A Musical Prayer

On November 13, 2016, Church of the Holy Cross UCC celebrated “Sing Praise Sunday,” a service with very little speaking and plenty of music. Children sang, the choirs sang, the people sang (their favorite hymns, so they sang right out!), and the pastor couldn’t quite see speaking a pastoral prayer, so, there was this:

 

Here are the lyrics:

Creator God be with us.
Send us rain and shine upon us all.
In steadfast love incline our hearts to justice.
Raise us when our weary spirits fall.
Raise us when our weary spirits fall.

Savior Christ be with us.
Heal all those suffer, those who sigh.
Forgive us when we serve ourselves, not justice.
Raise us to eternal life on high.
Raise us to eternal life on high.

(Chorus)

God, hear our prayer.
Christ, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, hear our prayer.
Bring your grace
To your world.

Holy Spirit be with us.
Guide us as we find our way.
Fill us with the fire of your compassion.
Inspire your children as we pray.
Inspire your children as we pray.

(Chorus, repeat third verse)

I Wish…

IMG_1082I wish I had words to express my sorrow.
I do not.

I wish I had words to express my anger.
I do not.

I wish I had words to persuade the world.
I do not.

Only tears gathering at the corners of my eyes,
Tears insufficient to cleanse the bloodied shirts
Which could not shield the ebon bodies
Desecrated by lead.

I wish I had words to speak the bullets back to the chamber,
The fingers off of the triggers,
The guns back into the holsters,
The fear out of the hearts,
The aggression out of the speech.
I do not.

I wish I had words so all the world would know
And act as if it knew
That #blacklivesmatter.

But I do not.

In anger and in sorrow at the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile.

Say Their Names

Say their names.

It was Saturday night in Orlando.
The night was filled with dancing,
Music whirling bodies merrily about the floor,
Laughing with loved ones
In common sanctuary,
When Death arrived, spinning bullets
Striking spinning dancers to the stone.
Rainbow festival yielded to one color, crimson.
Their names, accented with the Spanish
Of Caribbean islands or of South
American towns, spill haltingly
From my awkward tongue,
Because my voice is choked
With tears.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Cory James Connell, 21
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Kimberly Morris, 37
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

As their friends and families mourn their murders,
Say their names.

IMG_1066

A Tuesday Morning’s Dialogue of Twitter Prayers

 
This series of brief prayers was born on Twitter in an impromptu conversation between the amazing Rachel Hackenberg and myself. When I saw the first one, it sparked the second, and to my delight she replied with the third. For a few minutes, as we each prepared ourselves for the day, we exchanged these poems 140 characters at a time.

She has very kindly given me permission to collect and publish them here. But make sure to visit RachelHackenberg.com regularly and benefit from her words and wisdom!

Rev. Hackenberg’s poems are indented to the left; mine to the right.
 
If a star can shine
beyond its extinction,
surely I can manage
to rise and shine
through my weariness.
 
Help, God.
 
 
 
If the tiny monarch’s
Cloak of salmon and sable
Can float it across the miles
Perhaps even I can fly. 
 
Help me, God.
 
 
 
If a song can sway the air
and pierce the heart until
the trees dream of love,
maybe I too can dance. 
 
Help me, God.
 
 
 
If an insubstantial thought
Can leap the miles
Flutter the heart 
Open the eyes
Maybe even I can hope. 
 
Help me, God.
 
 
 
And if there is hope,
then at last the moon
can sigh and melt, and
the sun can bleed with life.
 
God, help.
 
 
 
And if there is life,
Then sun and moon and tears of clouds
Can rain upon the earth
To call forth wild growth. 
 
God, help.

Courage in the Candle

I’ve been asked (okay, by only one person) to post the lyrics to this song, so here they are. The song was written on Sunday, December 16, two days after a gunman slew his mother, six educators, and twenty first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, before taking his own life. The recording comes from a prayer service held December 16th at First Church of Christ Congregational UCC in Glastonbury, CT.

Courage in the Candle
by Eric Anderson

Our voices rise up as from Ramah.
Oh God, from where will comfort come?
Rachel cries out for her children
Who will not be coming home.
We wait and hear only of horrors
And we ask how once again
This violence erupts among us
Leaving anguish, grief, and pain.

(Chorus)
Into the shadows Bear a candle
A tiny spark Against the night
Into the sorrows Of an uncertain world
Raise the promise of your light.

Though the cause of evil prosper
Yet ‘tis love alone is strong
Though innocence is placed in danger
And power exercised for wrong
God is waiting in the shadows
Where human grief and sin shall cease
A holy light shines in the darkness
And heaven’s children find their peace.

(Chorus)

I will not accept the darkness
As my predestined home of woe
I will not despair of loving
Although its losing grieves me so.
I will take courage in the candle
And hold its flame before the night
Where God is waiting in the shadows
Together, we will shine with heaven’s light.

(Chorus)

This song copyright 2012 by Eric Anderson