Poetry, Prayers for Pastors, Racism

Charm City (a prayer for pastors)

City Pier, Baltimore
The Baltimore a tourist sees.

The last time I was in Baltimore,
a hot bright summer day,
I remembered why I love it there,
a real city,
with troubles,
beautiful and eccentric,
Charm City.

It’s a place that feels real,
where it’s dirty and pretty,
no pretense,
and now it’s burning,
and kids can’t go to school,
and maybe they are hungry,
wishing for the school lunches
my ten-year-old picks at
knowing there is plenty at home.

And it’s churches feeding people,
feeding children,
and it’s pastors who lead protests,
peaceful ones,
strategizing first,
then taking to the streets,
trying to make a change
where there is so much strife,
with such long history.

Lord, I pray for those pastors,
doing work harder than mine,
no doubt wounded by the scenes
playing out on television,
or running eternally on Vine.
(Do not read the comments
on the Internet, that horrifying
collection of everything hateful.)
They are speaking to the press
and ministering to the people,
and cleaning up the mess.

All I have to do is this:
decide whether to talk about it.
I sit in a safe suburb,
and I weigh the possible reactions
of people in the pews,
or the ones I call my friends,
the ones who watch the news
and see a different story,
or only one side of it.

All I have to do is decide to talk about it.
I’m embarrassed that it feels like a lot.

So I’m praying, Lord,
for the ones with more courage,
who may not have known they had it,
but are working for You now,
clearing away the debris,
trying to clear a way for peace.

Prayers for Pastors

One Shepherd (a prayer for pastors)

A photo from the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore
A photo from the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore

Dear Jesus,

You say we are one flock
with one shepherd,
and I can only conclude
that we resist
with all our heart,
mind, soul and strength,
afraid of love,
afraid of being one.

We fear a loss of power,
of status,
of identity.

We live in a dream world.

What does it take to wake us us up?

A church fire,
a missing child,
smashed windows,
courageous truth-telling,
the shaking of the earth,
an avalanche of reality.

Dear Jesus, Good Shepherd,
if only we could hear your voice
before tragedies occur.

(If only we listened to each other.)

If only we heard your voice
before we treat each other so terribly.

If only.

Call us again,
through your gate,
into your pasture,
we pray.

Call us again. Please.

Amen.