Feb 12, 2019
as prepared February 12, 2019 for the Harris County Commissioners Court
Commissioners, public servants, and members of the public, I bring you greetings from the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Houston. Unitarian Universalism is a religious tradition that celebrates the possibility of goodness within each human heart, the transformative power of love, and the clarifying force of reason. We believe that we need not think alike to love alike. Our communities include atheists and believers in the divine. Our religious communion contains some of the oldest congregations in the United States. The First Parish of Plymouth, Massachusetts, the congregation founded by the Pilgrims, in 1606, and the First Church in Boston are both members. Here in Houston, First Unitarian Universalist is proud to have been the first congregation to desegregate. We continue to be a religious home for all wish to join us: welcoming the GLBT community, declaring that love has no borders, proclaiming that black lives matter, toiling to address climate change, and struggling for democracy.
I invite you into the spirit of prayer.
Close your eyes,
open your ears,
open your minds,
open your hearts.
Oh, spirit of love,
and of justice,
that sometimes lies
and sometimes stirs,
within the human heart,
be with us this morning,
and all the days of our lives.
Help the elected leaders of Harris County,
And all of the political leaders of this country,
and each of us,
remember that we are called to serve the least of these:
refugees fleeing violence,
homeless, gay, lesbian, and transgender youth,
and all those who have no voice in the courts of power.
Help us to remember
that we live in the richest country in the history of the world,
that love calls us to be generous,
that tyranny thrives on inequality,
and that democracy requires equality.
Stir in our hearts,
stir our imaginations,
and open within us the power
to make the dream that Martin Luther King, Jr.
called beloved community
That we may do so
within this generation
I say Amen.
Nov 12, 2018
Tomorrow is Veterans Day,
today marks the hundredth anniversary
of the end of World War I.
Today we offer a prayer
for all of the veterans
and soldiers of the world,
for all of the wounded warriors,
for all who fought for a cause they believed in,
and did not come home,
for all those who did not come home whole,
for all those who felt that after their service,
their country abandoned them.
Today we offer a prayer
for all of those who have been wounded by war
or killed in it,
each was a member of the great family of all souls,
the loss of each was a loss to the human community,
an infinite universe
a capacity for joy
a human creature
who could love or hope or cry or mourn
Today we offer a prayer
in the hopes
human violence will cease,
that peace will come,
that wars will be fought no more,
that swords will be beaten into plough shares.
even as we remember veterans,
we also remember all of those who have been
brave enough to say no to war,
to hold a larger vision of peace,
the peace activists,
the doctors without borders,
the draft dodgers,
the lovers of universal humanity,
they deserve honor
as much as soldiers.
Until we learn to honor
veterans and peace makers
there will never be peace
for as we have often been told
there is no way to peace
peace is the way.
As we hear these words,
let also hold in our hearts
the victims of the fires
in California and this week’s victims of gun violence
in Thousand Oaks, California,
their names include: Cody Coffman, Ian David Long, Justin Meek, Sean Adler, Blake Dingman, Noel Sparks, Daniel Manrique, Jake Dunham, Telemachus Orfanos, Kristina Morisette, and Mark Meza.
May someday we live in a world where the reading of the names of the victims of gun violence become unnecessary.
May someday we live in a world where the destructive fires of climate change no longer rage.
May someday we live in world where peace, love, and justice reign
and there is no more war, or hatred, or violence.
Amen and Blessed Be.
Sep 8, 2016
Note: I recently began working with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World. I am serving as their contact person for faith-based organizing. One of the things I'm doing in that capacity is compiling worship resources for congregations or religious communities committed to solidarity with prisoners. A couple of Sundays ago I preached a sermon on prison abolition at the First Parish in Needham. Tonight I offer this prayer written on the eve of the September 9th prison strike by my longtime collaborator the Rev. Ian White Maher. If you have a worship resource—prayer, hymn, sermon, liturgy or the like—that you'd like to share please get in touch.
Source of life, God, my darling,
Where does the violence come from?
The violence we do to one another.
Where does the cry for vengeance come from?
Some say it comes from you,
But I don’t believe that.
Why is it so hard for us to want to be in love with one another?
My darling, I think sometimes that we are addicted to this violence.
That we wouldn’t know who we’d be without it.
From the tough talk on TV, to the swagger of the gun toters, to the meanness of our politics, to the cages and cages of human beings we have created.
O, God, the cages.
They make me weep.
What have we done? What are we doing?
How can we look at those cages and then look at ourselves in the mirror and think we are a moral people?
I know what goes on in those cages.
I know their purpose is pain.
I know we damage those people, call them predators.
But sometimes I wonder who is the prey.
My darling, how much of my money have I willingly given to this sadism?
To this spectacle of violence?
Sometimes I feel so lost, like a small droplet in a raging ocean.
What can I possibly do?
Please help me, please help us, find our way out of this addiction, out of the cages, and into the Love I believe is possible.
My darling, give me the vision of a cageless future, give me the strength to weather the accusations of treason, give me endurance to work for freedom even if the journey stretches on beyond the length of my life.
But most of all give me Love so I might be the message I hope to see.