We Are Praying for Peace in India and Pakistan

It is a tense time on the subcontinent. Kashmir, much like Northern Ireland, has been a hard place to live for those in both sides of a contested border. You know the scourge of ethnic violence, sectarian tensions, and terrorism. However, I need to tell you to keep calm and carry on without using nuclear weapons. You’ve got to stay calm. Talk to each other, listen to one another, and remember the words of the Mahatma, “Nobody wins in a nuclear war.” Gandhi didn’t say that exactly but you know it’s the kind of idea with which he’d agree. His widely attributed remark that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” works well here. Retributive violence leads to debilitating consequences for the whole of humanity. When nationalism and faith become tools of destruction, harm, and oppression no one is better off.

Step back from the danger zone and take a deep breath. We are praying for you. Our little band of Christ followers in a place called Ocracoke believes in peace. We love the neighbors we have never seen in both India and Pakistan. Our lives are inextricably linked by everyday human experiences. We want the best for our children and families. Safe homes, schools, and communities are essential to people in Kashmir, Karachi, New Delhi, and Ocracoke. So this weekend in our church, we pray for peace, vision, and the ability to love when love seems distant.

As the great poet Rumi once said, “Let us raise our words, not our voice.” We raise you in prayer.

Blessings in the name of the God of Abraham,

Be with those in the middle,
Sandwiched between calls for violence and the desire for revenge,
Comfort those who are grieving,
May they know your presence,
Be with those in power,
Equip them with compassion and restraint,
May the silence be a time for listening,
May speaking be for understanding,
And may God’s will be done.
Amen

Richard Bryant

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Waiting in the Dark

We wait for Christmas to come;
singing in the dark of night.
As expected as Christmas is, we never see it coming.
We are taken by surprise.
What is the light? Where is it from?
Christmas is a single light, recognizable from everything around it.
The light of Christmas is unmistakable. It can be nothing else.
This is Christmas.
The unopened day on the Advent Calendar is here and still beyond our reach.
Christmas, growing brighter and warmer as it draws closer.
The light is for all who see it, a gift to be shared.
No one owns the light.
The light simply is.
Christmas is the light which cannot be wiped away.
The darkness is overcome.

–Richard Bryant

No Reason To Doubt (A Poem)

We judge each other’s politics.
God judges our religiosity.
That’s what the prophets say,
If that be the case,
And I’ve no reason to doubt,
How sincerely they prayed,
Micah, Amos, and Hosea
Are talking about us,
This very same day,
And we’re in trouble,
Too privileged to see it,
Too angry to hear it,
Because we can’t believe,
Lord, God Almighty,
Nothing like this should happen,
To someone who looks like we,
It seems we are lacking,
unable to be what we claim to believe,
a collection of I’s and you’s,
a malformed community,
searching for they’s and them’s,
anyone not like us,
so they may be judged,
on the altar of American greatness.

–Richard Bryant

Job’s Friends

Job’s friends,
numbered three,
good ideas,
they thought to bring,
“Give up,
you stink,
we know you lie,
you screwed up,
end this now,
ask God to die,”
With friends like these,
ready to comment,
eager to please,
who needs the devil,
betting God,
to put on the squeeze?
Silence, block, ignore
three eager dummies,
with whom Job chose
To chat no more.

–Richard Bryant

When You Mock Victims, You Mock Jesus

When you mock a victim of abuse, you mock Jesus.
When you laugh at the victim of oppression, you laugh at Jesus.
When you whip up a crowd to howl at a victim, you recreate the pain of Good Friday.
When you intentionally hurt someone who is already harmed, you hurt Jesus.
Harnassed evil is ugly and mean,
Jesus weeps.

And I bet all of them standing there,
every last one,
goes to a church,
maybe three times a week,
they call themselves Christian,
and while they laughed,
hoot’d and holler’d
Jesus still weeps.

–Richard Bryant