Ordination invocation

O Wondrous One,
who rides the skies and
consorts with the earth,
who haunts the heavens,
hounding mere mortals
with the expectation of ecstasy,
come and incite us to
Heaven’s revolt against
earth’s revenge.
Revive hungry hearts
wandering this arid land
with the aroma of your presence.

Fire of Heaven,
scorch away the encrusted
results of living so long
outside the breath of your lungs.
Rekindle your blaze
in the marrow of our souls.
As Jesus was raised
in Easter’s Resurrection Moment,
now animate your people
on this Pentecost Sunday,
and breathe new life into your
Resurrection Movement.

O Majestic One,
whose passion spills into flesh and blood,
bless the one who kneels in this assembly.
She is fruit of your womb,
anointed with your presence,
acknowledged by these witnesses
as an arsonist of the Spirit.
As with our ancient sister Mary,
draw forth from her lips
the subversive announcement of
Heaven’s claim on earth’s abandoned.

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On the flow of tears

For my daughters

As each take your leave
now charting your own courses
I pause and ponder your absence
with dreaded joy:
joy that your wings have spread
so far so fast,
dread at the silence filling the air
which your voices once stirred.

It wasn’t that long ago that I
maneuvered surgeon’s scissors
and severed the cord which tied
you to your mother.
That I did so—
snip, then a brief spurt of blood—
without fainting
is surprising.
I took it as a hopeful sign,
that I would not faint as a father.

The memory of those similar,
separate exertions— the extent of
my labor in bringing you to life
so disproportionate to that of your
mother’s— has occupied my
thoughts with more than passing
recollection in recent weeks.
It is as if that rupture served,
with each of you, as prophetic
announcement of what was to come.
It has taken many measured steps
and years and come, no doubt,
too slowly for you,
too quickly for us;
but now the significance of that
severance is fulfilled.

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Prayer of Remembrance

Commemorating the May 1866 Memphis Massacre

Oh, God, our help in ages past
our hope for years to come
We gather here in the sanctuary of your earth
under the vaulted dome of the sky.
We gather as your tiny flock, as a people
called out by faith in your future.
It is because we have our lives anchored in
your promised future
that we're able to pause and look back.
We gather here, your tiny flock,
to remember events mostly forgotten.
We gather here, your tiny flock, in the rain,
and we are reminded that the rain brings us
a rainbow,
a sign of your promise
never to leave us alone
never to forsake us.
No, never alone,
protected in the stormy blast
which still blows through the lives
of your little ones.
Your rainbow promise gives us the courage to recall
the death and destruction delivered on this ground
so many years ago,
the hatred and brutality—all but forgotten in our day—
inflicted on the innocent lives
of our brothers and sisters.
We listen, our hearts quivering, to catch the sound
of the cries of the ground
which absorbed so much blood.
We look about, our hearts repenting,
that such destruction still infects your family, your creation.
We remember, our hearts attentive,
that even the tiny sparrow catches your attention.
And thus we are confident, our hearts still hopeful,
that those fallen here so long ago
are still precious in your sight;
that those gathered here
are still called to herald the good news of your peace,
that your peace will one day hallow this ground
and that all shall come, from every race,
to rejoice in each other
as brother and sister
and you as Abba, Father,
as Amma, Mother.
Your Kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org. Prayer written in May 1990 for the first public commemorateion of the 1866 Memphis Massacre, a race riot in Memphis, Tennessee, which claimed the lives of 46 people and wounded another 80. Ninety homes, four churches, 12 Freedman's Schools (for emancipated slave children) and many black businesses were burned. It began when a wagon driven by an African American refused to pull over and allow a white-driven wagon to pass.

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Let the banquet begin

O happy day when friends return from
afar, safe, unharmed, fingers, toes and
taste buds intact, hearts strong (though
weathered from the journey), long past
ready to put suitcases away, for more

walks in the woods and the familiar
faces of bloodkin and soulfriends.
Long past ready for snuggling with
familiar soil and hugging delicious
necks, belly-button to belly-button,

with time to relish memories of the
year now sprinted by. Good times
past, and sweet; hard times, too,
and some sour, and surely too
many miles, ever struggling to

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How dare the sun ascend

We all knew it would come.
     Someday. Always later.
It comes for us all. Sure.
           Of course.
     We know that. Someday.

But when someday draws near
     for someone you love
           whose silenced breath sears
                 your lungs with flames of grief
           and sobs so immense
     you wonder:
How dare the sun ascend?
     The stars to shine?
     Even the yeast to rise!

Who authorized the earth to turn another inch?
    Gravity itself should be suspended,
and the new moon halt in midair
     with its ghostly light exposing
           every predator’s stare.

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House of meeting

And now
and now
in this house of meeting
as daylight ends
and darkness descends
prepare your hearts for God’s greeting

Though hearts ache by night
joyful blaze will ignite
with the radiance of Love
that will not let you go

Will not let you go
Will not
Will not
Will not let you go

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For Larry Brake

It’s a good thing
that hearts are hardy.
Fiercely resilient.
Expanding and contracting
in rhythm to breath,
breath of joy and of grief.
Hardy enough, even, to rumble on
in sleep and occasional boredom.
But there is a limit,
a border, a time,
which often ignores
the calculus of science or human affection.

Commonplace rain, and sorrow’s reign,
fall inexplicably on
the just and unjust.
And we are sometimes left
to sigh in the night
with nothing but tears
for food.

So it is with you, most intensely,
but also to countless others
whose hearts knew delight
in Larry’s presence.
Such hearts—
your hearts,
our hearts—
very nearly faint at the failure of his,
at the absence of one who lived large,
laughed often
and loved well.

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Easter’s aftermath

Easter resurrection is never as assured
as the arrival of Easter bunnies.

Clothiers and chocolate-makers alike yearn
for the season no less than every cleric.

And yet, in my experience, the Spirit
rarely blows according to the calendar,
much less on demand.

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Deadly days are numbered

No, I do not feign from
speaking of Jesus as Lord.
For who else can mobilize
hearts and hands in opposition
to the lords of enmity,
their names being legion?

The conflict is ensued. No
turning back, nor sidelines
for spectators whose loyalties,
despite denials, are already
secured and cheaply so.

Speaking thusly implies no
resistance to others’ honor of
another Name. I trust Heaven’s Intent
more than the words of my lips
or the beat of my heart. G-d is
at work in Ways I do not
(and may never) comprehend.

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Dance like no one’s watching

If we fill our lives with things, and again with things,

If we consider ourselves so important that we must fill every moment with movement and plans and calculations

When will we have the time to greet Messengers under oak trees, as did Abram? Or overhear improbable news, like Sarah?

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