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Issues, we all have them!

Matthew 9:20-22

20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment, (KJV)

21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. ( NRSV)

Medical research has a long, troubled racial history. One example is the Tuskegee study, which involved doctors letting black men die from syphilis.

The goal of the United States Public Health Service was to “observe the natural history of untreated syphilis” in black populations, but the subjects were completely unaware and were instead told they were receiving treatment for bad blood when in fact, they received no treatment at all.

Ada McVean B.Sc. writes in her article on the subject “During that time Social Darwinism was rising, predicated on the survival of the fittest, and “scientific racism” (a pseudoscientific practice of using science to reinforce racial biases) was common. Many white people already thought themselves superior to blacks and science and medicine was all too happy to reinforce this hierarchy. Scientific racism was used to justify the African slave trade. Scientists argued that African men were uniquely fit for enslavement due to their physical strength and simple minds. They argued that slaves possessed primitive nervous systems, so did not experience pain as white people did… In order to track the disease’s full progression, researchers provided no effective care as the men died, went blind or insane or experienced other severe health problems due to their untreated syphilis.”

Another example is the case of Henrietta Lacks. She was a poor African-American woman whose cancer cells scientists and drug companies used for decades without her permission. But the list of abuses is long.

It is this history that causes Black Indigenous People Of Color (BIPOC) to distrust the US government and their hesitance to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

 

In Matthew’s gospel there was a woman who also suffered many years under doctors who could do nothing for her disease. This woman was amazing, she was courageous. She didn’t give up or in. She operated out of her hope, and put her faith in a man named Jesus. Just as we have been instructed to practice social distance, wear masks, and constantly wash your hands as a means to avoid contacting the Covid-19 virus. Because of the nature of her disease, she was required, according to Hebrew law, to be isolated from society, not come around others. There are similarities. But she had the courage to go take her healing. She knew within herself that it was there for the taking. Just like our healing, protection and protection for our loved ones is there for the taking. The COVID-19 vaccine has met strict safety standards, followed all the usual steps to ensure that the vaccines are safe, pure and effective.

Beloved, the vaccine provided to all is free and safe and available for all.

I pray that anyone who has reservations or hesitancy about taking the vaccine will have some of that same strength and hope to put their faith and confidence that the government has learned from their mistakes. And that healing is a touch away!

 

Pastor Babette Chatman

 

 

A Prayer for the New

Isaiah 43:16-19 (NRSV)

16 Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings out chariot and horse,
    army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
    they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

It seems that right now, in America, there isn’t much we can agree on. One place we can all find common ground is the upset the pandemic has caused in our lives, no matter what we believe about it. 

Social scientists say that in times of great upheaval, interventions and behavior changes are more likely to stick. In other words, whatever “new” emerges from the disruption created by COVID-19 may have staying power. 

“New” isn’t easy. “New” disrupts us and upends the comfortable and familiar. Instead of plunging ahead, our first instinct is to dawdle, actively or passively resist, and feel nostalgia for what is passing away. As the pandemic wore on, we no longer had the luxury to resist. The circumstances of our lives were changed. 

A global pandemic forced you and me out of our usual habits. Staying home, we accidentally nurtured God’s creation. Before the Great Pause, it was hard just to imagine a clear, pollution-free sky. We nurtured one another, we took time to check in on our friends and family, and showed love and concern for neighbors we may not have met or would not have reached out to otherwise. 

We were—and still are, despite the end being in sight—at a moment that calls to mind John’s vision of “a new heaven and a new earth” in Revelation and of God proclaiming, in Isaiah 43 “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

If what social science says is true, these new habits of caring for creation, and caring for one another may be more likely to stick. As vaccines become more available, and we are free from the constraints of this virus, let us not fall back into the former things, let us go forward, embracing the new thing that God is doing. 

Prayer: God of all things, old and new, help us to perceive the new thing you are about to do. Give us strength and courage in these times of great upheaval, guide us toward the actions that help make the new things stick. New ways of being a part of your creation and your community. Let our patterns of living reflect the love you have for the world and for all of us. May these actions help us and our neighbors forget the former ways of racism, violence, hatred and division. Let us go forth in the new ways you make in the post-pandemic wilderness. All this we ask in the precious, holy name of Jesus. Amen.

Jenn Luong

Pastoral Intern

Blessing the Feet

This particular Friday in March is the traditional day Campus Ministry would offer in chapel worship a blessing for all travelers heading into Spring Break. It is, after all, our final day before the break. Auggie Sport teams, short-term study abroad students, and participants in Campus Ministry’s Alternative Spring Break Habitat for Humanity build would all be lifted up in prayer for safe travels and meaningful experiences in their organized trips. In addition, our prayers would accompany all who travel over the break for home-goings, destination respites, and other needed vacations or travel. But of course, like last year, many such trips and activities are not happening in this same way. COVID-19 is looming large for the second year as Spring Break begins.

And still, we in Campus Ministry want to offer up a blessing for you and for all. I’m calling it, “Blessing the Feet.” Though travel may be curtailed and trips postponed, our feet (or wheels) will take us somewhere in the days ahead. Maybe not across country or to new ventures, but we will find our feet situating us in a particular place and space. So, may your feet be blessed! 

The prophet Isaiah proclaimed,  

“How beautiful upon the mountains
 are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
 who brings good news,
 who announces salvation,
 who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” (Isaiah 52:7)

Wherever you go in the days ahead, look to your feet – your beautiful feet! See how they are carrying you into opportunities and settings that may call for peace, for good news, for healing, for rest and renewal, for the unfolding of salvation in our very midst. Bless your feet! 

We pray:

God of Zion, God of Minneapolis:

You call us to walk your way of peace and reconciliation. 

Bless all these beautiful feet moving us to work out your reign of mercy and love in the world. 

Bless the feet of all who travel in these day – may safety prevail.

Bless the feet of those who go home – may welcome prevail.

Bless the feet of activists pounding the streets yearning for change – may justice prevail.  

Bless the feet trending the walkways of COVID-19 – may healing prevail. 

Bless the feet of all who take a moment to stand still – may rest prevail. 

Bless our beautiful feet as they lead us to the peoples and places needing 

to hear and feel your good news in the their lives. 

This we pray in Jesus’ name, who walked for us and walks with us. Amen. 

 

Pastor Justin Lind-Ayres

University Pastor

March is recognized as Women’s History Month

According to excerpts from A Proclamation on Women’s History Month credited to President Biden:  

“Each year, Women’s History Month offers an important opportunity for us to shine a light on the extraordinary legacy of trailblazing American women and girls who have built, shaped, and improved upon our Nation. 

As we celebrate the contributions and progress of women and girls, we must also reflect on the extraordinary and unequal burdens they continue to bear today. 

 Sixty years ago, when former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt confronted President John F. Kennedy about the lack of women in Government, he appointed her as head of a new commission to address the status of women in America and take on discrimination in all of its forms…NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2021 as Women’s History Month.  I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.  I also invite all Americans to visit www.WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the vital contribution of women to our Nation’s history.”

On March 8, a series of events will take place at George Floyd Square (38th Street and Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis). 

A call to prayer will begin at 8:00 a.m. Bells will be rung for one minute; then 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence will honor George Floyd’s life; this will be followed by one additional minute of bell ringing. (Congregations and individuals are invited to ring bells at this time as a commemoration of this memorial.) 

If you haven’t already, go and like the Facebook page “Prayers for Justice for George Floyd and Black Liberation”. The “Global Day of Prayer” event is listed on the page. There you will find details about the day, and ways you can get involved. Please share it widely! Here’s the link to the event: https://fb.me/e/zozjurNL

In honor of Women’s History Month we join our prayers, hopes and appreciation for the many female identified, gifted leaders who work tirelessly from the shadows to do the healing work for Justice, Peace, Equity and Inclusion. 

We offer this Prayer:  

God of justice be gracious to all who align their hearts and minds to be in agreement with this prayer. Be gracious with those who do not. We ask that you listen to the hearts of all who are suffering during this time of Pandemic, season of change, anticipation of justice denied, and also those who suffer in silence. We pray for health and wholeness, for peace yoked to justice, for all who labor tirelessly on the frontlines of this fight against the Covid-19 virus. We pray for care and comfort for the families and loved one of the 520,000+ victims who have lost their lives to this virus. We pray for the many people who are being strategically and systematically denied their rights to exercise their rights to vote and participate in a democratic society.

Your Word, oh God, in Proverbs 3:27 and Romans 13:7 says give honor to whom honor is due. In obedience to your  word we take time to honor this month Women, for all the ways they love, lead, serve, care, nurture, protect, instruct, heal, and oh God this list goes on and on.

We thank and praise you, Mothering Father God, for you are a God of justice, blessed are all those who wait for you. Be gracious we pray in the name of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, comforter of all.

Amen

 

Babette Chatman 

University Pastor

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

 

 

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

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