends,

I am re-writing this post this morning because one of the hymns ascribed to her in my hymnbook is actually Colin Gibson’s. Deep apologies. My fault — well, not mine exactly, but you see what I mean. This will be written and replaced today!  Maren

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Prayer for the Iowa Caucus

God of complicated galaxies,
intricate snowflakes,
the sweet definition
of every infant’s fingerprint,
give wisdom to the shifting grace,
of the Iowa caucus —

to words of neighbor and stranger,
first alignment and final one,
and a deep sense of community
across so many precincts
and new satellites.

Most of all, touch the hearts
of the quiet and the talkative,
of those who walk
and those who roll wheelchairs
to take a stand
choosing a new leader —

who will care for all people,
especially the vulnerable
and the marginalized,
who will protect creation
that sustains us and will nurture
children yet unborn,
and who will speak truth,
collaborate willingly,
and support civil discourse.

For we pray that the Iowa caucus,
the New Hampshire primary,
Super Tuesday,
and even the Convention to come
will require this country’s new leader —

to do justice, love kindness
and walk … or even roll, humbly
among all the peoples of the world.

(for Barb Stanerson and with love for my birth state of Iowa and thinking ahead to my current home in New Hampshire)

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Guest post — Larry Trent stories “When did I see you hungry?”

Larry Trent often writes short stories about his experiences — sometimes in Los Angeles, sometimes at his border ministry and sometimes visiting Mexico. This story took place in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico, and it comes with a visual.


Last night I was sitting at a sidewalk table eating my stuffed chicken breast in mole sauce. It was delicious, but too much of it (2 pieces plus rice). I started the meal with a bowl of Aztec Soup, so there was no way I was going to eat all of this.A little indigenous boy walked by and looked at me but kept walking.

I thought he was probably one of the walking vendedores selling something. But I didn’t see anything that he might be selling. He stopped walking and turned around staring at me and the food on my plate. I asked, “tienes hambre” ( are you hungry)? “Sí” was his reply. Do you want the rest of my mole? “Sí, señor”. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the waiter coming to run him off. I said, “ sit down and eat”. He sat in the chair beside me. I waved to the waiter to let him know I wanted the boy there. There was a small plate on the table that was for my bread. I put the chicken on that plate with lots of mole sauce. There were tortillas which they always bring and I never eat.

Miguel is 7 years old and lives in one of the villages close by. He is really tiny. I had to cut up the chicken for him. He really didn’t know how to use a knife. He ate it with the tortillas. As he was eating, I noticed a woman with four small children watching us. It was his Mother. She never came over to us. When he finished, he scampered across the street to his Mom yelling gracias over his shoulder. His Mom made a motion to me of folding her hands like she were praying and bringing her hands to her chest. I returned the gesture.

I don’t know why Miguel was walking in the plaza alone. Maybe Mom, who was selling things, simply could not keep up with him plus the other 4. One she was carrying on her back In a rebozo. It is not unusual to see children wandering through the plaza. Maybe even selling small items.

I am sure there is a sermon in there. “Lord, when did I see you hungry”?

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Through a glass dimly

(for Donna Knutson)
“Now I see through a glass dimly, but then face to face …” 1 Corinthians 13

Now I see through a glass dimly —
sometimes it is a church,
sometimes it is a friend reaching out,
sometimes it is my sense of vocation
turning that window
into slightly-cracked mirror,

honestly, sometimes it is
the warm fur of the dog in the evening,
the sound of morning birds,
the whisper of leaves on the trees,
or rattle of their winter branches,
the taste of coffee,
for knowing God comes
in many senses and surprises.

I am not face to face with God today,
not yet — and I am not rushing,

but I have this glass,
and it is more than half-full.
It also reminds me,

among so many other things —
as long as I live here,
I had better not throw stones.


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Prayer after the earthquake in Turkey

God, who is never the causer
of the earthquake
the wind, the wildfire,

but who is in them
deeply, wholly in them all,
our companion,
walking across the shaking earth
speaking from the epicenter
with your sustaining longed-for silence,
gathering those so afraid
to listen to the list of casualties,
and comforting those who mourn.

Hear the prayers of all the world
for Turkey – for Sivrice,
and for all of eastern Elazig province,
feeling and fearing aftershocks.

Comfort these families
in their losses,
and in the stress of evacuation.

Give strength
to emergency responders,
doctors and nurses,

and give compassion
to all who can help,
now in the times of danger
from structures collapsing.
and in days to come
for the rebuilding of lives.

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