News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  13 March 2018 •  No. 155

Processional. “All my life I've been waiting for / I've been praying for / For the people to say / That we don't wanna fight no more / They'll be no more wars / And our children will play / One day.” —Koolulam leading 3000 people in Haifa singing “One Day” (Thanks Marnie.)

Above: “As the Trump administration eyes the border wall, so does an elusive French street artist. Building a massive dining table across both sides of the US-Mexico border in the small Mexican town of Tecate, artist JR painted ‘the eyes of the dreamer’ on top of the bench. In a special one-day-only setup, one eye is meticulously placed on either side of the border.” —for more see Khushbu Shah, CNN

Invocation.Psalm 51 – Schaffe in Mir Gott (“Create in Me”),” Johannes Brahms, performed by California State Fullerton University Singers.

Call to worship. “Create in me a clean heart, O God. / In the measure of your abundant mercy, clear the debris from my life. / My failures are before me; they mock and taunt me. / Even my bones feel the weight of disappointment. / Mercy, mercy, have mercy on me.” —continue reading “Create in me a clean heart,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 51

Rev. Micah Bucey (pictured at right) is associate minister of Judson Memorial Church in New York City, a congregation with a decades-long history of advocacy on behalf of immigrants and a member of New York City’s interfaith New Sanctuary Coalition. For more background see this site.   Recently, the matter got personal when one of Judson’s own, Jean Montrevil, a Haitian immigrant and vigorous advocate for other immigrants, was arrested, imprisoned in Miami, and then deported. Judson's senior minister, Rev. Donna Schaper, was a co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition. —for more see Connie Larkman, UCC News

Hymn of praise.Lord of the Dance,” Heath Mount School Choir. Sydney Bertram Carter, an English poet and folk singer wrote the song’s lyrics and adapted the Shaker song, “Simple Gifts,” to create “Lord of the Dance.”

Confession. “Happy are those who walk in the Way of Beauty, harnessed in the Bridle of Mercy and according to the Weal of Justice. / From Creation’s Promise to Redemption’s Assurance, may Your Faithful Word leap from our lips and exclaim with our limbs. / In this Law I delight! May it rule soul and soil and society alike.” —continue reading “In this law I delight,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 119

Net neutrality. “The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier, which was used to describe the role of telephone systems.” The principal is amazing simple: That all internet data should be treated equally.

        “Net neutrality” doesn’t lend itself to a rallying cry, a protest poem, or a dissenter’s street graffiti. So why does it (occasionally) make headlines? In short: It’s one more way large corporations seek to corral a public asset, now available under approximately equitable terms and without regard to financial clout, and turn it into a cash cow for wealthy investors.

        Last December the Federal Communications Commission voted to abolish previous net neutrality policies governing the internet, which will allow the communications giants like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T to construct platforms giving a “fast lane” to those who can afford higher premiums, bumping others into cyberspace traffic jams. What follows is a short list of resources to understand what’s at stake.

¶ “The FCC just voted to repeal its net neutrality rules, in a sweeping act of deregulation.” Brian Fung, Washington Post

¶ Here are two brief videos on net neutrality.

        • “Why we must protect net neutrality,” Robert Reich. (3:08 minute video)

        • A PBS video (1:22) on what’s at stake with net neutrality. (Thanks Rhonda.)

¶ Here’s an introduction to the topic of “net neutrality” by Anna Baltzer, especially in the context of Israeli-Palestinian relations. (11:41 video. Thanks Joe.)

¶ “Adding to the growing backlash among the public and members of Congress against the FCC's party-line vote on Thursday to repeal net neutrality protections, nearly 20 state attorneys general have lined up to sue the FCC, calling the Republican-controlled agency's move a violation of the law and a serious "threat to the free exchange of ideas." Jake Johnson, CommonDreams

Breaking news. The mayors of 11 cities have taken a vow to refuse to do business with internet service providers that don’t support net neutrality. The “Cities Open Internet Pledge”  was announced on Sunday at the South by Southwest conference in Texas. Jake Johnson, CommonDreams

Hymn of supplication. “We rest on Thee, our shield and our defender! We go not forth alone against the foe. / Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender / We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.” Mennonite Hour Singers

Those crazy Canadians are at it again. “Nearly 800 Quebec Doctors Demand Their Pay Raises Go To Nurses, Improving Healthcare Overall.” Julia Conley, CommonDreams

Words of assurance. “Is there no song to be sung, no bell to be rung, no laughter from the fields at play with their yield? Would that my mouth be formed and my lips unleashed to speak a word, a true and hearty word, to all grown deaf with grief. Make our tongues worthy—make them constant and true—to sustain the weary with a word.” —continue reading “Sustain the weary with a word,” a litany for worship inspired by 50:4-9a

Professing our faith. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” —continue reading “Heart Religion,” a litany for worship using texts from Ezekiel, the Psalms, Matthew, and Acts

In preparation for St. Patrick’s Day.

        • “St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, didn’t expel snakes from Ireland, has no ‘miracle’ attributed to him (which now is required for sainthood), and didn’t write the poem ‘St. Patrick’s Breastplate’ (which was likely penned 3-4 centuries after Patrick died in the late 5th century). Ironically, though, his fame was sufficiently established in his lifetime that his followers waged a war for custody of his body. Relatively little is known for certain about his life, but this much is documented: He was likely the first early church leaders to speak out against the abuse of women.” —see more in "St. Patrick and his Day: Connecting the saint to his Irish context, especially the 19th century 'Great Famine'"

        • “Who was St. Patrick?,” a brief (1:09 video) biographical sketch.

        • See Susan B. Barnes’ “17 St. Patrick's Day celebrations for March 17 and beyond”  for a summary of St. Patrick’s Day events around the US.

Hymn of intercession.Weeping Eyes,” Amir Bar-David & Revital Khalfon

Preach it. This is what we hope Lenten practices will do: Create "a creeping discomfort about my confidence in the way I've always viewed the world." —quote by Rick Steves, popular travel reporter, in the third edition of his book, “Travel As a Political Act: How to Leave Your Baggage Behind.” For a review, see Genevieve Valentine, NPR (Thanks Ashlee.)

Can’t makes this sh*t up. In federal law, when hunting migratory birds the number of rounds of ammunition in your shotgun is limited by law to 3. But you can get 100-round magazines for your AR-15.

¶ This Friday, 26 March, is the 50th anniversary of the massacre in My Lai, Vietnam. “We privilege confession and absolution in our liturgy not because God enjoys our humiliation. Just the opposite. By the grace of God, confession frees us from the power of our failures. Confession provides the possibility to begin again. The wreckage wrought by human behavior is real; but the future is not thereby fated.

        What does attention to penitential life have to do with the 50th anniversary of the My Lai massacre? Everything—if we’re looking for root causes and not merely explanations.” —continue reading “The ties that bind: The Integrity of Penitence, on the 50th Anniversary of the Massacre at My Lai"

If you’re within traveling distance, there will be a public vigil this Friday, 12 noon–1:00 pm, in Lafayette Park (across from the White House in Washington, DC), commemorating the 50th anniversary of the My Lai massacre. For more information on this and other activities, see the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee site.  A worship resource, including liturgical material and historical background, is also available.

Call to the table. “No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, / ‘Know the Lord,’ / for they shall all know me, / from the least of them to the greatest, / says the Lord; / I will forgive their iniquity / and remember their sin no more.” —continue reading “I will put my law within them: A choral reading of Jeremiah 31:31-34"

The state of our disunion. On Saturday, 3 March, President Trump reached a milestone: his 100th day at one of his golf resorts. That comes to nearly one out of every four of his days in office. The Washington Post estimates Trump's flight costs alone cost $514,000 per hour. Tab for golf carts rented for his Secret Service security detail? $103,000. The city of Palm Beach, Florida, site of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago luxury resort, spends $60,000 per day on extra security while the President is there. —for more see CheatSheet

Best one-liner. “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” —Rosa Parks, whose refusal to relinquish her bus seat to a white passenger prompted the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, effectively launching the modern Civil Rights Movement

For the beauty of the earth. The BBC series “Planet Earth: Blue Planet II” is among the most amazing things I’ve ever seen on TV, accompanied by David Attenborough’s majestic narration. “How in the world did they get that shot?!” I repeatedly said aloud. For a little background, watch this brief (1:00) video of how the filming was done. If you have access to PBS, watch your local listings for the show’s offerings. (Thanks Joshua & David.)

Altar call. “As a young adult, however, I began to sense that the text had little meaning in face of the context. What does the heart have to do with the array of power relations in the world? What does giving your heart to Jesus have to do with realities of war, of continuing racial disparity and economic injustice?” —continue reading “Religion of the heart,” a sermon inspired by Jeremiah 31:31-34

Benediction. “I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality.” —Sydney Carter, author of “Lord of the Dance”

Recessional. “I arise today / Through God’s strength to pilot me / God’s eye to look before me / God’s wisdom to guide me / God’s way to lie before me / God’s shield to protect me / From all who shall wish me ill / Afar and anear / Alone and in a multitude / Against every cruel / Merciless power / That may oppose my body and soul.” —“The Deer’s Cry,” (aka “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”), Rita Connolly, with the Curtlestown Choir

Lectionary for this Sunday. “Create in me a clean heart, O God. / In the measure of your abundant mercy, clear the debris from my life. / My failures are before me; they mock and taunt me. / Even my bones feel the weight of disappointment. / Mercy, mercy, have mercy on me.” —continue reading “Create in me a clean heart,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 51

Lectionary for Sunday next. “From the depths of distress, every sail sagged and limp, / my mutinous lips offer insurrecting sighs. / With heart-aching hope doth my voice still rejoice.  / Incline us, consign us, to steadfast Embrace.” —continue reading “Mutinous lips,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 118

Just for fun. Snow shovelers’ dance. (10 second video. Thanks Shawn.)

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks

"Resurrection's approach," a poem for Holy Week

• “Create in me a clean heart,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 51

• “Mutinous lips,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 118

• “Religion of the heart,” a sermon inspired by Jeremiah 31:31-34

• “I will put my law within them: A choral reading of Jeremiah 31:31-34"

• “In this law I delight,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 119

Other features

• “The ties that bind: The Integrity of Penitence, on the 50th Anniversary of the Massacre at My Lai,” an essay

• “Plastic Jesus,” a Lenten meditation on plastic,” an essay

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