29 Mar A Prayer and a Song
It’s been a tough week. Another school shooting has yielded more death, more lives forever altered, children and adults alike traumatized for years or decades to come. We are troubled by the loss of life, as we should be. We should also be troubled by what a regular part of American life these violent events have become. I have been struck by how diminished the national outrage has been in the aftermath of the Nashville shooting compared to the days after Sandy Hook. It seems as though we have become resigned to the inevitability of violence in our homes and schools and workplaces. Friends, we cannot go down that path. Resignation is not an option. Neither is despair. We are people of hope; people who champion justice even when the odds are stacked against us and progress is slow and marked by setbacks. Let us not forget who and whose we are and the ministry to which we have been called: to be peacemakers, comforters, encouragers, and reconcilers in this world.
On Sunday, we will physically and theologically embody the “both/and” of being Easter people in a Good Friday world. We will, like the ancient peoples of Jerusalem, wave our palm branches as a fitting welcome and celebration of Jesus the Messiah. Then we will hear the story of betrayal that turns that triumphal ride into a death march to the cross. We will end at the Lord’s Table, returning to a space of celebration, abundance, and joy. We will not avoid the violence and travesty of Good Friday, any more than we can avoid it in our modern lives. But that reality is placed in the context of God’s ever-present redeeming love which is always at work, no matter the circumstances.
As we prepare for the beginning of Holy Week, I leave you with a prayer and a song. The prayer is written by Presbyterian minister Theodore Loder. The song, “This Joy” is performed by the Resistance Revival Choir which follows the poet Toi Derricotte in believing that “Joy is an act of resistance.” My prayer is that these resources will help you anticipate Sunday and prepare for the week ahead.
Yours for the Kingdom,
Sometimes It Just Seems to Be Too Much
Sometimes, Lord, it just seems to be too much:
too much violence, too much fear; too much of demands and problems;
too much of broken dreams and broken lives; too much of war and slums and dying;
too much of greed and squishy fatness and the sounds of people devouring each other and the earth;
too much of stale routines and quarrels, unpaid bills and dead ends;
too much of words lobbed in to explode and leaving shredded hearts and lacerated souls;
too much of turned-away backs and yellow silence, red rage and the bitter taste of ashes in my mouth.
Sometimes the very air seems scorched by threats and rejection and decay until there is nothing but to inhale pain and exhale confusion.
Too much of darkness, Lord, too much of cruelty and selfishness and indifference…
Too much, Lord, too much, too bloody, bruising, brain-washing much.
Or is it too little,
too little of compassion,
too little of courage, of daring, of persistence, of sacrifice;
too little of music and laughter and celebration?
O God, make of me some nourishment for these starved times,
some food for my brothers and sisters who are hungry for gladness and hope,
that, being bread for them, I may also be fed and be full.