Thursday, July 10, 2008

For People Who Are Homeless

Tuesday I went to a meeting of pastors that was convened by Rich Lang to begin a dialogue about how churches could perhaps take the work on homelessness up a notch or two and maybe even fight for justice when they're not too busy making sandwiches. Lots of my favorite people were there. Rich joked that I was invited as an honorary pastor to talk about Real Change's Organizing Project, and offered to have everyone do a laying on of hands to seal the deal. He also offered to convene an exorcism if that might be more helpful.

As an honorary pastor, I got to help read the closing prayer. It's from a radical minister in Atlanta named Eduard Loring, and appears in the collection Prayers For the New Social Awakening. I quite like it.
Hungry are we, Oh God of the oppressed, for justice.
Thirsty are we, O God of liberation, for human rights.
We come before you on this day-for-free.
Oh Creator,
That you are making
In the midst of the Empire's weapons
of mass distraction.

We come
to focus,
to commit,
to act,
to struggle,
to fight,
to love,
to shout as loud as we can,
to wage peace

for your abandoned ones
who wander the mean streets
with nowhere to go
in this nation at war
with Iraq, at itself.

You Companions of Compassion
who dearly love
beggars & prostitutes
children fighting rats under bridges,
starving mothers whose milk cannot nourish,
prisoners who sit in abandoned hell holes,
without the visits that your son commands.

You who
come to us in the stranger's guise as
drunks and addicts,
widows and orphans,
beggars in velvet,
mumblers and incoherent poets of your word of fire,
lost lawless lawyers whose bar code is: Out,
teachers who dared to tell the way the truth the life,
veterans who fought our war abroad,
& have no homes in their homeland (no security, no
patriots act for them.

You, Oh God of justice
cry out
like a woman alone in childbirth:

"Housing is a human right
Go tell it on the mountains
in the sanctuaries
on the streets
at the courthouse and the halls of congress,
House my People today,
I say,
In the fierce urgency of now.

Woe to you prosperity preachers,
Woe to you blind cruel police
who hurt and harm my unhoused.

Woe to those who own two houses while I sleep
in a barn.
Woe to the rich while I suffer from poverty.
Woe to the well-fed while I stand in a soup line.
Woe to those who cheer for tax cuts while
my people have nowhere to go but jail."

Help help help
us not simply to endure.
Grant us the strength to build the beloved community
on earth.
Carry on with love & struggle & sacrifice
on the streets.

Grant us dignity
as we build a destination of righteousness & justice,
of love & peace,
of equality and housing for all,
of human rights.

In the name of the one who lifted Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.
to be the brightest light of this nation
As he followed in the footpath of Jesus the Human
And as King confessed with his back against the wall:
"But amid all of this we have kept going with
the faith.
that as we struggle, God struggles with us
& that the arc of the moral universe, although long,
is bending toward justice."

In the names of
Abraham and Sarah,
Jesus the Human One,
Harriett Tubman,
Malcolm & Martin


1 comment:

Bruce from Accordion Noir said...

I always liked the story of the Open Door Community folks (Where Ed Loring works in Atlanta) working for public toilets. They blockaded city-hall bathrooms (on a few floors, but not all of them). They had toilets to sit on in the halls while barring the doors chanting, "Pee for free with dignity!"

People got real upset when they couldn't go to the bathroom where they wanted.