Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery at Coretta Scott King's funeral

Mrs. King's service was February 7, 2006, almost three years ago. Dr. Lowery has not lost his touch. Yesterday's benediction was vintage. I, along with most, didn't know the origin of his opening lines. Clearly they came from a hymn, but which one? I grew up with the Broadman Hymnal and recognize about every verse of every hymn. But that one was not in my memory. I had to look it up. Lift Every Voice and Sing.

No wonder I didn't recognize it. The Broadman Hymnal was the old white Baptist hymnal and it had neither the music nor the words to that song. Once again I was reminded of my racist upbringing, no matter how benign it seemed at the time. And once again I celebrate my deliverance from that demon.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
thou who hast by thy might led us into the light,
keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee;
lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee,
shadowed beneath thy hand,
may we forever stand,
true to our God,
true to our native land.

Here are Dr. Lowery's closing words.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest,

and in the joy of a new beginning,

we ask you to help us work for that day

when black will not be asked to get back,

when brown can stick around -- (laughter) --

when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) --

when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) --

and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

Dave Neiwert's post at Crooks and Liars has videos of both Rick Warren's and Joseph Lowery's prayers. The comments thread is a study in carping, sniping and choosing sides. It makes me wonder about the effectiveness of Christian evangelism on a mass market. Neiwert asks the queston, "What did you think?" and gets a load of responses. The comments thread leads me to believe that most of the commenters DIDN'T think. Most had their minds made up before either man spoke and are not likely to change.

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