This week Jacob said goodbye his grandfather. His parents undertook to fly him back to the US, where he was able to offer a few words at the funeral service. 

The burial will take place next week.

I knew Jacob’s grandfather for only six short years, a blip of time in a life of ninety-five years. To me, he will always be the quiet, smiling presence in the corner, beaming over his family and rarely saying a word. I know this was only one of the many iterations of John Quick. It was one of the several lives he lived over a century. But it was the quietness of him, in this late stage of life, that left an impression on me. It was a quietness that shaped my husband deeply, in his twinned soul. It was a quietness that spoke of gentleness and wisdom and humility. It spoke more loudly than words.

This is one grief in burying a loved one: the silence. Even the quietest of the people among us are full of deafening presence. Death brings a sharp, penetrating silence. While quietness is a comfort, silence is finality and frailty and fear.

Henri Bremond said that mysticism is the practice of presence and unity with the Divine. It is the hearing of God’s voice. By contrast, Michel de Certeau claimed the exact opposite. He said that the mystics did not experience the presence of God, but rather the absence. It is the absence of the Divine which triggers a desire for presence. Absence and desire. Isn’t this the definition of grief? For the mystic, experiences of darkness, emptiness, and silence are more fundamentally formative than experiences of light or revelation. The mystic is etched by silence.

In grief, we are all etched by silence.

I read a poem yesterday shared by a friend. It came at the right moment. 

But the silence in the mind
is when we live best, within
listening distance of the silence
we call God. This is the deep
calling to deep of the psalm-
writer, the bottomless ocean.
We launch the armada of
our thoughts on, never arriving.

It is a presence, then,
whose margins are our margins;
that calls us out over our
own fathoms. What to do
but draw a little nearer to
such ubiquity by remaining still?

But the silence in the mind
by R. S. Thomas

Farewell, Grandaddy. One day, I’ll meet you in the margins and we will exchange this silence for quietness. Rest in the love of Christ and may perpetual light shine upon you.

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Today was my final Sunday as a Church of England Ministry Experience Schemes (CEMES) intern at my home church of St. Martha and St. Mary’s. The internship has included opportunities to preach, and I wanted to share my final sermon from today with you. I hope it resonates.

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When I was invited to preach, Jack suggested that I use any passage that expresses some lessons learned from my year as an intern at St. Martha and St. Mary’s. As I reflected back on an experience which has been formational on many levels, I chose to illustrate the year through the prayer that we just read, the song of Mary, the Magnificat.

I want to talk about this prayer, and about prayer itself, and about how my sense of prayer & place & voice has been cultivated as I have been among you in this internship.

Much can be said about this beloved prayer, the Magnificat. In structure, it reflects the composition of Jewish psalms. The first stanza displays a characteristic feature of Hebrew poetry—synonymous parallelism: “my soul” mirrors “my spirit”; “proclaiming the greatness” mirrors “finding gladness”; and “the Lord” mirrors “God my Savior.” The prayer is expressed with symmetry and grace.

The prayer also demonstrates contrasting parallelism: the proud are contrasted by those who fear God, the mighty by the humble, and the rich by the hungry.

There is scholarly debate regarding whether the historical Mary actually prayed this prayer, primarily because the words echo several ancient Jewish psalms, including the Song of Hannah, recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1–10. I find myself bristling at this debate, not because I cannot perceive how this prayer may be a simple reiteration of a more ancient Psalm. This is certainly plausible. I bristle because the Gospel writer portrays Mary as the author of this prayer and in so doing, makes her the theological interpreter of her contemporary events. The Mary who prays the Magnificat is the Mary who recognizes and occupies a place in redemption history. This Mary understands two things — place and voice — and these are the themes that have emerged from my year as an intern.

One element of this internship has been the structure of praying the Daily Office. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Daily Office in the Anglican tradition consists of Morning and Evening Prayer and Compline before bedtime. The Magnificat is prayed every day during Evening Prayer. At the beginning of the internship, I had a dutiful approach to praying the office. I saw it as a sort of checklist item: “I prayed today.”

My checklist item, “I prayed today,” implies that prayer happened because I did it. As the year progressed, and I started to learn more from my experiences, from my supervisors, from my spiritual director, I began to see prayer as a process that was taking place with or without me. Prayer is constant: all of creation is crying out to God, all of the saints and angels are praying continually, the Holy Spirit is ceaselessly interceding for us. Eventually, I began to hear the hollowness of my checklist item — “I prayed today” — and my concept shifted to “Prayer is happening, and I took my place and I lent my voice.” Place and voice. The dual themes of my internship.

Mary speaks of place on the Magnificat when she says “He has looked with favour on his lowly servant… the Almighty has done great things for me.” During one of my first internship meetings with Jack, he made the observation that life has crushed me in various ways, and he said, “Now you’re in a place where that is no longer the case. This year may be about stepping out and moving forward from that past.” I stepped into my role as intern timidly. I wasn’t quite sure what was mine to do. It took me some month or two before I felt comfortable serving at the altar, before I introduced myself as an intern to guests or visitors. But Mary, whose life was rendered perplexing in unwelcome ways by her calling, immediately has the spiritual acumen to see that God has lifted up the lowly and has filled the hungry with good things. She understands that God is doing that: like prayer, which is happening, God is lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry, and she sees that she has been invited to take a place in that great work, to stand with the lowly and the hungry and the crushed and be part of the great things that God is doing. I learned from her prayer that taking my place, naming my vocation, is likewise a mature and gracious way to take part in what God is doing.

Mary speaks of voice when she says “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” Two particular opportunities were given to me as intern: 1) leading our home group and 2) participating in our prayer ministry. In homegroup this year, by increasing collaboration, we learned quite a bit about one another and how to build a trusting community. The crowning triumph of the year together was to take turns each week voicing our personal journeys of faith.

Similarly, this semester, Jane and I have offered prayer ministry after the Lord’s Supper for those who desired personal prayer. In this context, it was not unusual to hear someone say the words, “I have never said this to anyone before…”. In this year together, some of us have used our voices as never before, myself included.

The dual themes of place and voice culminated in our dynamic worship last week, in which I felt privileged to take my place, literally and metaphorically, near the cross and give voice to the stories of women who have been the victims of violence — to give voice to my own story of being silenced.

So on a final note, I want to offer sincere thanks to each of you for welcoming me to take the place of an intern here and to exercise my voice. In this community of warmth and welcome and kindness, I have been able to flourish. It has been a sincere honor to journey alongside you all at M&Ms. I ask you to continue to journey with me as I look forward to the year ahead: I will remain here at M&Ms. I have been encouraged to continue my discernment process, which may include some short visits to other parishes to round out my experience in the Church of England, and will also include some big interviews for which I will need time to prepare and for which I ask your support and your prayer.

Someone from the congregation approached me after dynamic worship last week to hand me a note which said, “Silent no more, never again.” And isn’t that what Mary says, when she declares that from this day all generations would call her blessed? She is saying that she has filled a place in redemption history and she can no longer be silenced. I can think of no better way to conclude this CEMES internship than by voicing Mary’s psalm once more. Will you pray with me?

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
he has looked with favour on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed;
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm
and has scattered the proud in their conceit,
Casting down the mighty from their thrones
and lifting up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
to remember his promise of mercy,
The promise made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children for ever. Amen.

 After evening prayer in the Edith Stein Kapel at Cardinal Schulte Haus.

After evening prayer in the Edith Stein Kapel at Cardinal Schulte Haus.

Two weeks ago, I was invited to attend the Diocese in Europe’s synod held in Cologne, Germany. Following a presentation on my experience as a Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme intern, I joined the three other Europe interns to lead evening prayer. It felt like a real capstone as I near the end of this CEMES journey.

This is the prayer of intercessions I prepared for the service. It seems particularly appropriate for Trinity Sunday.

Creator God,
we pray for a world which is thirsty, scattered and blemished.
We ask for you to pour Your living water on parched and weary people.
We ask you to visit all rulers and leaders with wisdom to transcend divisions,
and we ask for your newness to wash over your creation, making it clean.

Incarnate Christ,
we pray for our bishops, Robert and David, for priests and deacons and all ministers to your people.
May they shepherd us with love and show us an example of asking, knocking, and seeking.
We pray for those in need—in trouble, sorrow, sickness, adversity—and we pray as people who are also in need.
Remind us of our need lest we forget our calling to incarnation.
Help us see your face in the faces of those in need in order that we might love our displaced neighbors as ourselves.

Holy Spirit,
we join with the prayers of Thy Kingdom Come and ask you to look graciously on us,
and us, of our hallowing, thoughts that pass into prayers,
prayers that pass into love, and love that passes into life with you forever.
Amen.

 

Our time in Cologne concluded with a pilgrimage to Cologne Cathedral, where we visited the Shrine of the Three Kings and joined in noonday prayer before heading out for German pretzels and eiskaffee. We collectively breathed deep sighs of relief. The CEMES finish line is in sight.

At the beginning of this internship, I could not have known how my commitment to my vocation would come to deepen and expand. I did not know how frustrated I would be by setbacks and stresses. Jacob and I would have live apart. I would sacrifice time and work in ways that impacted our life significantly. Richard Rohr says that “there is a price that must be paid to be faithful to such foundational love. There is a cruciform shape to reality, it seems: loss precedes all renewal, emptiness makes way for every new infilling, every transformation in the universe requires surrender…”

I also could not have known how much the internship would give me space to learn, travel, reflect, speak, preach, connect, dream. At this time last year, I was pleading with God to allow my vocation to take form and flourish. This year, I am preparing to interview with the bishop and the advisory panel. Yes, loss, emptiness and surrender are constants in this journey. Yet holding it all, there is foundational, persistent, relentless Love. 

When I am quiet and still, I hear a benediction whispered, one which was spoken over Christ and has been spoken over each of us: “You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Amen.

Lord of Eternity
Fernando Ortega

Blessed is the man
Who walks in Your favor
Who loves all Your words
And hides them like treasure
In the darkest place
Of his desperate heart,
They are a light
A strong, sure light.

Sometimes I call out Your name
But I cannot find You.
I look for Your face,
But You are not there.
By my sorrows, Lord,
Lift me to You,
Lift me to Your side.

Lord of Eternity,
Father of mercy,
Look on my fainting soul.
Keeper of all the stars,
Friend of the poorest heart
Touch me and make me whole.

If You are my defender,
Who is against me?
No one can trouble or harm me
If You are my strength .
All I ask, all I desire
Is to live in Your house all my days.

A prayer by Walter Brueggemann hangs above my desk. I pray it nearly every day but the petition seems most poignant on Earth Day.

Today I started two wee plantings from my dear friend; brushed from my fingers little bits of good earth; felt the joyful anticipation of sprouting life. 

 Radish and parsley pots.

Radish and parsley pots.

Plants have always been comforting to me. My earliest botanical memories are of the potted Christmas cactus and aloe vera that my mom lovingly moved from house to house… it was a season when we were frequently in transition. Those potted plants were a constant.

Only now do I know how hard it is to keep potted plants alive. I’ve resorted to cactuses, mostly, and a few herbs for cooking. I wonder how my mom did it.

My parents tried to cultivate children with green thumbs: we were responsible for yard work and gardening from an early age. During various seasons throughout the transition years, we planted vegetable gardens, none of which were terribly successful. We would set up trellises and attempt to grow green beans but the green beans never reached our kitchen. I ate every single one.

Every year on Mother’s Day, my sister and I bought my mom a hanging fuchsia. I don’t know if my mother ever expressed an interest in fuchsia, but it was our liturgy.

After the transition years, when we were no longer on the move and had built my parents’ house, I took up gardening as an adolescent. My dad cleared a patch for an herb garden, as herbs were a newly discovered passion, and set up a stone bench in it, made from a massive piece of shale we had wrenched from the ground. We broke the stubborn red clay and added fertile soil and laid mulch. Neighbors divided their African irises and chocolate peppermint to donate toward my efforts. I bought a miserable bleeding heart on clearance from the supermarket which leafed out into the most stunning bush imaginable.

 Mini radish pot.

Mini radish pot.

I’m not sure what these memories from my early agrarian enterprises represent on Earth Day. I was not an environmentalist then. I only knew how much I felt at home in that little herb garden, and how easily I could talk to God there. I didn’t know about soil erosion, but I remember how my heart would ache when a heavy rain would wash away seeds that I had lovingly tucked into the earth, full of hope. I knew the earth was sacred. Those vivid impressions formed me into the advocate that I am today.

Today, at my spiritual director’s prompting, I’m trying to spend more time outdoors, where I can perceive God with greater ease. I take turns around the city park and I can pray there, and on the days when I cannot pray, I can hear the earth pray.

So on this Earth Day, I’m return to that Brueggemann prayer pasted over my desk. If Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann isn’t sitting on your bookshelf, may I suggest it? Until your copy arrives, let us pray on Earth Day:


Speaking, acting, life-giving God, the one with the only verbs that can heal and rescue,

We come petitioning one more time,

seeking your majestic address to us,

asking your powerful action among us,

waiting for your new life toward us.

 

Your creation teems with bondaged folk

who don’t have enough for life,

not enough bread, not enough clothes,

not enough houses, not enough freedom,

not enough dignity, not enough hope.

 

Your creation teems with bondaged creatures,

great valleys become trash dumps,

great oceans become dumped pollutions,

fish wrapped in dumped oil,

fields at a loss for dumped chemicals.

 

So we pray for creation, that has become a dump,

and for all your people,

who have been dumped,

and dumped upon.

 

Renew your passion for life,

work your wonders for newness,

speak your word and let us begin again.

 

In your powerful presence, we resolve to do our proper work,

but we are not self-starters.

 

We wait on you to act, in order that we may act.

Show yourself in ways that give us courage and energy and freedom,

that we may love our neighbors as ourselves,

care for your creation as a holy sanctuary,

and praise the glory of your name, which fills the whole earth.

 

We pray in the savaged power of Jesus, who loved and cared and praised.

Amen.

My Lenten bread practice culminated in a lovely basket of bread for our Anglican Easter luncheon. Sourdough loaves, sourdough rolls, sourdough naan… a basketful of abundance to share with the people who enrich my life week after week.

The practice interrupted my life considerably. It takes in excess of eight hours to bake a loaf of bread. A professional can see at a glance that my technique is lacking: it will take many loaves of practice before I produce the kind of bread you see in boulangerie windows. 

 A healthy, bubbly sourdough starter.

A healthy, bubbly sourdough starter.

From my journal entry today: “By some miracle, this Lenten sourdough starter is still alive. I have forgotten to feed it three times this week. Today I saw very few of the little yeast bubbles that signal life. It can’t stand this neglect much longer. What am I doing?”

So many things crept into my mind and stole my attention this week. One thing after another.

I have made mistakes, I continue to make them
The promises I’ve made, I continue to break them
And all the doubts I’ve faced, I continue to face them
But nothing is a waste if you learn from it

The sun, it does not cause us to grow
It is the rain that will strengthen your soul
And it will make you whole

During the past seven days, I’ve been alternating between anxiety and passivity. I frantically studied for a French grammar exam with sweaty palms and with deep regret that I had registered for this course at all. 

I had a sermon to write which wasn’t clicking. It wasn’t coming together or weaving into a warm homily. My points were staccato. I couldn’t conclude. 

I was asked to be a “witness” at a KU Leuven Centre for Women’s Studies event on the topic of the Holy Spirit. Guess what? I haven’t sorted out my pneumatology. I first encountered God’s love at a pentecostal revival. But I had shelved those experiences when plunged into the Moody lectures that taught me not to worry because the Spirit was nice and predictable these days.

We have lived in fear, and our fear has betrayed us
But we will overcome the apathy that has made us
Because we are not alone in the dark with our demons
And we have made mistakes

With the “witness” event right around the corner, I decided to just go and listen. Just to learn something. When it was my turn to talk, I went over my time and I got emotional. I witnessed to my own confusion and to my confidence that however my pneumatology develops, it will never be predictable. Breath and creation and love move in every way mysterious. 

And oh my heart, how can I face you now?
When we both know how badly I have let you down
And I am afraid of all that I’ve built
Fading away

On Friday, with the French exam hours away and my heart racing madly, I took a nap. Yes. I think that nap knocked a couple of points off of my grade. I decided to close my eyes and stop. fighting. the. perfectionist. fight. Once upon a time, I measured the value of my work and effort with something tidy like a grade. Now it’s time to grow up and embrace a fuller measure of who I am.

The sun, it does not cause us to grow
It is the rain that will strengthen your soul
And it will make you whole

I reached out to some wise women who helped me write that sermon. I couldn’t do it on my own. The thoughts wouldn’t weave together until those spiritual guides echoed back the feelings that I couldn’t voice. And the response to the sermon was strong and warm and affirming: the words echoed to other souls as well.

So I apologetically fed my sourdough starter this afternoon and I can’t say if it will be alive tomorrow or not. My Lenten practice is not tidy and I am not faithful.

My sweet friend wrote to me today: “I wish I could give you a hug and tell you that you aren’t falling short.” And I believe that’s the Holy Spirit’s voice, if I’m listening. If you’re feeling fragmented this week, or feeling defeated, or feeling like you may have just killed the one stupid practice you were supposed to keep, maybe you’d like to join me for this affirmation: this will strengthen my soul.

Let’s be whole people. Failure and fear and all.

The first week of my lenten bread-making practice has ended. The first couple of days were spent gathering the necessary things: a large glass bowl, a kitchen scale, clean tea towels, a wooden spoon, flour and filtered water. Elemental as this exercise was, as I was going about gathering, it struck me that I have been given so much.

 As I snapped this picture, I realized that every item in the frame is a gift.

As I snapped this picture, I realized that every item in the frame is a gift.

Usually, I am struck by how much I have been given as I walk. As I walk through Leuven, I am awed by the privilege of living in a safe, beautiful, medieval Belgian city. On my way to classes, I think about how much others have given so that I can be a student. I roam through gardens and parks around town and consider how natural beauty abundantly fills the cracks and crevices of my inner landscape. In this abstract way, I experience what St. Ignatius taught, that all is gift.

During this lenten exercise, though, I have been struck by how many concrete things I have been given by others. The large glass bowl which now holds my wild yeast sourdough starter is a gift from the family that I babysit for. The kitchen scale is a Christmas gift from Ellie, the tea towels are from Faith and Linnea, the wooden spoon is from Carrie. The only items involved in this process which are not direct gifts from others are still concrete gifts: clean, filtered water and milled flour, available in abundance in this beautiful, prosperous country.

So I have two notable thoughts from this first week of Lent: generosity and gratitude. First, I am surrounded by the most generous of people. Generosity is a reflex to reach out and lift up. There is a sort of deep, unaffected generosity that I’ve observed in my community, in people who give because it is their reflex to give. Second, gratitude is simply overwhelming me in this lenten season. Meister Eckhart, the 13th-century German mystic, said, “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” I offer thanks for each of these generous people as I make my lenten bread, along with the many others who come to mind as I measure and stir, watch and wait. My dear spiritual director in Chicago taught me quite a bit about the way that gratitude transforms our outlook on life. Gratitude is a gateway to abundance, a path to contentment, a protest in a consumptive world.

These two qualities, generosity and gratitude, are not unrelated. One fuels and inspires the other. As St. Ignatius said, “All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.” As I enter week two with generosity and gratitude, may this bread-making practice help me to know Christ better.

We experience the movement of time in at least two distinct, grossly-oversimplified ways: linearly and cyclically. In linear time, we think of a three-part structure of past, present, and future, with time moving in one direction (like an arrow) without repetition. The arrow cannot be reversed back: time marches forward such that we cannot return to the past and we cannot skip ahead to tomorrow. But in the church, we also experience time in a cyclical way. We mark the passing of time on the church calendar, which repeats rhythmically, year after year. The calendar begins with Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, just recently passed, in which we remember the coming of Christ to earth as a man. The calendar then moves on through Lent, Easter and Ascension, during which we remember the death of Christ and His resurrection. After his ascension into heaven, we celebrate Pentecost, when he sent his spirit to comfort us until we are reunited with him. After Pentecost, the weeks on the church calendar are aptly labeled “ordinary time”… these are months of time which pass without extraordinary incident until we return to Advent and Christmas once again. So even as time shoots forward like an arrow, the church calendar repeats and reminds us that we also live in rhythms and seasons.

I have observed the cyclical, circular calendar of the church for about five years. Through the rhythm of the church calendar, I return over and over again to what Christ has done, in becoming incarnate, in showing us what God looks like, in shining light in our darkness.

Lent occurs as spring emerges, when creation is undergoing a seasonal process of renewal. When I lived in upstate New York and kept a garden, this was the time of year when the snow receded from the perennials and revealed dead, decayed organic matter beneath. I would collect the dead leaves and use a sharp hoe to incorporate them into the soil, causing them to decompose quickly and provide vital nutrients to the roots awakening below.

The Lenten season is likewise a season of renewal. I approach Lent as a season in which to look at my life, notice what is dead and what is growing, and cultivate a life-giving practice. I try practices which renew my spirit and raise my awareness of God’s active presence in my life. (In this chapter of my life, fasting doesn’t provide renewal and heightened awareness for me — I fixate on “deprivation” more so than I hear and see God. Maybe one day that will change.) One year, I learned how to pray the rosary. Another year, I explored breath prayers. Once, I replace watching TV with an emphasis on hospitality by planning and sharing meals with friends.

But yesterday, when I attended our beautiful ecumenical Ash Wednesday service with St. Martha and St. Mary’s Anglican Church and the Justus Lipsius Catholic Community, I didn’t have any ideas for Lent. I sat uncomfortably praying to God to give me some idea or focus for this season. What needs to be cleared away and what needs to be cultivated?

Then our priest, Jack, said something in the homily which arrested my attention: “Quite literally, the human body is composed of, among other things, roughly 50% oxygen, 10% hydrogen, and 30% carbon… dust we are, and to dust we shall return. Lent is not about beating ourselves for wrongdoing, mea culpa, mea culpa. Lent is about remembering the dignity of what we are: we are dust, and when Christ came to us, he came as dust.”

Over the course of these forty days, I am looking to recover the dignity of what I am in light of this incarnate God of dust. Man does not live by bread alone, Jesus said during his own forty days of wilderness desolation, implying by those words that man most certainly does live by bread. Later, bread would become the chief medium through which Christian celebrate the presence of Christ. So for Lent this year, I’ll be cultivating a practice of bread.

Before the advent of commercial yeast, bread was made by fermenting water and flour slowly, over time. The bacteria naturally present in the flour, water and air are fed daily and bubble up, over time, into an active and vibrant community of yeast. A practice that requires discipline and dedication and perception, cultivating wild yeast is a practice of mystery.

In his extraordinary work of culinary devotion called The Supper of the Lamb, Father Robert Farrar Capon expresses the depth of what it means to live by bread: “The company that forms around our dinner tables, they actually create our humanity… food is precisely an epiphany of the greatness of our nature… it is a sacrament, a real presence of the gorgeous mystery of our being” (p. xxvi).

Over the next forty days, I will attempt to cultivate a practice of bread-making, a labor of love and perception and epiphany. I’ll take a few notes each week and share them with you here. If you’re in Leuven, come over for a visit to taste and see the results of this practice! And if you don’t object, would you share your Lenten practice with me? What practice of awareness and renewal is God calling you to this year?

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of leading intercessions at our church. Shaped by thoughts from friends and by a challenging reflection written by Jacob, this is what we prayed… 

Stones have a special character in Judaism. After the miraculous crossing of the River Jordan, stones were erected to remember that God had rescued his people. In the Bible, an altar is a pile of stones upon which one makes an offering to God. Today, in Jewish cemeteries, you will not see flowers on the graves. Instead, there are stones, small and large, piled without pattern on the grave. There is something fitting about the antiquity and solidity of the Jewish symbol of a stone. In moments when we face the fragility of life, memorial stones remind us that there is permanence amidst the pain. While other things fade, stones and souls endure. On this Holocaust Memorial Sunday, I invite you to join me for a time of intercessions, after which you are welcome to lay a stone here in memorial of those who suffered and died.

Today, we take care to remember the evils of the Holocaust and nurture the memories of the victims, survivors, rescuers, and resistors. We remember other genocides and wars, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur and Syria. We remember our own responsibility to show fierce love for our neighbors and bring God’s shalom to earth, that violence and injustice may cease.

In the extra-biblical Hebrew tradition, there is a prayer attributed to Mordecai, the uncle of Queen Esther. The words are fitting for this memorial day. Let us pray with Mordecai, who lived in days of trouble and peril:

O Lord, Lord, King who rulest over all things, for the universe is in thy power and there is no one who can oppose thee if it is thy will to save Israel. For thou hast made heaven and earth and every wonderful thing under heaven, and thou art Lord of all, and there is no one who can resist thee… O Lord God and King, God of Abraham, spare thy people; for the eyes of our foes are upon us to annihilate us, and they desire to destroy the inheritance that has been thine from the beginning. Do not neglect thy portion, which thou didst redeem for thyself out of the land of Egypt. Hear my prayer, and have mercy upon thy inheritance; turn our mourning into feasting, that we may live and sing praise to thy name, O Lord. (Esther 13.9-11, 15-17 RSVCE)

Amen.