Tag Archives: prayer

new hymn: O God, We’ve Prayed in Wind and Rain

The Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has recently returned to Pennsylvania as co-pastor of Overbrook Presbyterian Church.  She is a prolific hymn-writer, and has shared her newest hymn with the IPL community.  Carolyn wrote this piece in response to the storms of late August 2017 — Harvey, in the United States, and the devastating storms that hit India, Nepal, and Bangladesh that same week.

The language of this hymn is theistic, and while Carolyn’s own tradition is Christian, the language of the hymn is not specifically so — which opens the hymn to use in a variety of contexts, denominations, and traditions.

Carolyn has given her permission for free use in Pennsylvania congregations to support the relief efforts.  Contact us for a 1/2 sheet-ready version of the text sent to us by Rev. Gillette.  We’ve published the very beginning here, and linked to Rev. Carolyn’s website for the continuation… where you can also browse the full index of her hymns.

tune: Amazing Grace

O God, we’ve prayed in wind and rain and now we pray once more
For those who felt the hurricane and heard the waters roar. 

We pray for those who watched the storm destroy the life they knew,
Who wait in shelters, tired and worn, and wonder what to do.

We thank you, God, for acts of love not bound by race or creed,
For hands that reach across the flood to all who are in need.

We pray for others…      [jump to full text of this hymn and hymn index]

Tune: Virginia Harmony, 1831 Arr. Edwin O. Excell, 1900.
Alternative Tune: ST. ANNE CM Attr. William Croft, 1708 (“Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”).
Text: Copyright © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email Carolyn:   Website: www.carolynshymns.com

Eichah: The urgency of “How?!”

daniel swartz and marjorie bermanco-authored by Rabbis Marjorie Berman and Daniel Swartz

Judaism marks a number of minor fasts, but only two that run from one sunset to the next: Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the month of Av, which commemorates the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem, as well as later catastrophes. [artwork] (Tisha B’Av starts on the sunset of July 31st this year.) Yom Kippur gives individuals the opportunity to reflect on their actions over the past year so that they can do “t’shuvah,” that is, turning to their better selves in the coming year.

Because Tisha B’Av seems on the surface to be centered on mourning ancient losses, many people fail to recognize that it too is about T’shuvah.  But in the case of Tisha B’Av, the turning we need to accomplish is not individual but societal.  The Book of Lamentations, traditionally read on Tisha B’Av, begins with a question, “Eichah?”  How?  “How can it be that she sits alone, the city that was once great with people?” (Lamentations 1:1)  And this question implies others:  How did this come about? In what ways are we responsible?  What can we do differently to prevent such tragedies from recurring?How does the city sit alone? LM_PAFA_Panel_05

According to traditional Jewish understanding, one of the root causes of the destruction of the First Temple was that people turned from worshipping the God of all creation and instead worshipped gold and silver, power and wealth.  By the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, the problem was no longer idolatry but sinat chinam, baseless hatred.

But the early sages do not stop there.  They take the Jewish historical experience of the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem and universalize it in both time and scope.   For them, the holy Temple in Jerusalem also served as a reflection of the broader holiness of the whole earth.  And as for that cry of Eichah, we read in Midrash Bereishit Rabbah 19:9 (a homiletical commentary on the Book of Genesis) that the first Eichah was actually addressed to Adam and Eve, when they violated the Garden of Eden: “You transgressed My commands. I decreed exile and I lamented: ‘Eichah?’ How?” (The sages are using wordplay here – the text in Genesis literally says that God calls out Ayekka – where are you – but the spelling in biblical consonantal Hebrew is identical to Eichah)

The sages of Bereishit Rabbah are using this pun to make a point: the experience of destruction and exile is not just about the Temple in Jerusalem.  It has been with us since the Garden, that is, since the beginning of civilization.  And, just as in the days of the Temple, we too cause destruction through the worship of riches and power and through baseless hatred.

Today, humanity as a whole is violating the Garden that is our beautiful, blessed world.  We are quite literally giving rise to fires of destruction through greed and casual disregard of others.   Through the wasteful and unsustainable burning of fossil fuels, we threaten the very future of civilization and of countless species all across the global Garden.  And if we do not turn away from this behavior, the havoc that climate change will wreak will give rise to howls of Eichah far more desolate than any that have ever been uttered.

But Tisha B’Av teaches us that when we remember and listen to the lessons of history, when we mourn that reality, we can be inspired to change.  The second to last sentence in the Book of Lamentations reads:  “Return us to You, Eternal, and we will turn.  Renew our days as of yore.”  In other words, if we really take in the urgency of “how,” if we truly face up to what we have done, we can change.  We can shape a future with justice for everyone and sustainability for countless generations to come. We can make our world into a new Eden, a sacred Temple once again.

(Authors’ Note: the ideas of this essay have grown out of more than 20 years of conversation about Tisha B’Av with Rabbi Arthur Waskow.  We are deeply indebted to his teachings.)

PHILADELPHIA — Tree Planting and Blessing

tree planting poster imageOn Saturday, Earth Day,  PA IPL Germantown Tree Tenders will be planting trees at 3 different sites.

At Janes Memorial United Methodist Church on Germantown Avenue and  we will be having a blessing of the trees at 11:30 (we might start a little later, depending on the plantings), led by The Rev. Andrew Foster (Janes Memorial UMC)  and the Rev. Cheryl Pyrch (Summit Presbyterian).

Actual planting starts earlier.  See poster (click on image to enlarge) for times and contacts.

Would you like to participate?  It’s a chance to celebrate and also give our best wishes to Pastor Foster, who will be moving at the end of May to become leader of the New England District of the UMC.

Contact Pastor Cheryl Pyrch to RSVP.

Nationwide Climate Prayer — noon

hands on earthClimate Blessing

We Hold the Earth
We hold brothers and sisters who suffer from storms and droughts intensified by climate change.
We hold all species that suffer.
We hold world leaders delegated to make decisions for life.
We pray that the web of life may be mended through courageous actions to limit carbon emissions.
We pray for right actions for adaptation and mitigation to help our already suffering earth community.
We pray that love and wisdom might inspire my actions and our actions as communities. . .
so that we may, with integrity, look into the eyes of brothers and sisters and all beings and truthfully say, we are doing our part to care for them and the future of the children.
May love transform us and our world with new steps toward life.
Find more Climate Blessings for different faith traditions at Faith Climate Action Week

Faith Climate Action Week

Find more Climate Blessings for different faith traditions at Faith Climate Action Week

Faith Climate Action Week — your congregation, community, home

All you need and more (including worship and sermon resources, postcards, a discounted film and a leaders’ guide) are over at the Faith Climate Action Week website maintained by the national Interfaith Power & Light.

You can do all the things listed below (and more!) right from that main site site.

If the national week doesn’t work for your faith community, you can still participate!  None of the materials is dated.  Please take photos and share your stories whenever you participate. 

Catch the bus! Join the action!

Register for the PA IPL bus from Chestnut Hill.  It departs from St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philadelphia, and there will be a multifaith-friendly Shabbat service right on the bus!

Facebook Event page for the PA IPL climate march bus.

THis bus is very nearly full, but our friends at CAIR – Philadelphia have invited people of all faiths to join their bus, too!  Be sure to read all the information in the “about” tab on the linked page, and then click through to sign up with them.

Lots of groups are organizing!  Find sister events or transportation from your area to DC via the standard People’s Climate Movement website, including buses from Pittsburgh, Harrisburg/Hershey, Pine Grove, West Chester, Doylestown….more added all the time!

Check out faith resources from the march’s faith contingent hubor browse through bulletin inserts from several faith traditions —copy the same one for each bulletin, or copy several different ones to spark conversation.  Note that there is a Word version if you want to adapt yours.  THANK YOU to IPL DC.MD.NoVA!

List your event so people can find it when they search.
List your bus so people can find it when they search.

Another way to engage:  Faith Climate Action Week from Interfaith Power & Light.

Central PA’s People’s Climate Day in State College

Be there in prayer and spirit!Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 12.15.47 PM

Prayer Flag project — complete as a congregation, a study group, or an individual as a way of participating in the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC, and sister events closer to home.   The project makes a terrific addition to any Earth Day or Faith Climate Action Week events you may already have planned.