Though I am struggling to find a new normal, our world continues to turn. It has been announced that there is hope that the EU will open to American tourists leaving me to wonder if this is good news. Is this over? Can we go back to normal? Or does normal mean that we choose to embrace new holidays and traditions as President Biden demonstrates in making Juneteenth a federal holiday?
I was thrilled to discover this liturgy for Juneteenth Day from the Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America offers this worship resource for the day including a litany inspired by Lift Every Voice and Sing.
I remain uncertain if it is really appropriate for white congregations to sing this black anthem. There is a nice history of the song on the NAACP website that explains why. CNN goes a little bit more in-depth. If your white congregation opts to include the anthem, this would be a great time to use the gifts of other talents on the internet like this one though I can find nothing about licensure.
Or maybe what is needed is some poignant words of poetry to stir heart and soul about the power of Juneteeth. I was stirred by these words from Kenneth Carroll in his poem A People’s Historian. It seems to speak directly to the hymn. Or perhaps Fenton Johnson’s Tired might speak to the languishing so many of us feel in the pandemic and call us to the work of racial justice again.
I am assuming, dear pastor, that you have already done all you can to plan worship for the Sunday. I imagine you have perhaps already recorded or are just catching your breath before leading in person worship on Sunday morning for the first time. I offer one prayer of my own that might add to the work you’ve already done or perhaps it is a prayer to care for your soul in this season where so much weight is heavy on your shoulders.
A Prayer for the Other Side Inspired by Mark 4:35-41 and Job 38:1-11 O God, it has been a whirlwind. We have felt caught up in the storm of change. We have felt stuck, hopeless and confused. We have languished and waited on the other side of whatever will be. O God, let us go across to the other side where you lead us into tomorrow and and next. Lead us through these uncertain winds and across this great sea of possibility to find peace because we have been so afraid. O God, we have felt like we needed to move heaven and earth. It has rested heavy upon our shoulders and we need to know that you will make a way. You will lead us, O God, to the promise of possibility. You will get us to the other side if only we can find a little faith. O God, give us faith. Selah. Selah. Amen.
I know that many of you have already moved to hybrid or in-person worship. I’ve seen questions about liturgical gifts that might bless the regathering of the body of Christ. I hesitate to write something general as it seems that the particulars of each first worship service off-line will depend on so many variables but I would love to help craft something for you. If there is something that I can help imagine with you and your congregation, please contact me.
That’s all I’ve got for you, dear pastor. I am praying for you. I am praying for you so much.