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A Prayer for Justice

On April 11, 2021, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man,was fatally shot in the chest by police officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop. Authorities said that Potter meant to use her taser, but accidentally used her gun instead.

Two days later, Potter and Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon resigned from their positions. Potter was convicted of first-degree and second degree manslaughter on December 23, 2021, at a jury trial of her peers.  On February 18, 2022, she was sentenced to two years in prison, with credit for time served. Directed to serve two-thirds time in prison and one-third on house arrest. Once again, justice for a family was denied. The system fails our community again.  

Today, we witnessed once again a broken Justice System fail to provide justice for its citizens, namely Daunte Wright and his family. Without justice there can be no peace.

To our Augsburg Community, today we name the sadness and trauma of the sentencing. We name Daunte Wright. Amir Locke who was also recently killed by the police. Use what strength you have to take care of yourself, family and friends. Pay attention to your bodies for the trauma the verdict releases.Anger, frustration and disappointment are natural reactions to such a disservice to a community. Know that it is alright to not be alright. We are a people who deeply care, acknowledging this is who you are. Sometimes I can’t find the words. Today I offer this prayer for our beloved Augsburg University community from @blackliturgies

Tender God,

Some days our sadness feels too much to hold. It shackles us to our bed. It colonizes even our deepest joys. Would you hold it with us? Would you let our beds be our restoration and not our guilt? Keep us from speaking those secret words of self-hatred that demand that we carry our pain in some other way, that tells us to conquer sadness instead of feeling it. Help us to be weak. That holy weakness that doesn’t sneer at itself, but allows us to see that we are no less dignified because of our tears. Help us to be tender with ourselves, patient with those wounds which we can’t seem to put words to. Guide us toward communities that don’t force us to explain with sadness or coerce us into expressing it in any particular way on any particular timeline. And as we do our best to live, grant us the resolve to care for our bodies. To use what strength we have to make small steps toward loving our bodies and minds best we can.

Pastor Babette Chatman

University Pastor and Director of Campus Ministry

Advent Vespers 2021 Devotional

As part of the Advent Vespers experience, Campus Ministry offers Advent Devotional booklet with daily devotions written by religion department faculty, campus pastors, alumni, President Pribbenow, and other members of the Augsburg community. The Advent Devotional Booklet is available online.

You can also read each devotion daily:

Friday, December 3: Luke 1:26-33 – Babette Chatman 

Saturday, December 4: The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came (stanzas 1 & 2) – Kristina Frugé 

Sunday, December 5: Luke 1:46-55  – Tori Remer

Monday, December 6: Matthew 24:30-35 – Jeni Grangaard 

Tuesday, December 7: Psalm 121 – Ross Murray 

Wednesday, December 8: Psalm 91:9-16 – Jeremy Myers 

Thursday, December 9: Isaiah 52:7-10 – Russell Kleckley 

 

Friday, December 10: Revelation 5:11-13 – Dana Nissen

Saturday, December 11: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (stanza 1) – Adrienne Eldridge 

Sunday, December 12: Psalm 148:1-2, 13 – Amanda Vetsch

Monday, December 13: All My Heart Again Rejoices (stanza 1) – Justin Lind-Ayres

Tuesday, December 14: All My Heart Again Rejoices (stanza 2) – Mark Sedio 

Wednesday, December 15: All My Heart Again Rejoices (stanza 3)Phil Quanbeck 

Thursday, December 16: Philippians 4:4-7 –  Marty Wyatt 

 

Friday, December 17: Love Has Come (stanza 1) – Andrea Sorum 

Saturday, December 18: Angels, From the Realms of Glory (stanzas 1 & 4) – Destyn Land 

Sunday, December 19: From Heaven Above (stanzas 1, 2, 14) – Lori Brandt Hale 

Monday, December 20: Psalm 96:1-9  – Janice Dames

Tuesday, December 21: Angels We Have Heard on High (stanzas 1 & 2) – Mark Hanson

Wednesday, December 22: Isaiah 9:6-7 – Mark Tranvik 

Thursday, December 23: Silent Night (stanzas 1 & 2) – John Rohde Schwehn 

Friday, December 24: Luke 2:8-14 –  Matt Maruggi 

 

Saturday, December 25: Colossians 3:12-17  – Paul Pribbenow 

 

The 2021 Advent Vespers Service “Angel Voices, Again Now Sing” is now available for viewing on the Augsburg Music Department YouTube Channel.

Reflection on Junteenth

Scripture:

Psalm 78:1-8 (Inclusive Translation, adapted)

My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from of old-the things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We won’t hide them from our children, we will tell the next generation. We’ll tell them of your praiseworthy deeds, YHWH, your power, and the wonders you have performed. You set up statutes for our forebears, and established the Law in Israel, which you commanded our ancestors to teach their children so the next generation would know them-children yet to be born-and as they come up, they would tell their own children. Then they would put their trust in you and not forget your deeds, but keep your commandments—unlike their ancestors. 

Reflection:

Juneteenth (short for June nineteenth) recognizes the declaration that all enslaved shall be set free.  It has been called the “longest running African-American holiday” or “America’s second Independence Day.” While emancipation from a life of slavery is most certainly cause for celebration, the narrative that follows the formerly enslaved and the next generations is not a continuation of the joyful festivities. Rather, it marks the beginning of a system of oppression of Black (and other People of Color) in this country that continues today. 

While the 13th Amendment no longer forced the African Diaspora into lives of slavery, they were not and are not granted the freedom and opportunity the Constitution gives to people of European decent (White men). Immediately, efforts began to disenfranchise those newly declared citizens, efforts that are literally being played out across America, right now. The controversy surrounding what has been and is taught in American schools around history and race are boiling over. Almost 200 years later, this country is still finding new ways to deny the agency of BIPoC communities. 

The psalmist laments this very thing. America has not told the truth about the history of this country, we have hidden it from the next generation. We have not listened to what our ancestors of Color have tried to tell us. We have not listened to all of God’s people and heard the teachings. We have not followed God’s Law.  We have not told the whole story throughout the generations. How then, can the generations to come learn to keep the commandments and not make the same mistakes our ancestors made? First, we must all acknowledge the truth of race in American and commit to stop hiding it from our children. It is only then we can all live fully in the freedom granted in the Constitution and more importantly, in God’s Law. 

Prayer:

As we mark this day, we are grateful for the liberation you have already given. We thank you for the freedom given through the gift of grace. We pray for confidence in your forgiveness, that our hearts may be opened to acknowledge and reconcile the truth of racism. 

We pray for change. Change the easy peace we make with ourselves into discontent because of the oppression of others. Change our tendency to defend ourselves into the freedom that comes from being forgiven and empowered through your love. Change our need for disguises, excuses, and images into the ability to be honest with ourselves and open with one another. Change our inclination to judge others into a desire to serve and uplift others. And most of all, change our routine faith into genuine encounters with you and our better selves so that our lives will be changed for the good of all, letting us give ourselves to one another in a joyful, liberated community of justice and peace.

May it be so.

Jenn Luong

Pastoral Intern

A Prayer for the Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine

On Wednesday evening June 17, 2015, a young white man who was raised in/associated with the Lutheran church (ELCA) sat for a hour-long Bible study at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina. After receiving hospitality from this group of faithful followers to whom he was a stranger and after sharing in the group’s study and prayer, the white man shot and slain nine people as an act of racist violence and terror. Six years later, words fall woefully short in the face of such evil actions perpetuated by false narratives of white body supremacy wedged within the institutions of our American society, including the Lutheran church of which Augsburg University is affiliated. Sorrow and rage, heartache and grief, anguish and death: the evils of racism, white nationalism, and systemic oppression have yielded these foul fruits. White America and the predominantly white church of the ELCA (of which I am a part) are the “what” that fomented that young white’s man act. We are complicit. 

But God. God calls us to confess, repent, and repudiate our (white-bodied peoples) role in the systems of discrimination and oppression calculatingly designed to marginalize Black, Indigenous, People of Color. God is always calling us – individually and communally – to life and companionship within the beautiful beloved community. But this can only happen by way of truth-telling. So, we commemorate the Emanuel Nine and name the truths of who we are and who God is calling us to be. We speak truth, we confess, we seek forgiveness, we lament, we listen, and we act for the sake of reconciliation and reparations…we act ever-so-imperfectly in order that all may live. May we the privileged be purged of our false narratives of supremacy as we recommit ourselves to God’s vision of abundant life for all humanity, and indeed, all of creation. 

The truth calls us to remember and honor the Emanuel Nine, so we name these saints of God here and now:

Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Cynthia Maire Graham Hurd

Susie Jackson

Ethel Lee Lance

Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor

Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders

Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons

Rev. Myra Singleton Quarles Thompson

Rev. Clementa Pinckney

 

From the prophet Amos, the fifth chapter:

“Seek good and not evil,
    that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
    just as you have said.
 Hate evil and love good,
    and establish justice in the gate…

…let justice roll down like waters, 

and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” 

(Amos 5:14-15, 24)

We pray: 

God of justice, God of righteousness:

Hold all who grieve and weep at the atrocities committed on June 17, 2015 at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. For racism, yet again, violated the sanctity and sanctuary of your church, and the study of your word of life was cut short by violence and death. We name the evil that besets our land and the norms of our nation and churches rooted in white supremacy and systems of racial injustice. We repent of our own complicity in these systems that marginalize Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. And we pray for your ever-flowing stream of mercy to sweep us along into a new day full of actions working to dismantle the white-bodied supremacy within and around. On this day, we honor and remember the Emanuel Nine, whose lives were cut short by a terrorist act of hatred. God of healing, continue to comfort the family and friends of the Emanuel Nine even as we trust you hold your dear saints in eternal light and love. Establish justice at the gates and justice in our hearts as we learn together to walk your way of goodness and truth. This we pray, in lamentation, amid suffering, and through the hope that is in you, Christ Jesus, the embodiment of reconciliation and love. Amen. 

[The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has created prayers, litanies, and laments for the commemoration of the Emanuel Nine produced; these resources can be found here:

https://www.elca.org/emanuelnine. ]

By Rev. Justin Lind-Ayres 

University Pastor

A Prayer for Trinity Ottoson-Smith, age 8

Trinity Ottoson-Smith, age 8, is the second young child to fall victim to senseless gun violence in Minneapolis. She lost her fight after 12 days Thursday evening.  Her father Raishawn Smith, “God got her now.” wrote on his social media. May her light shine on in eternity.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) That her suffering in this life would cease. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:14)

This Memorial Day weekend families will gather, participate in parades, visit cemeteries and memorials, using this time of honoring men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, rightfully so. The Civil War may have ended in the spring of 1865, but there is another war that needs immediate attention, the War against Guns and Street Violence.  Unfortunately, Trinity’s parents and loved ones will gather to plan the funeral service to honor her young life cut short way too soon. 

With tender hearts, we offer this scripture and prayer:

For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love. (Lamentations 3:31-32)

Dear Mothering Father God, we bring every grieving parent, relative, and friend of Trinity’s into your throne of grace, that they might receive mercy. Lord, they are going through a lot of pain and heart ache as a result of her death. It is not an easy thing for a parent to bury their child. God of compassion comforts them. Fill them with a deep sense of peace and grace. Move the community around them to help and support them to gain justice. Help them to continue being faithful to you even through the pain. Surround them with your love and fill the void left in their hearts with hope. Asking, oh God, that each day they will grow stronger, your light shine in their moments of darkness, and that the joyful memories of Trinity sustain them.

In the spirit and powerful name of Jesus, we believe and pray. Amen.

Rev. Babette Chatman

University Pastor

A Reflection in honor of George Perry Floyd on the one year anniversary of his deat

When Mary (Bridget) came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 (Jesus) said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep.38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  John 11:32-39

 

Most of us didn’t know you, and yet we all wept at your senseless death. Your words now echo in eternity “I can’t breathe”. Your name added to the list of victims of the system of Policing.

Mr. Floyd, I go back often to the image and sound of your voice calling out for your “Momma”. Helplessly begging for relief from under the pressure of former officer Chauvin’s knee on your neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Your humanity ignored and violated by persons covenant to protect and serve, they failed you. They failed us all. But you were not alone in your suffering, your community was there pleading on your behalf. 

And every “Momma” responded to the cries of your voice, as did every father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, friend and activist. 

George, God wept at your death, and I trust that Mothering God was there, when you took your last breath. She did not leave nor forsake you. And your cries, your death inspired and unleashed a movement of protest uprising around the WORLD!

Malcolm X said “That’s not a chip on my shoulder, but your foot on my neck.”, today 365 days after your death, Chauvin’s knee on your neck, visible to the world, the Community has a chip on it’s shoulder. 

A chip that says Policing must be reformed. 

A chip that says you can’t destroy George Floyd’s character to justify his death. 

A chip resulted in the bill for George Floyd Justice in Policing act.

I believe Jesus was disturbed at the violence of your public lynching.

I believe, when you called, God sent angels to minister to you. And I believe, we are all called to “take away the stone.”

The stone of systemic Racism

The stone of the Empire

The stone of Hererosexism

The stone of Ableism

The stone of Classism

The stone of Ageism

The stone of Cissexism

The stone of Gun violence 

Take away the stone of violence within our communities, now!

Mr George Floyd, today we are all invited to self-reflect,  sit in reflective silence, to gather in community  to “Rise and Remember” and tomorrow with chips on our shoulders, get to moving The Stone.

Ase and Amen!

 

Rev. Babette Chatman

 

Aniya Allen, 6 Years of Age

Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” 

Very young Aniya Allen of Minneapolis now rests in eternity. This sweet six year-old was in the car with her mother when gun violence broke out around them. Her earthly light has been snuffed out much too soon, and a community grieves her death and the persistent evil of gun violence in our culture. Precious in the sight of the Lord, may perpetual light shine on dear Aniya Allen.  

James Keller stated, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another.” I have this image of Aniya being a candle whose flames will draw deeper attention to the impact all this violence is having on OUR children. Trinity Ottoson-Smith (age 8) and Ladavionne Garrett Jr. (age 10) also victims of gun violence in Minneapolis; and abroad, 40 Palestinian children killed, 54 injured. Who are we, that this evil has gone unchecked? And OUR children pay the price.  Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for triumph of evil is for good men/people to do nothing”

May we take advantage of Aniya’s flame and light our candles for change, for justice, and for peace. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). I don’t have the words; I can’t make sense of it. My heart, our hearts ache for her family. We must honor her, we must weep and wail in solidarity with her family. 

With tender hearts, we offer this scripture and prayer:

“But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.’” (Mark 10:14)

Loving Mothering Father God of compassion, we bring every grieving parent, grandparent, sibling, family member and friend before your throne of Grace, so that they might receive comfort. They are overwhelmed with sorrow, emotional pain, and confusion right now. The heartache of Aniya’s parents having to plan the funeral of their 6 year-old child; the parents of Trinity and Ladavionne sitting holding vigil at their bedsides as they fight for their lives from bullet wounds; the parents of Palestinian children that will no longer see tomorrow; the parents of children we will never know lamenting the death of your beloved little ones on account of this world’s violence. Our hearts are breaking: we cry, Christ have mercy; make the violence stop; bring peace to your people. And we beseech you, hold all your children in your eternal embrace, the flame of their lives forever burning bright in your presence. Amen. 

Pastor Babette Chatman

Pastor Justin Lind-Ayres

University Pastors

A Prayer for India

The scene from India has been described in apocalyptic terms. Indeed, the images of funeral pyres burning in city streets and the long lines of COVID-patient filled ambulances desperate for bedspace in over-crowded hospitals are surreal. Yet, these images depict the reality of our siblings in India suffering the horrid effects of a double-mutant COVID-19 variant. Real people, real suffering, real lives lost, real heartbreak. As people scramble in India and around the world to assist in this crisis, we can feel helpless thousands of miles away. Yet, there are some things we can do. Check-in on your India-American neighbors, colleagues, classmates, and friends who may have family or friends in India and offer them emotional support or a listening ear. If able, give funds to a reputable social service agency on the ground in India. (If you are looking for one, Lutheran World Relief is serving in India and other countries in dire need https://lwr.org/.) And finally, join us in Campus Ministry in prayer. 

 

Let us pray:

God of all nations and Divine Designer of our interconnected human family:

As images erupt on our screens from around the globe,

we weep for our siblings suffering from COVID-19. 

So many to pray for in these hours, 

but in this particular moment we hold out before you 

your beloved who home themselves in India. 

The devastation brought on by this disease is nearly unfathomable. 

We dare to pray: get to work, O God of Easter; 

confront the maw of death with your resurrection promise. 

Bring comfort, bring restoration, bring life again.

Stir up advocates, healers, government officials, and global partners 

to assist in this time of great need.

Sustain those with relational ties to India who suffer from afar as they

watch and wait to hear about people and places they hold dear.

This we pray as we join in the suffering and pray for the healing of our global village. 

Amen.   

 

Pastor Justin Lind-Ayres

A Prayer of Support, Strength, and Grace for our Karen Community

Nick Schifrin of NPR reports:

Two months ago, the Myanmar military staged a coup and overthrew the civilian government and has since met resulting protests with violence. The conflict is now entering a new stage as militias associated with the country’s ethnic minorities join the protests, with Karen refugees facing new air attacks by the military. Thousands have already fled into neighboring Thailand. 

The Karen Organization of Minnesota is deeply concerned about the violent actions of the military in Burma that undermines efforts towards a democracy and continues to violate human rights.  For the Karen people, this coup has ushered in chaos, violence, and forced relocation.  In the month preceding the coup, attacks on Karen villages by the Burmese military increased significantly. In some areas of Karen State within Burma, such as in Brigades 1, 3 and 5, there has been ongoing fighting since then. As a result, thousands have had to flee and hide in the jungle.  So far, over 5,000 people have been displaced by these violent attacks.

 

In the spirit of unity, justice and change, we offer a prayer for the community supporting the Karen people in Myanmar and all people who suffer in chaos, violence and forced relocation as result of the Myanmar Civil War and advocacy for Human Rights. 

May the souls of all beings move from suffering to liberation, from hate to love, injury of violence to pardon, from despair to hope.

In this time of great darkness, may the strength and support of this Augsburg community shine light and bring joy to your sadness.

And as people of faith grant that we seek to become informed and enlightened so that we are sensitive to the pains of our neighbors and respond with care; offering comfort, consoling and advocating for liberation and justice for the people of Myanmar.

Amen

Pastor Babette Chatman

 

Look, I am tiredddddddd. 

A Reflection by Brandon Williams ’19

Brandon Williams is an Augsburg University alumni (Class of 2019) with a degree in Political Science in the Pre-Law track. He served as President of the Augsburg Day Student Government and was an active member of his school community.

Brandon interned with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and legally assisted a private criminal defense attorney, gaining valuable insight into local government and the criminal justice system. Brandon has also been asked to present at major university functions, testify before U.S. Representative and Senate committees, and speak at the State Capitol. 

Since September 2019, he has been in the position of Criminal Justice and Safe Communities Intern at the Minneapolis Foundation for the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Area.

Here is Brandon’s recent reflection shared with his permission:

Look, I am tiredddddddd. 

Not tired in the sense that I will get to turn away and process everything. Not tired in the sense that I can’t handle the constant feelings of hopelessness and frustration in this city, state and country. Not tired in the sense that I have to be a soldier in a battle for morals when it seems like the most “powerful” soldiers are fighting against it (I know it ain’t true but these are governmental entities). I’m not tired because I want this all to go away. I’m also not tired because I’m committed to work that forces our black people to support others, even when we haven’t had the chance to process our own grief and frustration.

I’m tired because I saw a news article and followed the story yesterday and hoped that – for any reason – that this wasn’t over no b*******. Yes, I did. And yet again, during a trial of similar circumstances, I find myself trying to have hope for a system that is literally killing us. I am tired of how common it is for my people to be treated like animals and then having it covered by news outlets and tv shows to demonstrate the realities we face and portray what is obvious. I know I’m not the only one that’s unsatisfied because most of these attempts are washed down and general.

My mother, along with my seven younger siblings, live close to this area and I hate that I have to go through a panic attack when things like this come up. The worst part is that I know there are people like me who have to be strong enough to not display that panic attack in an attempt to be an agent of peace, sanity and togetherness during these times. However, DO NOT mistake our modesty and grief for cowardness or an inability to show emotions because we show up and force change as well. I hope everyone finds some time for self care, whether that be through caring for others or taking time to process what is happening in your community.

BUT MANNNNN, I AM TIRED. but I continue to move forward for that cute little prince and to promote justice for that King and many others who won’t be here to influence the next generations about all that they have learned in life  

May God protect us all, and for those who don’t feel that is enough, may we protect each other

Brandon Williams ’19