Praying to Change the World

Written for and Delivered at the
Interfaith Passover Seder
sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace – Metro DC Chapter
at Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.
April 3, 2016/5776

Praying to Change the World

I join you tonight in prayer and hope and peace and love,
even joy, as a queer Christian minister and theologian,
married to a beautiful Jewish man, a father, grandfather,  brother, uncle,
member of Jewish Voice for Peace and Conservative/Reconstructionist
synagogue and an LGBTQI affirming, multi-racial Protestant church,
citizen of this land that is still far from free,
that still imprisons Native peoples on reservations
and kills descendants of slaves on the streets
for crimes of living while Red and/or Black
where ethnic, gender, religious, bodily, and sexual hates
are often the center of our national dialogue,
and embraced by some who want to be our leaders.
That is my personal context; it probably bears at least some
relation to yours. We are in this together, one way or another.

We gather with our own histories and our shared history.
We know that we are not alone in taking land from those
who lived on the land before us, we know its ancient roots
as recorded in Torah and we know countless ones today who
are displaced, unplaced, misplaced, replaced as were hundreds of thousands
in the Nakba, just as we know that second class citizens live
not only in prisons and jails here but also on streets
and in neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

So we gather in the truth of this time with all its ugliness
and fear and othering, but we are here also because we claim
our inheritance as people who know something about liberation,
our own and that of others, and because we know 
this day like all other days is made for us to wake up,
grow up, look up, act up, stand up, live up, speak up
from our heritage as people whose Creator breathes life
into all beings, pouring sacred water down
for all beings without exception, not based on any
puny criteria of mortals who walk among us.

What makes this night different from all other nights?
Only this: we are gathered  here today in an ancient
and honorable ritual, but if all we do is recite the words,
sing the songs, eat the food, say the prayers it will
fade like so many other days into the cavernous
space of forgotten promises, avoided truths, fearful
inaction, well-meaning but empty expressions of care.

So as we proclaim again, Next Year In Jerusalem,
we don’t want it to be the same one it is now,
we want it to be a truly golden city, of real
peace.  We intend to do our part to make it so, because
we are drawing this day on the power of each other
and all sacred beings who roam among us, and we know,
we believe, that it is our mission, our divinely inspired
mission, to join with others, many others here and there,
to create the new Jerusalem, the new Israel,
the new Palestine, the new USA,
the new people there and here, everywhere,
no longer living and walking in fear, no longer dispossessed,
no longer forgotten, no longer denied entry, exit, jobs, housing,
life, or dignity for being on the wrong side
of one line, one wall, one gate, one identity, or another.

We pray tonight, whether prayers be traditional
or postmodern, whether they be to a power greater than ourselves
or desire spoken in unbelief only to ourselves, or perhaps
not spoken with lips at all but on our posters and in letters to editors—
because we are all in this together, one way or another,
and because I know, and I believe you know,
we can change the world.

©Robin Gorsline2016
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form