Prayer for Pittsburgh

God of Grace, God of Mercy,

We pray today for the people
of the Tree of Life congregation
in Pittsburgh.

We pray for all those
who suffer from violence,
for those who grieve,
and for those who have died
because of a hatred that
has no point,
and makes no sense.

May they find comfort in
the knowledge of your love,
and healing in the support
of the community.

We ask forgiveness
for the ways in which
your word has been twisted
to support acts of evil.

Give us the courage
to challenge the evil rhetoric
that supports hatred and violence,
and to speak the truth boldly,
that your love, grace, and mercy
extend to all without limit.

May the love of your people do the same.

Amen

My Oklahoma Home

My latest song:

VERSE 1:

I-40 East, on a cloudy day,
Memphis up ahead, had to get away;
Had nothing in mind
Just looking for a place to roam.

Thought I could see, but I was dumb and blind;
Gave no thought to what I left behind,
The people that I love,
and my Oklahoma home.

CHORUS:

They say that heaven’s paved
With streets of gold,
There’s no more tears
Or so I’ve been told
No more pain,
And no one feels alone.

But by those streets
Where the children play,
I hope to find
just a little red clay
To remind me
Of my Oklahoma home.

Verse 2:

Mind starts to wander when you drive for miles,
You think about faces, remember the smiles,
And you realize you’re old,
But you’ve never ever really grown.

So you turn the car into the setting sun,
The journey goes on, but the running is done.
God help me back
To my Oklahoma home.

VERSE 3:

You can’t leave, even if you tried,
When you’ve got red dirt deep down inside,
No matter how much you wanted
To leave it alone.

When you’re running away to another town,
No road is straight, they all circle around,
Bringing you back
To your Oklahoma home.

BRIDGE:

Okemah up ahead, the tears are making me blind,
And I hear the voice of Woody deep inside my mind,

And It’s taken thirty years, but now I understand,
That these are my people, and this is my land,

And these Oklahoma hills will always be home.

Thurman on Christian Power

Too often the price exacted by society for security and respectability is that the Christian movement in its formal expression must be on the side of the strong against the weak. This is a matter of tremendous significance, for it reveals to what extent a religion that was born of a people acquainted with persecution and suffering has become the cornerstone of a civilization and of nations whose very position in modern life has too often been secured by a ruthless use of power applied to weak and defenseless peoples.

Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited, p.11.

Prayer for Labor Day

Father,

We pray for those who labor,

For those who are blessed
to do what they love,

For those who do what they must
in order to simply survive.

For those with hands as rough
as the son of a carpenter,

For those with backs as bent
as the one who bore a cross
through the streets of Jerusalem,

And for those who have been
shamed, despised and humiliated,
while serving at earthly tables,
patiently and humbly waiting
for a seat at the heavenly banquet.

Amen

An Ancient Christian Epitaph

Here rests C. Pompeius Trimalchio Maecenatianus. The rank of sexvir was given him in absentia. While he could have been a member of all the clubs in Rome, nevertheless he didn’t want to. Pious, strong, faithful, he rose from little, left behind three hundred sesterces, and never listened to a philosopher.

Benediction

In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky uses the slanting rays of the sun to represent the love of God that can flow through each of us, transforming lives as we interact with each other with genuine love.

Now, may the slanting rays of the sun
light the path before us,
as the love of God surrounds us,
to guide us on our journey.

May God guard our hearts
from anything that might separate us,
and shelter us all in his love, forever.

Amen

Pascal on Might and Right

On the birthday of Blaise Pascal, consider this wisdom from The Pensees:

Right is open to dispute, might is easily recognized and beyond dispute. Therefore right could not be made mighty because might challenged right, calling it unjust and itself claiming to be just. Being thus unable to make right into might, we have made might into right. (L 103)