Tuesday on the trail …

Tuesday I spent the day walking along the Potomac River with some local friends.
We enjoyed God’s living art gallery (which included a scarlet tanager and Baltimore oriole) and talked about life, God, gospel, theology, church, and mission. Our group included Joel Kurz, a gifted church planter in Baltimore. Their community, the Garden, just had a “trail of tears” service. Here’s how Joel described it:

The Garden Worship Gathering took on a new approach this past Sunday as we traveled to five of the most recent murder sites in our area, a journey which we called Trail of Tears. At each site we read the liturgy and dropped a rose while we sang together “Amazing Grace.”
As seen in the liturgy we finished our time of prayer at each site with the words, “And may your Kingdom come to Baltimore as it is in Heaven,” – a cry for God’s peace and way of life to be opened up among us now. This next Sunday we will be focusing on what it now means to be the answer to our own prayer. We realize that as we pray for God’s Kingdom to come, God has chosen us to be the agents of the Kingdom, agents of peace and reconciliation in the world around us, making Baltimore a better place for everyone.

With Joel’s permission, I included the liturgy below the jump. This strikes me as a very wise and powerful action people of faith can adapt and employ in many settings.

Trail of Tears Liturgy
The Garden Community, Baltimore, MD
* denotes change in reader; sections in italics are read together.
Prayer of Commitment
God it is at this place that __________ lost his/her life.
We place him/her in your hands.
A life which you created was taken from us
due to the violence we as humans have created
Forgive us and save us.
May this death remind us of our own life
Which is lived only for a moment
Before we pass on into your hands
Let us search deeply within ourselves
Committing our life to you
So they we may know you fully and be fully yours
For the Family:
*God, we pray for the family of _________
May they not hurry as they walk with grief;
For it does not help the journey.
May they walk slowly,
Pausing often.
May they not be disturbed by memories that come unbidden
May they swiftly forgive as you have forgiven.
And may Christ speak for them unspoken words.
Unfinished conversation will be resolved in Him.
May they not be disturbed.
(Adapted from Celtic Daily Prayer)
God of Mercy, be with this family as they grieve
Walk with them each step of the way
Use us, your people, to love them
In this dark hour, may they seek you and find light.
For the Community Leaders
*We pray for our community leaders in this neighborhood
May their effort be worthy
May their labor be fruitful
We thank you that you have placed these men and women
In this place of duty
And that they have received the call to serve their neighborhood.
May they inspire change and hope.
Grant them peace and safety
For the Police Officers
*Oh Almighty God, whose great power and eternal wisdom embraces the universe.
Watch over our policemen and law enforcement officers.
Give them the strength, courage and perseverance to endure the unjust condemnation, danger, and physical abuse to which they are at times subjected.
We commend them to your loving care because their duty is dangerous.
Dear God, grant these brave men and women, your almighty protection.
(Author Unknown)
Unite them safely with their families after duty has ended.
For the City
*God of peace, in Jesus you wept for the city,
you loved the city,
place of human greed, violence, wealth, and poverty,
but also a place of hope and human gathering.
We pray for Baltimore,
that the needs of all for food, and shelter, and work,
for justice and dignity, might be met.
We pray that the diverse people living here
may join our efforts to seek the good of all.
Minister to this city through the hands of your people,
as we feed the hungry,
heal the sick, and comfort the sorrowing.
We pray for the people who have come seeking to work and to survive.
May they too find what they need to live.
God of Peace,
Keep alive in us that hope of the new Jerusalem,
of the city that finds its light from your presence,
and its joy in doing your will,
where tears are dried, and violence is destroyed.
Through Jesus Christ, Let it be! Amen. “
(Adapted prayer from Rev. Chuck Curry)
For The Garden
*Give us open eyes to see beyond what others say is possible.
May the blessing of our love
and our strong joy in blessing
call out new growth
in everyone we know and meet
Give us a generosity that pushes back the boundaries,
For even death
By you has been defeated.
With all our powers
we find our power in You.
The Light Shines on and life is lived in You
(Adapted from Celtic Daily Prayer)
A Moment of Reflection: Silence
Amazing Grace (drop rose)
Final Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory
Forever. Amen
Love us so that we may know love
And grant us peace so that may we know peace
And may your Kingdom come to Baltimore as it is in Heaven