October 31, 2018
The following prayer was offered at the Vigil of Remembrance at the Temple de Hirsch Sinai in response to the tragic deaths of the previous week:
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by that might led us into the light.
Keep us forever in the path we pray.
Holy One, we call upon you this day. We regret that we must do so as we yet again dust off our “thoughts and prayers,” for yet again, persons took lives that only you can give. Today, we force ourselves to rise from our low and desolate places, willing ourselves to keep on living, even while we want to crumble upon the floor in sackcloth and ashes.
Console us, Wise God. Grant us compassion. Teach us to grieve with one another without blaming those who mourn for their own demise.
Ah! Holy God, we cry out to you. Collectively, we are exhausted. We are tired of watching, fighting, praying, being hyper-vigilant in the presence of promised liberty. We long for relief, true peace, justice and loving kindness. We long to see a piercing light in the darkness.
Together, we send tear-drenched condolences to the families of the 11 Jewish innocents killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue, and to the two African American innocents killed in Kentucky, all struck down by personified, animated hate, racism and anti-semitism. Teach us that you are God, the God of the Oppressed, who springs into action at the cries of your people, who knits fabric of hope from tattered pieces left after one-sided battles.
Remind us that there are seeds within us, seeds that exist and are born in our souls. Together, we will birth a new Tree of Life, a new home of shalom.
Bind us together then, O God. Bind us together and create the environment that we might produce good in the world. May we wipe each other’s tears while also pledging to do the work so necessary to changing the order of things. May we rise up, together and strong, and teach the children that though there is trouble in the land, we can live in hope. May we rise up, together and strong, and tell the elders that their singing, their voting, their marching, their moaning, their protest has not been in vain.
Out from the gloomy past, ‘til now we stand at last,
Where the white gleam of out bright star is cast.
(The prayer is bracketed with selected words from “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, set to music by John Rosamond Johnson.)
-Rev Dr. Kelle Brown