17 October 2009

Tonight I saw a man die...

I was late for the bus tonight as I got off work, so I went for a walk around the perimeter of the Great Mall whilst waiting for the next Bus 70. A crowd had gathered around the parking garage, and curious, I tiptoed through the swarm to see what was going on. A young man, obviously shot, was curled on the asphalt drifting between life and death. I could see that he was horrified, frightened, and astounded that yes, he was going to die this very night, in front of all these people. He was aware that he was going to die when he clearly did not want to die. I could only fathom the pain he felt knowing that his last few moments on this earth would be spent bleeding to death in front of strangers instead of being surrounded by the love and warmth of his family.

I felt for this man, and I could only feel compassion for him. It broke my heart to know that among the crowd there was not a loving face to look to, or least a familiar face to focus on. If only I could, I would have held his hand and reassured him that everything would be alright. Somehow, I felt my spirit prompting me (to borrow a Pentecostal term) to say something. My heart wanted to reach out to him and yell over the murmuring crowd, “You are God’s beloved child. He loves you, and embraces you now. He welcomes you home.”

And I didn’t say a word. I DID NOT SAY A WORD. I just stood there like the rest of that heartless crowd. I let that man die without knowing he was loved by God, and that it wasn’t God’s will that he should die like this without somebody caring. I failed my God, and I feel guilty. So fucking guilty over it. How could I let him die like that? How could I let this broken figure, this icon of the Crucified Christ, feel alone in his final moments? I could have said something over the crowd, but no, I just waited for him to breathe his final breath. After the medics pronounced him dead, it was only then that I said a prayer of commendation.

What also pained me was that I knew this young man wasn’t a crime statistic in the San Francisco Bay Area, but that this man was a living human being – the image of God – who loved, felt, and had dreams. To know that his man had possibilities and such potential, then to be turned into worm food within hours just devastated me. He will never realize his dreams, he will never marry, he will never walk his daughter down the aisle, and he will never spend the last of his days tending his own vine or resting under his own fig tree. This man could have been a Supreme Court justice, my child’s schoolteacher, or even the very person who may discover the cure to AIDS.

Tonight, I mourn this possible agent of God’s redemptive grace and creative power in the world. It makes me think, by God, that could have been me, or that could be me tomorrow. Have I lived every moment to the fullest? I must live in the present. The past has no hold over the present, and tomorrow may not be mine. Therefore I choose to live in Christ’s promise of life, and to have it in all its fullness.

Dear God, I’m so sorry. I let that man die without knowing that you loved him, and that he was your beloved child. I failed to show your love, and I stood there with that gawking crowd waiting for him to die. I did not tell him that you did not want this terrible thing to happen to him. I let him lie there feeling abandoned by you, his loving Creator and Redeemer. I did not reassure him that you cared. I’m so sorry. In his final moments, I failed to be your agent of love and grace. God, please forgive me. Please. I lacked the courage to do it. I’m so sorry.

5 October 2009

A Eucharistic Prayer for the Brokenhearted

This was written spur of the moment. Communal responses are from Psalm 62. Introduction to the Preface and the Words of Institution are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979, with the Tridentine phrase "mystery of faith" inserted therein. It's a work in progress, so please feel free to contact me at chutneyoverrice@gmail.com . I wish to polish it further. This is my intellectual property, so contact me also if you wish to use it at a Eucharist. Thanks.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to offer thanks and praise.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing,
always and everywhere to give thanks to you,
Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Here a proper preface is said or sung.

Therefore we praise you,
joining our voices with Angels and Archangels
and with all the company of heaven,
who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

The Celebrant continues

Loving God,
we proclaim your promise
that you will not leave us comfortless nor desolate;
but that you will come to us,
and our hearts will once again rejoice.

For you alone my soul in silence waits;
From you comes my salvation.

Through Jesus Christ your Son,
you make known your saving power:
Christ soothed the brokenhearted,
comforted the burdened,
and healed the sick,
giving rest and refreshment to the weary.

For you alone my soul in silence waits;
Truly, my hope is in you.

He was rejected and bruised by others,
when he offered love, acceptance,
and the promise of an abundant life.
Fear and suspicion overcame those whom he loved;
they betrayed him and led him to the slaughter,
crucifying him on a tree.

For you alone my soul in silence waits;
From you comes my salvation.

By his death, he manifested the extent of your love,
by his resurrection he declared that love can never die,
and in his Good News Christ asks us
to remember with bread and wine
his abiding presence with us
until he comes again.

For you alone my soul in silence waits;
Truly, my hope is in you.

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death,
our Lord Jesus Christ took bread;
and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it,
and gave it to his disciples, and said,
"Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you.
Do this for the remembrance of me."

After supper he took the cup of wine;
and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said,
"Drink this, all of you:
This is my Blood of the new Covenant,
the mystery of faith,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me."

Thankful for Christ’s love and faithfulness to us,
with this bread and cup,

We celebrate his death and resurrection,
as we await the day of his coming,
when we shall be made like him.

God, who loves us more than we can ask or imagine,
we now offer you, from the depths of our hearts,
this bread and this wine.
Tenderly whisper your Name over these gifts,
and sanctify them by your Word and Holy Spirit,
to be for us, your broken people,
the Body and Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

By the grace of this Holy Sacrament,
gather and merge us into union with Christ,
that we may reflect his image
in our lives and mission.

With hope in the eternal promise
in which you will carry us home
to join Mary, the virgin Bearer of God,
and all the saints, in acclaiming your Holy Name;
graciously accept our prayers and praises through Jesus Christ our Lord.

By him, and with him, and in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory is yours, Almighty Father,
now and for ever.

Joshua Ligan 2009.
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