Hope

The Emperor shrinks.
His world is tight, walled in.
He is always shrinking,
every day a new closure.
The constricting pressure
squeezes his fear out into the world.
His darkness descends on them.

But followers of the Risen One
have seen the grave burst,
have seen the world enlarge,
light ever expanding into the darkness,
their hope radiating,
their world always opening, opening.

 

The rest of us

We are one,
all of us,
ends of the same wire thrumming,
all fingers of one hand,
needing each other.
What is this strange lurch within,
this weight of unease,
what is this ache of dread and sorrow,
this fire, this hope,
but the cry of the rest of us?
The imprisoned and detained,
the maimed, defamed and misnamed,
the faces on the other side of the wall,
they are not strangers at all,
but the rest of us.

What is it in us
that wants to cut off ourselves
from ourselves?
Only they can save us,
our own secret selves in the dark.
Their suffering and their energy is ours
when we take to the streets to find them,
when we tear down the walls
and unbind them.

Pray for those whose lives are broken
by our brokenness.
Pray, and reach out,
until we become each other,
and are whole.

 

Praying the beatitudes

You comfort me and snuggle me at first,
your blessings like a warm embrace,
a womb of sorts,
assurance of your peace and consolation
in poverty and mourning,
in hunger and powerlessness.
And then you stand me up
and put a hand on my back,
expecting purity of heart,
still hungering for justice.
And you usher me out the door
to be merciful among the unmerciful,
a peacemaker amidst violence,
knowing it gets worse,
accepting persecution.
This is what it is, this birthing,
to do justice, love mercy
and walk humbly with you,
out of the softness into the street,
all the while trusting you
and thanking you for your blessing,
your blessing,
your blessing.

 

I will stand

         

Beloved, by your grace
I willingly accept my poverty of spirit;
         for you bless me with your Realm of love.

I honestly mourn,
         for you bless me with your comfort.

I will be gentle,
          for you bless me with the gift of the earth.

I continue to hunger and thirst for you,
         for you fill me with yourself.

I will show mercy,
         for you shower me with mercy.

I seek to be pure in heart,
         that I may see you.

I will be your peacemaker,
         for I am your child.

I will accept persecution
          for you bless me with your Realm of grace.

I gladly accept that justice and peacemaking
        attract persecution and resistance,     
        for so people treat all those
        who do justice, who love kindness,
        who walk humbly with you.

In my poverty I will stand unbowed,
         for in your grace you bless me.

 

Do justice

         What does the Holy One ask of you,
         but to do justice, to love kindness,
         and to walk humbly with your God?

                           —Micah 6.8

Somewhere, nearer to you than you think,
is a man on death row who does not want special favor;
he only wants to to justice, to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with his God.

Somewhere, nearer to you than you think,
is a trans woman of color who does not want special favor;
she only wants her gifts to be appreciated,
and to be able to be kind without fear,
and to walk in peace.

Somewhere, nearer to you than you think,
are refugees who do not want special favor;
they only want to be able to contribute,
to receive kindness, and to be faithful to their God.

Somewhere, nearer to you than you think,
is a girl who has been trafficked and abused,
who does not want special favor;
she only wants to know her power, and her loveliness,
and her partnership with God.

And what does God want of you
for the sake of these God’s beloved?
What can you do for their sake but to do justice
that will be more bold that you have thought,
to love kindness that will be more challenging,
to walk more humbly that you expected, for their sake.

 

All but you

         Blessed are the poor in spirit,
                  for theirs is the realm of heaven.
         Blessed are those who mourn,
                  for they will be comforted.
         Blessed are the gentle,
                  for they will inherit the earth.
         Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
                  for they will be filled.
                             —
Matthew 5.3-6   

God, I let go of all but you.
         Help me let go of all but you.

I trust your grace alone,
         not wealth, power or happiness,
to give me life, to hold me with love,
          to bless me.

I let go of all but you.
         Help me let go of all but you.

Give me grace to trust you,
         deeply, freely, wholly.

Give me eyes to see your blessing
         that stands like a rock
         in the winds of circumstance, that pours like sunlight
         no matter my deserving.

I let go of all but you.
         Help me let go of all but you.

 

March on

We marched.

For women, for peace and freedom and justice,
a hundred seventy five thousand strong in Boston,
joined in umbilical hope with millions more, we marched.
We marched to say we won’t look away from injustice,
to say we will not exclude or demean anyone, that justice is for all.
We marched to pledge ourselves to live gently but out loud,
to live with love and reverence, to heal and bless,
to include the outcast and lift up the downtrodden,
to speak truth, to work for justice and to be people of peace.
We marched in resolute hope, not anger.
We marched in wonder and gratitude for the power God gives us
to resist evil, to love our neighbor and heal the world.
We marched to surround ourselves with joy, beauty and hope.
It was not a protest; it was an affirmation.

Too far from the stage to see or hear, we cheered for the cheering.
Packed like crayons in a box, unable to move, no one became inpatient.
Calm, positive and kind, we simply basked in creativity and good will,
and enjoyed our diversity, unity and comradeship.
Yet underneath the happiness was a fierce resolve and resilience.
There was a clear knowledge that we are facing a great evil.
And there was awareness of our indomitable strength:
that we are given power to resist evil. It was the Reign of God.

Now we know. We are awake. We are not alone.
We have each other. We have hope. We have power.

From this day on you can wear a pink knitted hat.
You can carry a sign. Or you can be a sign, a sign God carries into the world,
a sign of justice and freedom and healing.
Your life can be a joyful affirmation that even among fearful forces God is at work. We are not alone.

In your vast crowd, in your little parade of one,
we are together in this.
Don’t be afraid. Don’t give up.
March on!

 

Inauguration

Dearly Beloved, Grace and peace to you.

Today, God, you create me anew;
today I inaugurate a new life.
By the power invested in me by the Holy Spirit
I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute
your call in my life, and will to the best of my ability
uphold your commandments.
I will act with love and gentleness,
with reverence and forgiveness toward all people.
I will practice humility, generosity and truthfulness.
I will honor and delight in the diversity of the human family,
respecting the true unity of all people
and the oneness and sacred worth of all living things.
I pledge to live, speak and act for justice and peace.
I accept the power you give me
to resist evil, injustice and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves.
I will stand against all violence, disrespect and bullying.
I will speak out against meanness,
give voice to those who are silenced,
and include those who are outcast.
I acknowledge that I shine with your light, O God,
that my life is not mine but yours.
This day I pledge to do your will, not mine,
for your sake and the sake of the healing of the world.
I understand that this pledge
will often set me against my culture,
and that the culture will resist me.
With your help and those of like mind and heart,
I will persevere. I give you thanks.
I ask your blessing. I trust your grace.
Amen.

Calling

         Jesus said to them, “Follow me,
         and I will make you fish for people.”
         Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

                         —Matthew 4.19-20

Sometimes the call comes straight from the Master.
You hear his voice over the shorebirds’ cries,
the shuffling of the water.
And sometimes it comes from elsewhere.
Something makes you wonder.
That’s him.
Or a beauty lifts you, just a bit, out of yourself.
Or something awakens your courage,
or trust that has slept like a seed.
Or you hear a cry of need and you’re moved,
and you find yourself offering
what you didn’t know you had.
Don’t even try to explain the coincidence.
If you listen with the ears of heaven
there is nothing that is not the Beloved calling to you,
nothing.

Listen.

Embedded call

         Jesus said to them, “Follow me,
         and I will make you fish for people.”
         Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

                           —Matthew 4.19-20

When evil steps up to the podium
you may hear the voice of Satan,
or at least the oil slick of his press secretary,
but listen beneath.
The bubble is burst.
You can’t sit this out.
Justice won’t come about without you.
You are needed.
The world needs people of peace,
needs people of gentle courage
and quiet, immovable wisdom.
Sometimes the clang of the hammer of oppression,
the grinding of a machine that eats people,
terrible as it is, however dreadful the mood,
daunting the prospects,
is your awakening. Give thanks.
It is the voice of Christ saying,
“You.
Now.
I need you.”