Pentecost 2020

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

They were together in their humiliation.
They were together in their grief.
They were together in their rage.
They were together in their humanity.

And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind…

A man bleeding, collapsing on the road.
A woman dying in her own apartment.
A man gasping that he couldn’t breathe.

And at this sound the crowd gathered…

They gathered to grieve.
They gathered to protest.
They gathered to demand.
They gathered to declare their humanity.

Amazed and astonished, [the crowd] asked…

They asked why you deserved this.
They asked for submission to violence.
They asked for time for the process.
They offered… nothing.

…In our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.

God made us children.
God made us adults.
God made us human.
God made us the equal of anyone.

All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

Do you have to ask?
If you have to ask,
how can you know?

But others sneered.

Oh, yes. We have heard this before.

But Peter… raised his voice and addressed them, “…This is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…'”

We will declare the justice of the Creator.
We will declare the injuries of the Created.
We will demand the justice of the order.
We will defy the structures of the racists.

May everyone who calls on the name of the LORD be saved.

A poem/prayer based on Acts 2:1-21, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year A, Pentecost Sunday.

The image is “Pentecost” by JESUS MAFA. Used by permission under Creative Commons Attribution/Noncommercial/ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Grant to Her

She just wants a home without gunfire.
She just wants a home without force.
She just wants a home without war at the door.
She just wants a home without war beneath the roof…

Grant to her justice, O God.
Grant to her justice
with the speed of the unjust judge.
Grant to her justice, O God,
for she waits.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 18:1-8, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 24.

The image is a section of a 19th century composition “The Parable of the Unjust Judge” found in the Palace of Facets, Moscow. Public Domain.

Mary’s Prayer

O Jesus, I can hear
the clatter of the crockery,
the puffing of the bellows,
the swirling of the aprons.

O Jesus, I can hear
the half-resentful voice
my sister raised to you;
I hear her dripping sweat.

And Jesus, I can hear the wailing
children, crying refugees,
groaning sufferers, weeping
hungry seekers after justice.

And Jesus, I can hear the silence:
Silence of the powerful.
Silence of the privileged.
Silence of the unjust judges.

What I strain to hear, sweet Jesus,
is your voice. I long to hear
the words of comfort, words of
challenge, words of love.

I long to hear the words
that will unbreak my heart
and melt it into Martha’s,
love showering in tears.

Hold me, Martha, as we weep
together for these words of hope.
I’ll tune my ears to hear your voice
declare your faith in life renewed.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 10:38-42, the Revised Common Lectionary alternate first reading for Year C, Proper 11.

The image is Russian; I regret that I cannot translate the attribution that follows: By Владимир Шелгунов – фотографии переданы представителем ИППО, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33504499

Tumbled

The Conversion of Saint Paul by Caravaggio

Strike me down, Jesus.
Strike me from my certainty.
Strike me from my patriarchy.
Strike me from my privilege.

Strike me down.

Strike me down, Jesus.
Strike me from my violence.
Strike me from my power.
Strike me from my rectitude.

Strike me down.

In the dust of the road,
With my eyes full of tears,
With my pride in its ashes:
Demand justice of me.

Strike me down.

A poem/prayer based on Acts 9:1-20, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Third Sunday of Easter.

The image is Conversione de San Paulo by Caravaggio,
Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome. Photo by Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44143233.

Holy Week 2019: Good Friday

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
– Isaiah 53:7-8a

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
– Luke 23:34

Silence, Jesus? Excuses, Jesus?
In truth, I want a louder Savior.
I want a firebrand, I want a chief.
I want a voice that echoes from the hills.

I do not want excuses.
I do not want a suffering servant
satisfied with our perverted justice,
consenting with your silence.

For heaven’s sake, shake the heavens!
For earth’s sake, rattle the earth!
For the oppressed’s sake, break the bonds!
For humanity’s sake, do something!

Don’t – don’t – make excuses.
Not for them. Not for us.
Not even – dare I say it?
Don’t make excuses for me.

I do not need excusing, Jesus.
No, I need forgiving.
Excuses will not change the world:
Repentance and forgiveness might.

Suffering Savior, keep your silence:
but do not keep your peace.
We who witness your great love
weep for your peace.

Photo by Eric Anderson