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Signs of the Times  •  31 July 2019 •  No. 198

Processional. “Old Time Medley: Down to the River to Pray,” “Modeh Ani,” and “Hallelujah,” Nefesh Mountain.

Above: Photo by Doug Lowry.

Invocation. “Thus says Yahweh, author and anchor of creation,  / to the people of Promise whose memory has failed. . . / From Pharaoh’s deadly bargain I purchased your release.  / Why have you grown tired of my attention? / My heart recoils at the thought of plundering you / in order to pardon you. / Instead, I will woo you. I will wait you out.” —continue reading “Cheek to cheek,” a litany for worship inspired by Hosea 11 & Matthew 7:7–8.

Call to worship. “The Kingdom of God has no flag, no walls, no cages, and one official language: Mercy.” —author unknown

Hymn of praise. “Bless The Lord, O My Soul,” S. Rachmaninoff "All-Night Vigil" / Vespers, op. 37.

Good news. “Irish teenager wins global science award for removing microplastics from water.” —

Confession. “The Death of Emmett Till,” Bob Dylan.

¶ In August 1955 two white men in rural Mississippi kidnapped, tortured, and murdered 14-year-old Emmett Till, then dumped his body, weighed down by a cotton gill fan, into the Black Bayou near the Tallahatchie River. Till’s murderers were acquitted. This incident is often identified as a pivotal moment in the launching of the modern Civil Rights Movement.

        In 2007 a memorial marker sign (at right) was placed on the bank of the Tallahatchie River where Till’s body was found. It has been vandalized repeatedly. Just this past week three University of Mississippi students were pictured in front the memorial sign, two of them holding weapons.

¶ “[I]t is possible to understand why vandalism sometimes registers as terror. The vandalism is in effect (if not in intent) a forcible reclamation of white space. It turns markers of the black experience into reminders of white supremacy. Much like the burning crosses of the Klan, the bullet-riddled markers visibly announce white supremacy and foreshadow the violence that maintains it.” Dave Tell, Chicago Tribune

Hymn of lament. “Wayfaring Stranger,” Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra.

 ¶ Centennial marker. “America in the summer of 1919 ran red with blood from racial violence, and yet today, 100 years later, not many people know it even happened.

        “It flowed in small towns like Elaine, Arkansas, in medium-size places such as Annapolis, Maryland, and Syracuse, New York, and in big cities like Washington and Chicago. Hundreds of African American men, women and children were burned alive, shot, hanged or beaten to death by white mobs. Thousands saw their homes and businesses burned to the ground and were driven out, many never to return.

Left: White children cheer after setting fire to an African American home in Chicago during the 1919 “Red Summer” of racial unrest that swept the nation from May through October. Although riots occurred in more than thirty cities throughout the U.S., the bloodiest events were in Chicago, Washington D.C., and Elaine, Arkansas. For more see Femi Lewis, ThoughtCo.

        “It was branded “Red Summer” because of the bloodshed and amounted to some of the worst white-on-black violence in U.S. history. . . .

        “There are no national observances marking Red Summer. History textbooks ignore it, and most museums don’t acknowledge it. The reason: Red Summer contradicts the post-World War I-era notion that America was making the world safe for democracy, historians say. ‘It doesn’t fit into the neat stories we tell ourselves,’ said David Krugler, author of 1919, The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back." Jesse J. Holland, PBS

Four hundredth anniversary. “While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently called human slavery America’s ‘original sin,’ he dismissed calls for the federal government to pay financial reparations to descendants of slaves. It has been 400 years since ‘20, odd Negroes’ in chains arrived aboard the English ship ‘The White Lion’ in Point Comfort, Virginia, in August 1619. A short time later, a second ship, ‘The Treasurer,’ brought more Africans to be sold to the white Virginia settlers who had arrived in Jamestown a dozen years earlier. . . ." A. James Rudin, Religion News

Street level courage. “Residents in a suburban Nashville neighborhood (see photo at right) came together to protect an undocumented man as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers attempted to arrest him. After a four-hour attempted arrest — during which time the undocumented man and his young son barricaded themselves inside a van parked in front of their home — ICE agents left, and neighbors and activists on the scene created a human chain to allow the family to get indoors.” Jasmine Aguilera, Time

Words of assurance. “You are not hidden / There's never been a moment / You were forgotten / You are not hopeless / Though you have been broken / Your innocence stolen / I will send out an army to find you / In the middle of the darkest night / It's true, I will rescue you.” Lauren Daigle, “Rescue” (Thanks Tami.)

Professing our faith. “What a society does to its children, its children will do to society,” a Roman sage once said. —Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, The Nonviolent Moment: Spirituality for the 21st Century

Hymn of resolution. “Your labor is not in vain / though the ground underneath you is cursed and stained / Your planting and reaping are never the same / But your labor is not in vain. / For I am with you, I am with you.” —The Porter’s Gate, “Your Labor Is Not in Vain

¶ “How Border-Crossing Became a Crime in the United States.” —,

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union told a federal judge Tuesday that the Trump administration has taken nearly 1,000 migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border since the judge ordered the United States government to curtail the practice more than a year ago.” Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post

Hymn of intercession. “I Behold You, Beautiful One.” —Acapellaboratory and Choral Conspiracy

Word. “One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.” —Charles M. Blow

In September 2017 the New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services conducted a study, at President Trump’s request, estimating the long-term costs of the US Refugee Admissions Program.

        The internal study, which was completed in late July but never publicly released, found that refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” between 2005 and 2014 through the payment of federal, state and local taxes. “Overall, this report estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.” —read more of David Emery’s reporting at Snopes

¶ “New York children read the words of their peers held in US Border Patrol facilities.” —video by Leah Varjacques and Taige Jensen, New York Times (3:29)

The Catholic Day of Action for Immigrant Children gathered over 200 individuals within the Catholic faith, representing 20 national organizations.

        “I was one of 71 Catholics arrested . . . for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding” while praying the rosary. My prayer was — and is — to end the warehousing of immigrant children in cages — 63,624 of whom have been apprehended by border patrol at the southwestern border between October 2018 and June 2019 and seven of whom have died after being in federal custody since September. More than a dozen Catholic orders and organizations sponsored the event. Rose Berger, “A Cross of Human Bodies,” Sojourners

All God’s children got shoes: Two very different stories

        • When Carrie Jernigan of Alma, Arkansas took her daughter to get a new pair of shoes at the Payless store (which was going out of business), her fourth-grade daughter, Harper, asked if they could get a pair for one of her friends who needed a new pair. Turns out, Carrie ended up buying that store’s entire inventory, 1,500 pairs of shoes, for kids in need. Ben Kesslen, NBC (Thanks Loren.)

        • New record for most expensive sneakers. “A pair of 1972 Nike running shoes became the most expensive sneakers ever sold at auction, fetching $475,500 at Sotheby’s.” CNBC

Preach it. “Interesting how ‘I’d kill for my kids’ is a widely accepted and agreed upon idea among Americans, but somehow ‘I’d illegally cross a border for my kids’ is a big no no.” —author unknown

Can’t makes this sh*t up.

       •“US authorities revoked International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's entry visa to the United States, her office and the US State Department confirmed Friday.” Jennifer Hansler, CNN

       • Article II of the US Constitution says “I have to the right to do whatever I want as president.” —President Trump, speaking in July at the Teen Student Action Summit

Call to the table. “Some holy ghost keeps me hangin on, hangin on / I feel the hands, but I don't see anyone, anyone / I feel the hands, but I don't see anyone, it's there and gone / Feeds my passion for transcendence / Turns my water into wine / Makes me wish I was empty.” —Mavis Staples, Holy Ghost

The state of our disunion. “The Trump administration went to court last week to argue that migrant children detained at the United States-Mexico border do not require basic hygiene products like soap and toothbrushes in order to be in held in ‘safe and sanitary’ conditions.”

Watch this short (3:55) video of Dr. Warren Binford describing the horrid conditions at a immigrant child detention facility in Texas. (Thanks Karen.)

Creative resistance. “Two California professors installed pink seesaws (see photo at left) at the U.S.-Mexico border to allow children in both countries to play with each other. Ronald Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an assistant professor at San José State University in California, came up with the idea for a ‘Teetertotter Wall’ in 2009.

        “Their idea finally came to life at an event Monday in Sunland Park, New Mexico, when three bright pink seesaws were installed across the giant steel border wall, stretching into Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

        “‘The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side,’ Rael wrote on Instagram.” NBC News  (You can also watch a brief (0:19) video.)

Best one-liner. “I keep waiting for someone to tell me, ‘yeah, I was a fruit picker until those illegal immigrants arrived.’” —from the internet (Thanks Glenn.)

For the beauty of the earth. Drone footage of a blue whale and her calf swimming off the coast of San Diego, California. (2:53. Thanks John.)

Altar call. “Be forewarned, you nation of frivolous piety: You who turn the Most High God into a mascot for your charade of innocence while deceitfully invoking the Sovereign’s blessings on your affairs. Let there be no more God bless America, for your hands are full of blood.” —continue reading “Nation of frivolous piety,” a litany for worship inspired by Isaiah 1:15 & Psalm 99

Right: Mother of God: Protectress of the Oppressed, icon by Kelly Latimore

Benediction. “Faith is not belief in spite of the evidence. Faith is life lived in scorn of the consequences. / We catch it by surrounding ourselves with a cloud of witnesses, with the stories of faithful people, both from distant memory and direct experience.” —continue reading “Faith is contagious,” a litany for worship inspired by Hebrews 11

Recessional. “Psalm 23” (“Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy”), Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. (Thanks Roy.)

Lectionary for this Sunday

• “Cheek to cheek,” a litany for worship inspired by Hosea 11 & Matthew 7:7–8

• “Let gladness swell your heart,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 107

• “Faith is contagious,” a litany for worship inspired by Hebrews 11

Lectionary for Sunday next. On the importance of unfiltered prayer: “I will accept no bull in my house.” —a play on the words of Psalm 50:9

Just for fun. Attack of the cute puppies. (1:00 video)

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks

• “Nation of frivolous piety,” a litany for worship inspired by Isaiah 1:15 & Psalm 99

• “Cheek to cheek,” a litany for worship inspired by Hosea 11 & Matthew 7:7–8

• “Let gladness swell your heart,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 107

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