Providing An Alternative

On Sunday, July 10th, 2016, St. John’s Baptist Church of Charlotte, North Carolina commemorated 90 years of worship in the sanctuary entrusted to us by the first members of our congregation in 1926. While we celebrated and remembered those who went before us, we also acknowledged they were actively faithful as a covenant community following The Way of Jesus and being attentive to the issues of their day – offering the light of Christ as they best understood the calling of God’s love upon them.

So, we acknowledge the challenges of our context. Today, violence rising out of racism, religious extremism and unsubstantiated fears are creating headlines almost daily. Murders, massacres, acts of brutality and actions that express racism and prejudice are prevalent. The following poetic prayer was offered to God voicing our commitment to be actively faithful, as God’s missional servant Church in the 21st century.

Dedicated to Victims of Violence 2016
Commemorating Sanctuary’s 90th Year
St. John’s Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC
Rev. Dr. Dennis W. Foust, Senior Minister

Eternal Living God,
Along blood-soaked streets limping with pain
Trying to catch our breath
In the rain
Of violence and suffering

There is no buffering
Between us and we
For, as part of the world
We hurt ourselves
We are all one –

– One family, community of humanity
Our heartbeats are synchronized
With differences bureaucratized
Prejudices centralized
Around hatred appalling

We hear Your calling
Within and without
To link our prayers with actions
Not for attention, but
To build traction

Upon entering a new world
Where in every place
People find sacred space
For we are enmeshed
As one body – one flesh

Within and beyond our shrines,
Sanctuaries, mosques and temples
Of all kinds
We pray although it sounds simple
Asking You, the Divine

To help us become answers
To the prayers we offer
Admitting our limitations
We pursue Your sensations
Beckoning us higher

Carrying our fears in arms of faith
Refusing to cradle our faith in arms of fear
For we are here
Making Your love practical
Amidst the problematical

Investing in relationships on purpose
With others of us
Giving a Head Start
To children who are smart
Building healthier communities

Affirming diversity & individuality
Encouraging humility
Incarnating vulnerability
With authenticity
Through active faithfulness

Modeling missional blessedness
We teach our children
They are only good
When they receive their neighbor
As gift to them and gift to all

Elsewise we become small
Proposing that some are more
And some are less
Which is what
Has put us in this big mess

So, in covenant with Thee, The Holy
We the lowly
Embrace the other
As sister and brother
Help us truly care for one another

As we continue to sow good seed
Knowing some will take root
Bearing fruit of hope and peace
Bringing release
From hatred and shame

Let us look beyond who to blame
Sweeten our speech
Making the choice
To listen and lower our voice
So shouting subsides

Let us work to abide
In light, justice, compassion
Along pathways of vision
Admonishing whenever one
Seems not to care

Enough to boldly dare
Providing an alternative
For a better world
Embracing Your Divine Love tightly
Yet, loosely enough to share. Amen.