Poverty, Diversity and Justice

In one of my favorite Ted Talks, Educational Technology Specialist Sugata Mitra discusses his experiments with “Hole in the Wall” computers. These are computer kiosks left in Indian slums, among children with no prior contact with PCs. Mitra found that children, by pooling their knowledge and resources, learned how to operate the computers.

Chesterton Orthodoxy

In one of my favorite Ted Talks, Educational Technology Specialist Sugata Mitra discusses his experiments with “Hole in the Wall” computers. These are computer kiosks left in Indian slums, among children with no prior contact with PCs. Mitra found that children, by pooling their knowledge and resources, learned how to operate the computers.

Skin of the City

In one of my favorite Ted Talks, Educational Technology Specialist Sugata Mitra discusses his experiments with “Hole in the Wall” computers. These are computer kiosks left in Indian slums, among children with no prior contact with PCs. Mitra found that children, by pooling their knowledge and resources, learned how to operate the computers.

Asking the Beautiful Question

Joel Van Dyke and Kris Rocke, The Conversation for April 2010

 

The psalmist asks, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Ps. 137:4). It’s a beautiful question springing from the heart of a poet struggling creatively to live out in a strange land (Babylon) what he knows to be true in another, more familiar context (Jerusalem). English poet e. e. cummings once wrote that the beautiful answer is always preceded by the more beautiful question, and in this psalm we discover a beautiful question. It has given theological roots to missional communities of grassroots leaders in six countries throughout Latin America (as well as in urban centers in the Caribbean, Kenya, and North America) under the banner of the Center for Transforming Mission (CTM). Read More

Mission: Transformed

By Michelle Garcia September-October 2012

 

ON A FLIGHT from New York City to Guatemala some years back, I met a woman from Oklahoma on her way to visit her soon-to-be internationally adopted daughter. “I just found them, the Guatemalan children, on the internet and thought they were so beautiful,” she said. She beamed, her blue eyes, carefully painted lips, and cross earrings all sparkling. Read the full article

Spiritual Guides – The Welcoming Prayer

In this last week of Advent before Christmas, we pause our regular theological reflections and turn our focus toward practices that encourage spiritual formation.

In our experience, individual and community spiritual formation are crucial for developing
healthy, sustainable leadership in vulnerable communities. That’s why we now share with you some of the practices the Street Psalms community use to allow God to speak to our hearts and souls as well as our minds.

This week we lift up The Welcoming Prayer by Father Thomas Keating. He joins St. Ignatius of Loyola and other spiritual guides who noted the importance of naming and accepting the movement of our emotions – even difficult ones.

For some of us this Advent season may be filled with joy, while for others, it can be a mixed blessing, or even a time of grieving loss and transition. Our community seeks to hold one other regardless of the amount of cheer (from “Santa” to “Grinch”) we may be feeling. We hope you are held as well.

Peace and blessings to you and your loved ones during this Advent season of waiting.

With gratitude for you,
Street Psalms team

The Welcoming Prayer

Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God
and God’s action within.
Amen.

Father Thomas Keating

Image: “Welcome” by alborzshawn (CC BY 2.0)

Rite of Passage to Adulthood Liturgy

Assign readers from community as indicated by blank spaces. Find a list of liturgical supplies at the end.

Welcome (______________________)

Poem (______________________)

A Voice through the Door – Rumi

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door
calling you, as a fish out of water
hear the waves, or a hunting falcon
hears the drum’s Come back. Come back.

This turning toward what you deeply love
saves you. Read the book of your life,
which has been given you.

A voice comes to your soul saying,
Lift your foot. Cross over.

Move into the emptiness
of question and answer and question.

Invitation (________________________)

(Name of young person), today we celebrate your transition from childhood into young adulthood, from boyhood into being a young man. What lies before you is a huge adventure – a story that you are co-authoring with God and the rest of us. We have gathered here as family and friends to bear witness to your life. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14) and you have already done amazing things

Amazing Things (______________________)
Customize a list of amazing things about young person

  • Such as story of birth
  • Good deeds and kindnesses
  • What young person loves
  • What kind of family member young person is

(Name of young person), you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. You will do things you never thought possible and your soul will become bigger than your biggest dream. Drink life like water and death like wine… be not afraid, dear one.

Holding the Mystery (________________________)

We stand before the mystery that is your life filled with awe and full of delight. Life holds great beauty as well as great affliction. Your task is to receive beauty in one hand and affliction in the other, honoring both of them.

• A rose in one hand: Given by Grandmother or elder – (______________________)

• A piece of ice in the other: Given by Grandfather or elder – (_____________________)

 

Blessing (_______________________)

And so we stand with you at the threshold of your adventure and we declare for you what God declared to all of creation. (Name of young person), your life… all of it… the good and the bad, the successes and failures, the beauty and affliction – all of it is – good, good and VERY GOOD (Gen. 1).

Jesus began his great adventure with a blessing from the Father. We offer this blessing to you now… (Mark 1:11)

Father: You are my son/daughter whom I love and I really like you.

Mother: You are my son/daughter whom I love and I really like you.

Community (ALL): You are our son/daughter whom we love and we really like you.

Mortality (___________________)

(Name of young person), the adventure that lies ahead is bigger than you – way bigger. You are human, imperfect, limited. You will make mistakes. You’ll need help. One day you will leave home and chart your own path. But life is not like a mountain that you conquer. It is not like a math problem that you solve. It is a mystery – a huge amazing mystery. Like all mysteries it wants to be experienced, not explained. It holds great joy but it also holds failure, frustration and futility. The mystery of life includes death. Life and death are one, not two!

God told Adam when he left his garden home, ”From dust you came and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). This is a hard but liberating truth.

Yes, death is certain, but do not be afraid, it opens more doors than it closes (1 Cor. 15:55). Everything you love will one day pass through death, even your dreams will die – at least the parts that are too small. This can be very painful. But do not be afraid. God gives beauty for ashes (Is. 61:3). You can count on it! Your deepest desires are already yes, in Jesus (Ps. 37:4). Do not be afraid.

Imposition of Ashes (____________________)

(Name of young person) will have written out some hopes and dreams before hand… these will be burnt and the ashes will be imposed on his forehead with these words: “From Dust you came and to dust you shall return.”

Celebration of Life (______________________)

(Name of young person), adulthood is not all doom and gloom. We are here to remind you that there is great joy that lies ahead. You have tasted this joy already. In fact, Jesus’s first miracle was to throw a huge party (John 2:1-12). He made 120 gallons of the best wine. That’s a lot of wine! Perhaps one day you will fall in love, have a family of your own, do good work, and love this wild and crazy world, especially people and places that are labeled the least. Let the beauty that awaits you break your heart wide open to the goodness of life.

Drink deeply of the wine of gladness (Eccl. 9:7).

Young person drinks a small glass of good wine; (___________________ serves young person)

Journey to the Cross (_________________________)

(Name of young person), beauty and affliction are trusted guides. They will lead you to the place of transformation. It’s a very strange place called the Cross. It is the place where caterpillars become butterflies – where boys become men, where girls become women, where wounded souls become fully human. It holds the deepest mystery of all. At the cross, beauty and affliction meet face to face and greet each other with a holy kiss. (Name of young person), do not be afraid. God meets you there and there you will know the secret that has been hidden since the foundation of the world (Matt. 13:35). At the cross you will come to know yourself for who you really are – your deepest and Truest Self. Jesus is revealing this secret even now. And here it is: (name of young person), you are FORGIVEN. God loves you and God really likes you, no matter what and you are completely free in Christ! Wear this cross as a sign of the secret that is hidden in you.

(________________________ presents young person with the cross)

Resurrection

________________________ (Name of young person), the cross is not the end of the story. Jesus came to his disciples in the resurrection. He said, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” And then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit, whomever you forgive is forgiven. Whomever you refuse to forgive, well then, you retain their sins as though they were your own” (John 20:21-23).

________________________ (Name of young person), receive the Holy Spirit that gives you the power to live out your highest calling. Yes, your highest calling is to forgive. It is how you become your truest self. It is how you become bigger than you ever thought possible and do greater things than you ever imagined (Eph. 3:20). It frees you to play the game that God wants to play.

________________________ (Name of young person), as you know, the breath we breathe is the very name of God. Take a moment to become aware of your own breath. Feel it. Every time we breathe we say God’s name. (Yah-wey, Yah-wey). (Name of young person), the first thing you did when you came into this world was breathe God’s name (Yah-wey) and the last thing you will do when you leave this world will be to breathe God’s name. God is with you in every breath you take empowering you to give and receive forgiveness. And so we all join you now in a moment of silence, breathing God’s name together: (Yah-wey, Yah-wey, Yah-wey)

 

Provisions For the Journey (_______________________)

(Name of young person), God gives you everything you need for the journey ahead: God gives you… a blessing, a bed, a bath, a meal, and a community of friends with whom to walk.

Blessing: As a reminder of God’s blessing on your life the community presents you with the book of blessings. (____________________ presents the book)

Bed: As a reminder that God begins the adventure with his own Sabbath rest the community presents you with a blanket inviting you to remember to get your rest and relax into the Goodness of life. (_____________________ presents the blanket)

Bath: As a reminder that you have been bathed in Christ at your baptism the community sprinkles you with water. (_________________________ sprinkles

Meal: As a reminder that God gives you food and drink for the journey we now celebrate the meal that Jesus gave us. (____________________ leads communion)

Community: As a sign that you do not travel alone and are always part of a big and ever-growing community we light the candle of friendship and pray the Lord’s prayer together. (_________________________ lights candle and leads prayer)

Questions (_______________________)

(Name of young person),

• Will you embrace the adventure that is your life with an open heart, open mind and open hands?

• Will you honor the beauty and the affliction that is uniquely yours?

• Do you promise to always say please and thank you AND remember to lift and put down the toilet seat?

To the Community (_______________________)

• Do you promise to be a community of friends who bless (name of young person)‘s journey?

(Name of young person), do you receive the blessing of God and this community?

(Name of young person), do you have any words you would like to share before we give you one final blessing?

Benediction (______________________)

Christ be with you. Christ within you.
Christ behind you. Christ before you.
Christ beside you. Christ to win you.
Christ to comfort and restore you.
Christ beneath you. Christ above you.
Christ in quiet and in danger.
Christ in hearts of those who love you.
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
– St. Patrick

Go in peace.

 

Liturgical Supplies

1. Copies of liturgy for readers
2. Rose and ice
3. Five dreams written on paper – a bowl to burn in, lighter and water.
4. Glass and wine
5. Cross
6. Book of Blessings/or Bible
7. Blanket
8. Water/basin for renewal of baptism
9. Communion set
10. Candle and lighter

Image: Stephanie Dunlap, Street Psalms

Moment of Blessing – Occasion of Assault

 

Date ­­­­­­­­­­______________________   Place ­­­­­­­­­­_______________________

Greeting (_____________)

Grace and Peace to all of us in the name of our Loving God. We stand on holy ground – for God is with us, doing what God always does, calling forth life, especially here, especially now. Immanuel is the God who is with us always and everywhere! There is nowhere we can flee God’s presence and nothing can separate us from God’s love – not tragedy, not violence not even death. This is why we reclaim this space as a place of life, community, hope and forgiveness. Yes, even the violence that has occurred here is being reclaimed in love, and called forth as holy witness to life itself.

 

Bearing Witness: What We Know About This Tragedy (__________________)

 

Declaration (____________)

We come together in this space and at this time of grief, acknowledging the violent act committed against our [sister/brother] ________________.

We confess that this tragedy is part of a wider failure to create safe communities that are humane, compassionate, just, and filled with dignity and hope for all.

 

Prayer (________________)

We ask that God may grant us peace.

That in our pain we may find comfort,

That in our confusion we may find a measure of understanding,

That in our anger we may find forgiveness,

That in our sorrow we may find hope,

That in the aftermath of fear we may find strength and healing.

Come Holy Spirit and baptize us again in the sea of your love, where we release our useless fears and relax into your mercy. Inside this new love we die to all that is false. By your power made perfect in weakness, awaken us to the mystery of life and speak to us again the truth of our deepest identity hidden in you. “You are my child whom I love with you I am well pleased.”

 

Psalm 23 (__________________)

Leader: The Lord is my Shepherd.

ALL: I shall not want.

Leader: The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures.

ALL: The Lord leads me beside still waters.

Leader: The Lord restores my soul.

ALL: The Lord guides me in right paths.

Leader: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

ALL: I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and staff give me courage.

 

Matthew 5 (___________________)

Leader: Blessed are the poor in spirit.

ALL: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Leader: Blessed are those who mourn.

ALL: For they will be comforted.

Leader: Blessed are the meek.

ALL: For they shall inherit the earth.

Leader: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

ALL: For they shall be satisfied.

Leader: Blessed are the merciful.

ALL: For they shall obtain mercy.

Leader: Blessed are the pure in heart.

ALL: For they shall see God.

Leader: Blessed are the peacemakers.

ALL: For they shall be called children of God.

Leader: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake

ALL: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

A Time of Sharing

What are we seeing, hearing, and feeling in this moment? (Participants may share briefly)

 

Affirmation of Sight

ALL: [Sister/Brother] ____________________, we see you. We acknowledge your life, your pain, and your healing. We hold you in our love and care, and in the strong and tender love of God.

 

Litany of Deliverance (_______________)

(The response is “Save us, O God”)

Leader: From the prevalence of sexual assault (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the ravages of drug and alcohol addiction (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the hopelessness of suicide (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the brutality of murder and violence (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the corruption of senseless death (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the ways human dignity is stripped (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the bitterness of homelessness and empty pockets (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the snare of mental illness and all discrimination (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the silence of apathy and neglect (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the deserts of ignorance and suffering (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the arrogance of racism and despair (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: And from all evil… (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: And from all evil…. (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: And from all evil…. (ALL: Save us, O God)

ALL: Amen

 

Song – Jesus Name Above All Names

Jesus, Name above all Names

Beautiful Savior, Glorious Lord

Emmanuel, God is with us

Blessed Redeemer, Living Word

 

Christo, Nombre Mas Alto;

Salvador Nuestro, Glorioso Senor

Emmanuel, Dios Con Nosotros;

Pan De La Vida, Cordero De Dios

 

Song – Our Cities Cry to You (sung to the tune of Amazing Grace)

Our cities cry to you, O God

Out from the pain and strife,

You made us for yourself alone

But we chose alien life.

 

Our goals are pleasure, gold and power

Injustice stalks our earth,

In vain we seek for rest, for joy,

For sense of human worth.

 

Yet still you walk the streets, O Christ!

We know your presence here,

Where humble people love and serve

In godly grace and fear.

 

O Word made flesh be seen in us

May all we say and do

Affirm you God incarnate still,

And turn all hearts to you.

 

Reading adapted from Isaiah 61:1-4 (__________________)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me

because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God.

to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion –

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of joy instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.

They will renew the cities that have been devastated for generations.

 

Prayer for the Neighborhood (__________________)

(adapted from Walter Brueggemann’s Prayers for a Privileged People)

 

Leader:

You are the God who has set us in families and clans and tribes, in communities and in cities.

We give you thanks this day that you are Lord of the city of _________________ and Lord of this very neighborhood.

We pray for the city of _________________ today, and we pray for this neighborhood

and for neighborhoods like it in Jerusalem, Baghdad, Moscow

and a thousand other villages in your cities around the world.

In all of our cities this day

there will be violence, crime and sharp moneymaking,

and also compassion and forgiveness and generosity,

and leaders who work for both justice and injustice.

ALL:

Be our God this day and prosper in the city of ____________________

We pray in the name of the One who wept over the city,

Amen.

 

Reclaiming Ritual – Blessing of the Water (________________)

Leader: We come together this day to reclaim this space of assault as a place of life. This place where violence occurred we are reclaiming as a place of peace. This place that causes fear, anger, and pain, we are reclaiming as a place of hope and community. We reclaim the humanity of both victim and victimizer in God’s name.

(Water is sprinkled on those present)

Leader: Come, Holy Spirit, to this place. As we sprinkle this water, come Holy Spirit, and redeem this space and people from the pain and violence that occurred here. Return it as a safe place, a place of love, a place of life, a place of hope. Amen.

ALL: That which was taken away from us by violence, we reclaim as a place of life, community, and hope. We pledge to work toward a world free from violence and self-destruction and full of love and hope. We commit ourselves to building community that is humane, compassionate, just, and filled with dignity.

 

Blessing of Survivors (If Present) (_______________________)

(Hands are laid on survivors of the event)

Christ be with you, Christ within you,

Christ behind you, Christ before you,

Christ beside you, Christ to win you,

Christ to comfort and restore you,

Christ beneath you, Christ above you,

Christ in quiet and in danger,

Christ in hearts of those who love you,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

 

Neighborhood Blessing (____________________)

Leader: What is a blessing but a rain of grace falling generously into the lives of those in need; and what neighborhood in this city is without need?

ALL:   God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: May the Spirit touch _______________ in this morning pause. May this day provide a pathway filled with hope and renewal. May there be work here today that is God’s love made visible.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: May a heart of grace and benevolence be born here today. And may that birth bless each person in this community with hope for the future.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: May the resurrection be experienced in _______________ today. As old enemies are moved toward reconciliation, exclusion becomes embrace, and as voices of criticism and hate are transformed into encouragement.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: May greed and excess dissolve into the soil of community gardens where neighbors and families share meals together and where children are free to play and explore their curiosities.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: God, breathe upon _____________ so when the people look in the mirror, they may see themselves as they truly are… a beautiful reflection of You.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood. Amen.

 

Benediction (_____________)

Leader: Our service is ended. As we leave this place, our prayer is that each of us might act in some way to uphold the dignity of every person – so that all would see that violence will not prevail in our community and peace will endure.

Beloved of God, may we go on our day with the courage to love. Return no one evil for evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted. Support the weak. Love one another as God loves you. As this is home to the trauma and healing of our [sister/brother] ________________, it is also home to God. God blesses both this space and ________________.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us because we have been anointed to announce good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to declare the year of the Lord’s favor.

We pray all of this in the name of the Father who is for us, the Son who is with us, and the Spirit who unites us all in the never-ending dance of love. Amen.

All: Thanks be to God.

 

© Street Psalms. Permission granted for this liturgy to be reproduced for local community gatherings only; may not otherwise be distributed without permission from Street Psalms.

Memorial Liturgy

Welcome –
This is a holy place
This is a place of gratitude
This is a place to say goodbye
This is a place to return and remember
This is a place of rest
But, this is not the final place. We offer ____________________ body to rest that his/her spirit might run free in God’s playground.

_____________________ is now more present to us in spirit than he/she was in his/her body. He/she now knows God’s heart in a way that gives us hope.

Invocation and Prayers
Gracious God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of life. Have mercy on us. Reveal yourself in all things, to all things and through all things. Grant us the gift of becoming a community of Christ-like desire, that we might see and celebrate you in all things, especially the hard places, even here…even now.

___________________You are Immanuel—the God who is with us. There is nowhere we can flee from your presence, and nothing can separate us from your love. We accept your invitation to relax into this miracle—to notice and to welcome your presence in all things everywhere—even here, even now.

__________________Open our hearts Lord, as we gather at this sacred place. Give us the eyes to see your transforming presence, calling forth life from death, hovering among us, dancing with delight.

__________________Come, Holy Spirit and be our guide and comfort. Our heart’s are filled to the brim with gratitude for Francis’ life. We return to your loving care, our dear friend, father, grandfather and great grandfather, great, great grandfather, Francis.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; 
he leads me beside still waters;

he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies; 
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
 all the days of my life, 
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
 my whole life long.

Poems by Rumi
Every object, every being, every person, is a jar full of delight. Be a connoisseur and taste with caution…

…It is sad to leave the people you travel with. How much more so those who remind you of God. Hurry back to the ones protecting you.

On every trip, have only one objective, to meet those who are friends inside the Presence. If you stay home, keep the same purpose – to meet the innermost Presence as it lives in people.
Be a pilgrim to the Presence inside a human being and heaven will rise into view on its own.

So…

Start the drumbeat! Everything we have said about the Friend is true. The beauty of that peacefulness makes the whole world restless. Spread your love-robe out to catch what sifts down from heaven. You, heart, closed up in a chest, open! For the Friend is entering you. You, feet, it is time to dance. Don’t talk about the old man for he is young again. And don’t get stuck in the past. Do you understand? The Beloved is here!

Eulogy – Good Words:
Write a word that comes to mind when you think of _______________

Litany of Peace
Jesus, you said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred… let us sow love;
Where there is injury… pardon;
Where there is doubt… faith;
Where there is despair… hope;
Where there is darkness… light;
And where there is sadness… joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled… as to console;
To be understood… as to understand;
To be loved… as to love.
For it is in giving… that we receive;
It is in pardoning… that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying… that we are born to eternal life.

Share the sign of Peace

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven. Holy is thy name. Thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us and lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Committal Words –
In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, we commend to God _________________. We thank you for his/her life. We now commit his/her body and return it to the elements, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. And we return________________ spirit to You, along with our blessings. Merciful One, we trust you now to be the God of all life everywhere and receive and awaken_______________________into your presence.

In silence: Burn blessings and place ashes in the Urn or place blessings on coffin as it is being lowered. A sign that we return our loved one with our blessings.

Final Blessing
All: (Raise hand in sign of blessing to each other)

Christ be with you, Christ within you,
Christ behind you, Christ before you,
Christ beside you, Christ to win you,
Christ to comfort and restore you.
Christ beneath you, Christ above you,
Christ in quiet and in danger,
Christ in hearts of those who love you,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

We pray this in the name of the Father who is for us, the Son who is with us and the Spirit who unites us all in the never-ending dance of love.

Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory, to the earth be peace, our family be hope and to our heart’s be courage.

Notes:
– This is a participatory liturgy where all who are comfortable are invited to participate.

– Bold print indicates that ALL will read in unison.

– Readers are encouraged to read slowly… intentionally.

Moment of Blessing – Occasion of Homicide

 

Date ­­­­­­­­­­______________________   Place ­­­­­­­­­­_______________________

Greeting (_____________)

Grace and Peace to all of us in the name of our Loving God. We stand on holy ground – for God is with us, doing what God always does, calling forth life, especially here, especially now. Immanuel is the God who is with us always and everywhere! There is nowhere we can flee God’s presence and nothing can separate us from God’s love – not tragedy, not violence not even death. This is why we reclaim this space as a place of life, community, hope and forgiveness. Yes, even the violence that has occurred here is being reclaimed in love, and called forth as holy witness to life itself.

 

Bearing Witness: What We Know About This Tragedy (__________________)

 

Declaration (____________)

We come together in this space and at this time of grief, acknowledging the violent act committed against our [sister/brother] ________________.

We confess that this tragedy is part of a wider failure to create safe communities that are humane, compassionate, just, and filled with dignity and hope for all.

 

Prayer (________________)

We ask that God may grant us peace.

That in our pain we may find comfort,

That in our confusion we may find a measure of understanding,

That in our anger we may find forgiveness,

That in our sorrow we may find hope,

That in the aftermath of fear we may find strength and healing.

Come Holy Spirit and baptize us again in the sea of your love, where we release our useless fears and relax into your mercy. Inside this new love we die to all that is false. By your power made perfect in weakness, awaken us to the mystery of life and speak to us again the truth of our deepest identity hidden in you. “You are my child whom I love with you I am well pleased.”

 

Psalm 23 (__________________)

Leader: The Lord is my Shepherd.

ALL: I shall not want.

Leader: The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures.

ALL: The Lord leads me beside still waters.

Leader: The Lord restores my soul.

ALL: The Lord guides me in right paths.

Leader: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

ALL: I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and staff give me courage.

 

Matthew 5 (___________________)

Leader: Blessed are the poor in spirit.

ALL: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Leader: Blessed are those who mourn.

ALL: For they will be comforted.

Leader: Blessed are the meek.

ALL: For they shall inherit the earth.

Leader: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

ALL: For they shall be satisfied.

Leader: Blessed are the merciful.

ALL: For they shall obtain mercy.

Leader: Blessed are the pure in heart.

ALL: For they shall see God.

Leader: Blessed are the peacemakers.

ALL: For they shall be called children of God.

Leader: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake

ALL: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

A Time of Sharing

What are we seeing, hearing, and feeling in this moment? (Participants may share briefly)

 

Affirmation of Sight

ALL: [Sister/Brother] ____________________, we see you. We acknowledge your death and your life. You did not leave this world unnoticed. We hold your memory in our love and care, affirm that your life was and is treasured by God.

 

Litany of Deliverance (_______________)

(The response is “Save us, O God”)

Leader: From the prevalence of sexual assault (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the ravages of drug and alcohol addiction (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the hopelessness of suicide (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the brutality of murder and violence (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the corruption of senseless death (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the ways human dignity is stripped (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the bitterness of homelessness and empty pockets (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the snare of mental illness and all discrimination (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the silence of apathy and neglect (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the deserts of ignorance and suffering (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: From the arrogance of racism and despair (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: And from all evil… (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: And from all evil…. (ALL: Save us, O God)

Leader: And from all evil…. (ALL: Save us, O God)

ALL: Amen

 

Song – Jesus Name Above All Names

Jesus, Name above all Names

Beautiful Savior, Glorious Lord

Emmanuel, God is with us

Blessed Redeemer, Living Word

 

Christo, Nombre Mas Alto;

Salvador Nuestro, Glorioso Senor

Emmanuel, Dios Con Nosotros;

Pan De La Vida, Cordero De Dios

 

Song – Our Cities Cry to You (sung to the tune of Amazing Grace)

Our cities cry to you, O God

Out from the pain and strife,

You made us for yourself alone

But we chose alien life.

 

Our goals are pleasure, gold and power

Injustice stalks our earth,

In vain we seek for rest, for joy,

For sense of human worth.

 

Yet still you walk the streets, O Christ!

We know your presence here,

Where humble people love and serve

In godly grace and fear.

 

O Word made flesh be seen in us

May all we say and do

Affirm you God incarnate still,

And turn all hearts to you.

 

Reading adapted from Isaiah 61:1-4 (__________________)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me

because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God.

to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion –

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of joy instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.

They will renew the cities that have been devastated for generations.

 

Prayer for the Neighborhood (__________________)

(adapted from Walter Brueggemann’s Prayers for a Privileged People) 

Leader:

You are the God who has set us in families and clans and tribes, in communities and in cities.

We give you thanks this day that you are Lord of the city of _________________ and Lord of this very neighborhood.

We pray for the city of _________________ today, and we pray for this neighborhood

and for neighborhoods like it in Jerusalem, Baghdad, Moscow

and a thousand other villages in your cities around the world.

In all of our cities this day

there will be violence, crime and sharp moneymaking,

and also compassion and forgiveness and generosity,

and leaders who work for both justice and injustice.

ALL:

Be our God this day and prosper in the city of ____________________

We pray in the name of the One who wept over the city,

Amen.

 

Reclaiming Ritual – Blessing of the Water (________________)

Leader: We come together this day to reclaim this space of assault as a place of life. This place where violence occurred we are reclaiming as a place of peace. This place that causes fear, anger, and pain, we are reclaiming as a place of hope and community. We reclaim the humanity of both victim and victimizer in God’s name.

(Water is sprinkled on those present)

Leader: Come, Holy Spirit, to this place. As we sprinkle this water, come Holy Spirit, and redeem this space and people from the pain and death that occurred here. Return it as a safe place, a place of love, a place of life, a place of hope. Amen.

ALL: That which was taken away from us by violence, we reclaim as a place of life, community, and hope. We pledge to work toward a world free from violence and self-destruction and full of love and hope. We commit ourselves to building community that is humane, compassionate, just, and filled with dignity.

 

Blessing of Survivors (If Present) (_______________________)

(Hands are laid on survivors of the event)

Christ be with you, Christ within you,

Christ behind you, Christ before you,

Christ beside you, Christ to win you,

Christ to comfort and restore you,

Christ beneath you, Christ above you,

Christ in quiet and in danger,

Christ in hearts of those who love you,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

 

Neighborhood Blessing (____________________)

Leader: What is a blessing but a rain of grace falling generously into the lives of those in need; and what neighborhood in this city is without need?

ALL:   God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: May the Spirit touch _______________ in this morning pause. May this day provide a pathway filled with hope and renewal. May there be work here today that is God’s love made visible.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: May a heart of grace and benevolence be born here today. And may that birth bless each person in this community with hope for the future.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: May the resurrection be experienced in _______________ today. As old enemies are moved toward reconciliation, exclusion becomes embrace, and as voices of criticism and hate are transformed into encouragement.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: May greed and excess dissolve into the soil of community gardens where neighbors and families share meals together and where children are free to play and explore their curiosities.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood.

Leader: God, breathe upon _____________ so when the people look in the mirror, they may see themselves as they truly are… a beautiful reflection of You.

ALL: God, we ask your blessing on this neighborhood. Amen.

 

Benediction (_____________)

Leader: Our service is ended. As we leave this place, our prayer is that each of us might act in some way to uphold the dignity of every person – so that all would see that violence will not prevail in our community and peace will endure.

Beloved of God, may we go on our day with the courage to love. Return no one evil for evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted. Support the weak. Love one another as God loves you. As this is home to the trauma and healing of our [sister/brother] ________________, it is also home to God. God blesses both this space and ________________.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us because we have been anointed to announce good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to declare the year of the Lord’s favor.

We pray all of this in the name of the Father who is for us, the Son who is with us, and the Spirit who unites us all in the never-ending dance of love. Amen.

All: Thanks be to God.

 

© Street Psalms. Permission granted for this liturgy to be reproduced for local community gatherings only; may not otherwise be distributed without permission from Street Psalms.

Lectio Divina – Personal Reading

 

Seek in READING
and you will find in MEDITATION
knock in PRAYER
and it will be opened to you in CONTEMPLATION
– St. John of the Cross, paraphrasing Luke 11:9

Lectio Divina, or “sacred reading,” is an ancient way of prayerfully receiving the Word of God. There are typically four movements:
• Lectio – reading a selected text
• Meditatio – meditating on a specific word or phrase that stands out
• Oratio – speaking to God in prayer, journaling, or sharing with others in a group
• Contemplatio – contemplation… simply “being” with God, resting in God’s embrace without words, awake to the movement of the Spirit.

These guidelines are for individual Lectio. Lectio is a way of prayerful listening, so leave space for silence throughout your time.

To begin, choose the Scripture passage you wish to pray. A few verses are better than a whole chapter. You might start with a short story from the Gospels or a portion of the Psalms. Get in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become attentive. Some people focus for a few moments on their breathing; others have a “prayer word” or “phrase” they slowly recite to become centered. When you are ready, move through the following four phases of interaction with your chosen Scripture:

Phase One – Lectio (reading)
What does the text say?
Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently, out loud. Savor the reading, feel the sensation of words in your mouth. Pay attention to gut-level responses. Does a particular word or phrase stand out? Listen for the “still, small voice” of a portion of the reading that says, “I am for you today.”

Phase Two – Meditatio (meditation)
What does the text say specifically to me at this point in my life?
Take the word or phrase into yourself. Slowly repeat it, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, joys, hopes, memories, and ideas. Let your imagination engage the text. Is there an invitation here from God?

Phase Three – Oratio (prayer)
What do I say to God through the text?
Speak to God in response. Be honest with emotions and thoughts – even perhaps, any resistance you might be experiencing. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. Wrestle honestly if you need to. Finally, give to God what you have encountered in your heart today.

Phase Four – Contemplatio (contemplation)
Be still, resting in God’s embrace, letting God work in your spirit.

Lectio Divina – Group Reading

Seek in READING
and you will find in MEDITATION
knock in PRAYER
and it will be opened to you in CONTEMPLATION
– St. John of the Cross, paraphrasing Luke 11:9

Lectio Divina, or “sacred reading,” is an ancient way of prayerfully receiving the Word of God. It may be practiced individually or in a group. There are typically four movements:

Lectio – reading a selected text
Meditatio – meditating on a specific word or phrase that stands out
Oratio – speaking to God in prayer, journaling, or sharing with others in a group
Contemplatio – contemplation… simply “being” with God, resting in God’s embrace without words, awake to the movement of the Spirit.

A Group Lectio Practice

Preparation
• Choose scripture passage (up to 10 verses or so). Print copies for each participant (optional).
• Choose 3 readers—a mix of genders if available. Let them know you will prompt them when to read aloud. Encourage them to read slowly, deliberately.
• Groups of 4-8 work best; larger groups may take longer or can be broken into smaller groups.
• Note that during any time of sharing, participants may “pass” if they do not wish to speak.

Opening
• Participants are invited to sit comfortably, back straight and limbs relaxed, settling into quiet breathing. Eyes may be closed.
• Allow 2-3 minutes of silence.

First Reading (Lectio)
• Invitation for participants: During the first reading, simply listen for an overall sense of the passage. Get in touch with the ideas; if it is a story, use your imagination to place yourself in the scene. Pay attention not only to thoughts, but also to emotions and physical sensations.
• First reader reads aloud, followed by a short period of silence.

Second Reading (Meditatio)`
• Invitation for participants: in the next reading, listen for any particular word or phrase that stands out. It may be for some particular reason or just a gut response, positive or negative. This is the Word you will taste and “chew on” for today.
• Second reader reads aloud.
• Invitation for participants: Go around the circle and say aloud your word or phrase, without comment.

Third Reading (Oratio)
• Invitation for participants: after the next reading spend several minutes quietly meditating on how your word or phrase might connect with your life today, or the life of our community. What feelings or response does it stir? Are you prompted to any change or action? Is your posture one of acceptance or resistance? Be as honest as possible with God about anything you are thinking and feeling.
• Third reader reads aloud.
• After a few minutes of silence, invite each participant to share a sentence or two, in the form of “I see, I hear, or I sense”…whatever he or she has received and responded to.

Fourth Reading (Contemplatio)
• Invitation for participants: this is a time of simply sitting in the presence of God, awake to his work and Word (Christ among us).
• Fourth reader reads aloud. (This reading is optional; may be only silence during this time.)
• Several minutes of silence.

Closing Prayer
• Each person prays for the person to the right. (optional)
• Leader closes time in prayer.

Manners of Mission

Street Psalms seeks to imitate the manners of Jesus. “The Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does in like manner” (John 5:19). These manners are our version of “please and thank you.” They might be considered virtues that when practiced over time, produce the kind of humility that is the hallmark of Gospel peacemakers. True to form, we are learning our manners most powerfully from the vulnerable themselves – they who are the face and grace of Jesus, returning us to ourselves, clothed and in our right mind (Mark 5:15).

Generosity: “Enough for all!”

A largeness of vision derived from God’s abundance – a willingness to risk big, fail often, forgive much, share much, and act freely in ways that transform our lives and the city.

Hospitality: “Room for all.”

A largeness of heart that sets welcoming and open tables for all and gives preferred seating to those at the margins – a willingness to welcome, invite, gather, network and serve others in ways that nurture ever-widening community.

Simplicity: “Limits for all.”

A largeness of soul that trusts, honors and discerns the limits and healthy boundaries of our gifts, call, roles, and responsibilities. We are free to say yes AND no to opportunities. This discipline is born out of deep trust in the boundless love of God and the Spirit’s unwavering commitment to bring all things to completion.

Vulnerability: “Risk in all”

A largeness of strength and courage that risks on the power of vulnerability. Martin Buber said, “All real life is meeting.” Such “meeting” is born of vulnerability that feels a lot like weakness. And yet vulnerability calls forth life, or as Brené Brown said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

Meal From Below: Eucharist Liturgy

“It is with desire I have desired to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer.”*

Luke 22:15

Greeting

(Servant): Peace be with you.

(All): And also with you.

 

Centering Prayer

(All): Lord, we are hungry and thirsty for life.

 

Assurance

(S): God of all life everywhere, you have been the stranger among us, preparing this meal since the foundations of the world. You have declared this meal your eternal joy. It is the meal that reconciles all of creation. It is the never-ending meal, ever-extending to a hungry and hurting world. Here, at this meal, you have declared that there is enough for all and there is always room for all. It is the sign of your peace into which we now enter.

(A): Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; grant us peace.

(S): You said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

(A): Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

 

Confession

(Women): Jesus, we come to the table having tasted the reality of your goodness and the mystery of your abundant love. We also come having tasted the bitterness of our own sin and the sin of others. We are part of a love-starved world that craves that which cannot satisfy. You’ve happily let go of all our sin long, long ago, and yet we drag it to the table with us, unsure of how to live without it. We come to the table tempted to stuff ourselves in fear or starve ourselves in shame. Lord, help us.

(Men): Forgive us for all the ways we diminish the meal you have provided; for all the ways we are ruled by the myth of scarcity; for all the ways we grumble at the table; for all the ways we guard against your mercy and withhold it from others; for all of our misplaced and displaced desires that have caused so much harm.

(A): Heal us, O Lord.

 

Words of Institution

(S): On the night that Jesus was betrayed [by his friends from below, and arrested by his other friends from above], he took bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper, he took the cup, blessed it, and gave it for all to drink, and said, ‘This cup is the blood of the new covenant, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.’ The Apostle Paul adds, ‘For as often as we eat of this bread and drink from this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.’

 

Paschal Mystery

(S): Let us proclaim together the mystery of our faith.

(A): Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

 

Contemplations

(S): As the body of Christ in the world, we not only partake of the meal, we also become part of the meal of which we partake. The Eucharist inducts us into Reality and reveals its hidden pattern at work in our lives.

(M): Taken. We are taken into the loving hands of God. Let us now feast on God’s love as the foundation of all life and transformation. All of creation is taken into the love from which it comes.

(W): Blessed. In the loving hands of God, we are blessed. Let us now drink deeply of the Incarnation and creation in Christ as the blessing of God’s presence in the world.

(M): Broken. We are broken in and through the love of God. Let us now taste God’s own experience of suffering on the cross, and how that experience radically transforms death into life.

(W): Given. As broken ones, we are given to a broken world. Let us now savor life inside of the resurrection and its gift to the world.

(A): Spoken. All of life is spoken into existence through this meal. Let us now digest the living Word that speaks all of life into existence.

 

Receiving the Elements

 

Our Lord’s Prayer

(S): Let us pray together as Jesus taught us.

(A): Our Father who is in heaven, holy is your name. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

 

Benediction

(S): “When Jesus was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.”

(A): Jesus, like the disciples who were blind to your presence until they dined with you in the resurrection, we too are blind to your presence until you dine with us. You are the stranger among us, revealed as the loving Host of the meal of our salvation. Open our eyes, Lord, to the stranger among us. We want to see and celebrate you at work in the world, creating, sustaining, and uniting all of creation in the meal of our salvation.

We pray all of this in the name of the Father who is for us, the Son who is with us, and the Spirit who unites us all in the never-ending dance of Love. Amen.

(S): Go in peace.

 

* Note: The wording, “With desire I have desired” is a literal rendering of the original Greek text of Luke 22:15. The double intensive emphasizes the depth of Jesus’ desire for communion with his friends at the meal. Other scripture sources: Greeting (John 20:21), Assurance (John 1:29, 14:27), Confession (Isa. 55:1-2; Matt. 8:8), Words of Institution (1 Cor. 11:23-26), Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13), Benediction (Luke 24:30-31)

 

Asking the Beautiful Questions

It’s a beautiful question springing from the heart of a poet struggling creatively to live out in a strange land (Babylon) what he knows to be true in another. more familiar context (Jerusalem).

Lent: A Time

I’m personally no good at pausing, in writing or in life. I am in fact behind on everything all the time. My email inbox is crammed and messages are flashing on my phone.