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A Prayer for Victims of Racial Violence and Injustice

February 26, 2012. A 17 year old, unarmed Black teen named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked home from a convenience store. His killer was not even arrested at the time. Following outrage from around the country, he was eventually arrested and charged; only to be acquitted a year later. Unfortunately, Trayvon’s story is not an anomaly. It is a story all too familiar to BIPoC communities. Police brutality has been the norm for decades in America. Black citizens, men and boys in particular, are murdered by the hand of authority figures sworn to serve and protect the community. Since we learned Trayvon Martin’s name eight years ago, we have learned the names of so many others whose lives have been senselessly taken. 

Each Friday at Augsburg, we hold 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence in honor of our brother, George Floyd and all those victims of police brutality and White supremacy. 

Silence though, is not enough. 

We must not let George Floyd and Trayvon Martin become just statistics. Their names must be spoken in order that they remain in our collective conscience. It is the least we can do, as we continue our work to end the violence against BIPoC communities due to White body supremacy. 

Today and every day, let us speak their names. 

Trayvon Martin

George Floyd

Tamir Rice

Michael Brown

Eric Garner

Philando Castile

Breonna Taylor

Elijah McClain

Terence Crutcher

Alton Sterling

Freddie Gray

Botham Jean

Bettie Jones

Laquan McDonald

Tyree Davis

Those whose names we do not know

Those whose names we have since forgotten

 

Prayer: 

Most merciful God, let us continue to speak the names of your Beloved, our siblings whose earthly lives ended too soon because of violence and hatred. We pray today for an end to White supremacy, systemic racism, and all their effects. We know it is not your way for your Beloved children to kill one another, and certainly not because of the beautiful gift of diversity you have given us. Open our hearts to see one another as you see us. Equip us for the work of dismantling unjust systems and show us a path toward reconciliation and the true peace only you can provide. This we pray in the holy and sacred name of your Beloved, Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

Jenn Luong

Pastoral Intern

A Prayer for Black History Month

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”. This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 20, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century. Negro History Week was the center of the equation. The thought-process behind the week was never recorded, but scholars acknowledge two reasons for its birth: recognition and importance.Woodson felt deeply that at least one week would allow for the general movement to become something annually celebrated. 

At the time of Negro History Week’s launch, Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society:

If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. By 1929, The Journal of Negro History was able to note that with only two exceptions, officials with the State Departments of Educations of “every state with considerable Negro population” had made the event known to that state’s teachers and distributed official literature associated with the event”. Churches also played a significant role in the distribution of literature in association with Negro History Week during this initial interval, with the mainstream and black press aiding in the publicity effort. “When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions”, Woodson wrote in his book The Miseducation of the American Negro. “You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Black History began as a week and grew to cover the month of February. Today we offer a scripture as prayer.

James 1 & Romans 5

Greetings.

Siblings, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting. Mothering Father God is faithful. Our prayer is that the God of hope, joy and faithfulness will strengthen and encourage all people to do the work of justice, social and racial. That all communities offer value and contribute to the common good in our shared sociality. We give thanks to mothering Father God that the suffering of a people  produced perseverance. And perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through  the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Amen

Rev. Babette Chatman

University Pastor

 

 

A Call for Action

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” As Americans, we must reflect on these words all the time. And especially at this moment, when we are dealing with one of the worst health pandemics and finally the awareness to a systematic long-existing pandemic of injustice. This is also a difficult time because, for the first time in America, we have realized that the hate movement in America is alive and growing.

Dr. King and many of the civil rights leaders understood the power of a single conversation. And the power of continuing to be in conversation with our fellow Americans about the most important things, about who we are and what we strive for. And how we live out our values. America is challenged with experimenting with inclusion. Yet, America fails to recognize this challenge. And every time, we fail to realize this challenge, we continue to create communities that don’t know one another, organizations that don’t understand one another, and communities vulnerable to hate and darkness. And so at this moment, at the same time, we have a new president. And it seems like an end to the cycle of hate. Yet this hate can’t be projected to a past president who used it and fueled it to have created it. That hate still exists and if not directly addressed, it will manifest once again in new ways. 

It finally took a health pandemic to finally see the injustice and brutality of the killing of George Floyd and countless others not filmed or known. Injustice in America is legislated by both public and private actors. The time is now to do what is right and see the darkness in the injustice actions that lead us to this moment. It’s time to stand up against state violence here in our own city and corporate greed that manifests economic inequalities and threatens our lives and our planet.  Dr. King’s legacy and dream and call to action are reminders to all us to act now. We must not stop our efforts to make a change but instead lean forward in every effort to start to heal our nation. And we can do that by reflecting on the call and words of Dr. King that only light can drive out darkness, and only love can stamp out hate. As the young poet Laurent Amanda Gorman said, “’Not broken but simply unfinished,” it’s time for us to work towards the work that is unfinished. 

 

Fardosa Hassan

Muslim Student Program Associate

Assistant Director, Augsburg Interfaith Institute

Fifth House Ensemble Chapel Series

In collaboration with the Augsburg Music Department, Campus Ministry is excited to welcome the Fifth House Ensemble to chapel as part of their residency at Augsburg for a 5-part series of Deep Listening. Fifth House Ensemble taps the collaborative spirit of chamber music to create engaging performances and interactive educational programs, forging meaningful partnerships with unexpected venues, artists of other disciplines, educational institutions, and audiences of every type. Fifth House Ensemble will be leading chapel on January 28 & 29, and February 2, 4 & 5. The services will be live streamed on Zoom.

Fifth House Ensemble will partner with Augsburg University to work with students from the school of music, the McPhail Music Center, and the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship for a semester-long residency focused on community and co-creation. Fifth House will work directly with composition students to develop their works and provide guidance through entrepreneurship workshops focusing on life outside of school. In the spirit of community, they will introduce Deep Listening – a mindfulness practice motivated by the idea that communal music-making is everyone’s birthright. Throughout the residency, Fifth House also engages Michael Rohd, Quenna Lené Barrett, Leila Ramagopal Pertl and Brian Pertl for a community-focused project entitled We Are Good, exploring questions about our past, our present, and our future, focusing on the need for mutual respect, shared experience, and open dialogue.

Epiphany: The Light Shines Through Resistance

James 4:7 (NRSV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

As we look to the long Holiday weekend, honoring the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we glean from his radical approach to Social Justice. We hope all will be inspired, shaped, and taught by his example of his nonviolent approach to civil resistance.  He followed the model of civil resistance developed by M.K. Gandhi. He believed that by responding to injustice with civility and to violence with nonviolence, the resister was fulfilling “the Christian doctrine of love.” 

Dr. King believed “We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”  

This second Sunday in Epiphany; the theme of our Call is lifted up. As citizens of the world together we are strengthened to carry on the work of peace and justice together. Encouraged to be nonviolent in our activism, care, and service to our neighbors. Standing in solidarity against the insurrectionist domestic terrorists who violently rushed the US capitol on January 6 seeking to harm government officials, overthrow our government, and destroy Democracy. 

No matter what our political differences are, the Christ child came to bring light and love to all of humanity. May we all follow the way of peace submitting ourselves to God. Resisting the devil, resist the evil lies and untruths he spreads, the seeds of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, elitism, white body superiority, nationalism, and marxism that the soil of division is not and will not be fertile.  

In our calling gentle and merciful God:

“Keep us, we pray, in perfect peace.

Help us to walk together, pray together, sing together, and live together until that day when all God’s children

–Black, White, Indigenious, Brown, and other–

Will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord and of our God, we pray.

Amen.” (MLK)

Babette Chatman

University Pastor

Day of Epiphany

Protesters pushing through the barriers of the Capitol Building;
The sacred American task of the peaceful transition of power interrupted;
Our elected officials scrambling for their safety amid the chaos;
The floor of the Senate invaded;
Shock and dismay sweeping across the country…
All of this today, on the day of the Epiphany:
the day the Christian church celebrates the magi’s encounter with the Christ-child,
the revelation of God coming to earth to dwell among us, to breathe among us,
to bring peace, to bring divine light and love to all peoples, to all nations….

In these hours, we offer our prayers for the safety of our elected officials and for those seeking to restore peace, for leaders speaking truth in the face of falsities espoused by the President of the United States, for the courage for us all to find common ground amid division and disagreement, and for healing for our nation beset by the pandemics of COVID-19 and racism. On this day of the Epiphany, may we light a candle to shine the light of love in our dorms and homes, the light of healing in our neighborhood and communities, the light of hope for our country and the world. May we, together, be light.

My prayer on this shocking day comes from the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. He spoke these words in a speech in 1956, but I have found they have become my prayer on this Epiphany Day.

I pray:

“The urgency of the hour calls for leaders of wise judgment and sound integrity – leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice; leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity.” (MLK)

And I add: May we be such leaders sharing the light of such love in our thoughts, words, and deeds as an Augsburg community, for the sake of each other and for the sake of the world. Amen.

Justin Lind-Ayres
University Pastor
January 6, 2021 – The Epiphany of Our Lord

A Prayer for Hope and Possibility

Scripture: Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

We hear it over and over, 2020, what a year! There are memes floating around on social media, saying 2020 is going to be the next curse word. We all get it, we all feel it. Not much else needs to be said. It has been the year of years, but the calendar says we’re almost through it. 

In a way, we are approaching the end. 

Vaccines are being administered, providing a spark of hope we may be on our way to controlling this pandemic. Yet, healthcare experts warn, we are entering the worst time we’ve seen yet in terms of COVID-19. This happens to coincide with the Winter Solstice, the coldest, darkest time in the lunar year. Harsh political rhetoric and sharp divides are everywhere. Add to this, the plagues of racism, economic injustice, and ecological crisis. It is overwhelming, oftentimes, it seems easier to just say “this is all too much,” and pull the blankets back over our heads. 

Amid the brokenness of the world, the hope and joy of the holiday season are hard to come by, it can be difficult to find reason to celebrate.

They are there. We’ve made it this far, that is in itself reason to celebrate. We’ve found ways to carry on and ways to make it and to help our neighbors make it. We have, numerous times, seen an outpouring of love and humanity all over the country and the world. Communities coming together, pooling resources to help neighbors get through. In a time of division and sadness, when the world feels so heavy, generosity and compassion are everywhere too. 

2020 has been an extended Advent season, waiting and wading through a broken world, we struggled to find hope and joy. We did though, we held to the promise of better, of possibility. We knew at some point, there would be a game-changer. Whether that was a vaccine, or the uprising of a city demanding racial justice, an election, or the birth of a child to a poor, unwed mother in West Asia, we looked ahead with hope. 

As we look toward the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, let us hold tight to the hope and possibility we can work to end the other pandemics that weigh down humanity. We believe in the promise of the Christ-child’s birth, we believe this is the game-changer we await.

Prayer:

God who is, who was, and is to come, as we await your advent here, help us hold tight to the promises you made in covenant with our foreparents. Help us find wisdom in the past and strength to do what needs to be done in the present, help us see the possibilities for a future that sees your will for a compassionate, just world for all become reality. This we ask with confident hope in a God who keeps promises. May it be so.

Jenn Luong, Pastoral Intern

A Prayer for Academic Resilience

An old folk song going back to the Civil Rights Movement is “Keep Your Eye on the Prize.”

 

Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on, hold on, hold on! Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!

Paul and Silas bound in jail. Had no money to go their bail…

Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on, hold on, hold on. Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Paul and Silas began to shout, the jail doors opened and they walked right out.

The only thing we did wrong, was staying in the wilderness too long.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on, hold on, hold on.  Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.

The one thing we did right, was the day we began to fight.

 

Or the original edition of “Keep Your Hand on the Plow” by Mahalia Jackson.

 

Hold on! Hold on! Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.

Hold on! Hold on! Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.

Heard the voice of Jesus say,

“Come unto me, I am the way.”

Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.

When my way gets dark as night,

I know the Lord will be my light.

Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.

 

Hold on friends, hold on.  In spite of all the challenges this pandemic has caused, hold on. Trust that everything will be alright.

Resilience is the ability to beat the odds and bounce back despite failures. It also refers to the ability of a substance or object to spring back into its original shape. Academic Resilience relates to the ability of students to make the effort to succeed despite adverse circumstances of this unprecedented Covid-19 Pandemic, by changing existing behaviors or developing new ones, such as discipline, practice, or planning. All of us have been affected, personally and professionally, by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well as the heightened awareness and activism emerging in the US and around the world in response to incidents of racism and violence. These are times that call for extraordinary resilience on the part of our students, ourselves, our institutions, and our society.

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge God, and God will make your paths.”

Let us pray:

God of all wisdom and knowledge, we pray that you would guide all students, faculty and staff as this fall semester comes to an end.  Trusting in you with all our hearts to lead us toward truth and understanding as we apply ourselves to study, research, and thoughtful reflection. We thank you for all who teach on campus and virtually for the university’s sake. Teach us to continually search for truth, to patiently endure frustration and to lay aside our fear of failure holding on to your promise and faithful presence. Lord when the work seems dark as night, Christ be our light, shine in our academic lives. Give students vision and purpose that they can hold onto. Breathe into all your children of light hope and your Peace that transcends all understanding that will keep our hearts and minds in your Christ Jesus. In your name we pray.  Amen

 

Pastor Babette Chatman

University Pastor

 

Come Now, Breath of God

“Seasons of Love,” one of the iconic songs from the rock musical Rent, sings out: “525,600 minutes…how do you measure, measure a year?” The musical seeks to engage viewers in this question pushing us to view each moment, each minute, each breath through love’s measurements. What if we viewed each of the 525,600 minutes we have/will spend in this 2020 year through the metric of love? Admittedly, it is hard to keep love at the forefront of every moment especially in this year full of challenges we could not imagine this same day back in 2019. 

Today I am thinking about measuring not in minutes but in breaths. The average person takes approximately 20,000 breaths a day (according to WebMD). In a year? You take, on average, 7,300,000 breaths. And likely we rarely pay attention to our breathing; we simply take breathing for granted.

As of today, 275,000 + people in the United States have died from COVID-19 in 2020. We have been accustomed to measuring our days by COVID cases and deaths. We know too well that this disease is transmitted through our breath and kills by attacking the lungs thus hindering the ability to breathe. Today – just this day – 5,500,000,000 breaths will never happen in our country because of COVID-19. How do we measure life expunged? In moments no longer shared? In minutes gone forever? In breaths that will not be breathed? In the face of death, the metric is still love. When we lose loved ones, there is simply no way to quantify the loss when measured through love.

Hearts are heavy with personal and communal loss felt because of COVID-19. This reality has been compounded by racial injustice seen and known through George Floyd’s heart-wrenching death cry, “I can’t breathe.” The world watched this summer as Mr. Floyd was pinned down on pavement by Minneapolis police officers with a knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. His cry has become the rally cry for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities naming the truth of white supremacy and racism rampant in our institutions and in our lives. How can we even begin to measure the breaths of BIPOC extinguished this year due to racialized violence and trauma?! Again, there is simply no way to quantify the love-loss experienced by so many.  

In this Advent season of profound breathlessness, we take up the songs of longing…of pleading to God to come among us. We cry out to God to give us hope, to give us life, to give us mercy, to give us justice, to give breath to our world. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel: give us your saving power! Advent among us! Come Now, Breath of God! 

Indeed, this is our fervent prayer and testimony today – Come Now, Breath of God – for this is the theme and title of our 41st Annual Advent Vespers. At 7 pm tonight (Friday, December 4), the world premiere of the our Advent Vespers will be made available on YouTube. Due to the reality of COVID-19, it is a virtual experience. Join us as a community as we lament and cry out to God for healing and life in and through the pandemics of racism and COVID-19. Join us as together we experience anew the promise of God that meets us in the throes of suffering with the promise of the Christ-child, the one who is the very breath of God! I offer up this prayer, our centering prayer in the Vespers virtual program, in this moment as we wait for the immeasurable breath and unquantifiable love of our God. 

 

Come Now, O Breath of God, 

stir up your power, your pulsating life, and come among us. 

From the tumult of this exasperated world 

rife with the pandemics of coronavirus and racism, 

of climate change and unjust economic systems, 

heed our cry for the need of your advent here.

O Come, Emmanuel, into this breathless world, come:

send your mystic breath anew;

give health to every heaving breast

and strength to all on Liberation’s quest.  

Amen. 

 

Rev. Justin Lind-Ayres

University Pastor

 

 

A Prayer for the Trans Day of Remembrance

Scripture 

Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV)

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to God in heaven. 

 

Each year, between November 13-19, we at Augsburg along with people around the world participate in Transgender Awareness Week. The week culminates on November 20, with Trans Day of Remembrance. Trans Awareness Week brings visibility to Transgender people and the particular issues the community faces. Today, on Transgender Day of Awareness, we remember those who have lost their lives in acts of anti-Trans violence in the last year. 

The state of the world makes it easy to forget or push aside our responsibility to the Transgender community. We have so many other problems, a global pandemic, systemic racism, and on and on. This chaotic time in this chaotic world is exactly why we need this week, and this day. For far too long, and still today, members of the Trans community have been pushed aside, and worse. Dignity, humanity, even the right to exist and live as who they truly are has been denied. Ignorance, misinformation, and plain cruelty continues to foster a society that does not let all of our siblings live out who our God has created them to be, and in some cases, their light to be extinguished too soon.

Prayer

God of all creation, your wisdom, your love and your mystery are boundless. You have many names, which are beyond all gender expression. We give you thanks for the gift of diverse gender identity, expression, and sexuality. We acknowledge the times we deny that gift by holding too tightly to expectations of conformity and norms. We have created these divisions and use them against one another. We know this is not your will or your way. Help us to act mercifully and show grace to all of your people, as you have done for us.

O Mysterious Maker of womxn, men, all that is in between, outside, and none at all. We come before you today with sorrow in our hearts. We remember those who have lost their lives because they did not conform to the gender roles society expects. We lament at the continued suffering, oppression, rejection and struggle of our siblings of all gender identities. Grant them strength, support, and love to accept and be accepted who they are. 

We acknowledge the harm prejudice and ignorance has knowingly and unknowingly caused. Help soften hearts and give wisdom and understanding that in the sight of God, all are equally Beloved simply because of our existence. Open hearts and minds to embrace and support one another so that all may let their light shine before others by living out their Truth. 

In the name of the One who is beyond all norm, amen.

Jenn Luong

Pastoral Intern