Join with us (mute yourself) and sing as if no-one was listening.(skip to 1:02:33)
Spirit of Abundance, God of Grace, Mother of Hope,
We pause now to remember those stories that are all around us,
But so often passed over,
Those stories that when told are shared because
Of what someone is, not who they are.
This month in our nation's character
Is Black History month.
Help us to realize that Black history is
All our histories.
May the day come when these stories
Are so wildly taught that no month need
Be separately divided.
We know this day will not come until we as a people
Make different choices.
We pray now for those new choices.
May we come to see a day where the prison system
Becomes redemptive, not punitive.
A day where the legal system learns to focus more squarely on the facts,
And the not colors of our skin.
A day where our schools are as well funded, as the needs demand.
May our role models be allowed to excel when they thrive,
And not be taken down for their rich heritage.
We know this will require a shift in power.
And this can be scary for some.
Give those full of fear - hope.
May we come to know grace,
So that our hearts will not be hardened to the pain around us.
There are so many beautiful stories needing to be told.
And we need to get the chance to hear them.
Widen our vision so that the history that is shared this month,
And every month,
Come to be known as our history too.
We are most human when we see the humanity in others.
4 Reading to ponder upon and discuss
The second reading is from the Quaker Faith and Practice (Fifth edition), Chapter 23:33, by Meg Maslin
Guided by the Light of God within us and recognising that of God in others, we can all learn to value our differences in age, sex, physique, race and culture. This enables mutual respect and self-respect to develop, and it becomes possible for everyone to love one another as God loves us. Throughout our lives, we see ourselves reflected in the facial expressions, verbal comments and body-language of others. We have a responsibility to protect each other’s self-respect.
Because of their commitment to social concerns, some Quakers may find it inconceivable that they may lack understanding of issues involving racism. Jesus stressed the unique nature and worth of each individual. It is unreasonable to expect assimilation or to ignore difference, claiming to treat everyone the same. This denies the value of variety, which presents not a problem, but a creative challenge to live adventurously.
Personality, sex, race, culture and experience are God’s gifts. We need one another and differences shared become enrichments, not reasons to be afraid, to dominate or condemn. The media have increased our knowledge of the world, but we need greater self-awareness if our actions are to be changed in relation to the information we receive. We need to consider our behaviour carefully, heeding the command of Jesus that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
5. Comments, discussion, or awkward silence 😊
‘Throughout our lives, we see ourselves reflected in the facial expressions, verbal comments and body-language of others’. When have you seen this? Good or bad?
‘It is unreasonable to expect assimilation or to ignore difference, claiming to treat everyone the same’. Is it unreasonable? Is it evern reasonable?
‘A creative challenge to live adventurously’: have you any experiences of this?
‘The media have increased our knowledge of the world, but we need greater self-awareness if our actions are to be changed in relation to the information we receive’. Difficult to discern what is good or bad? Any examples of how we have learnt something and altered our actions?
6 Prayer and reflection
Silence is held
1.Reader: On Rights and Responsibilities, from Rosa Parks
I realized we should all be free people and we should have the same rights as other people. In the South, at that time, there was legally enforced segregation. There were places black people couldn’t go, and rights we did not have. This was not acceptable to me. A lot of other people didn’t disobey the rules because they didn’t want to get into trouble. I was willing to get arrested — it was worth the consequences.
All: We pray that the rights of all members of the African American community, and of all peoples, are respected, and that all take on the responsibilities of freedom.
2.Reader: Option for the Poor, Marian Wright Edelman, Founder, Children’s Defense League
God has blessed us with more riches than some of us know what to do with, yet we let millions of our children go hungry, without shelter, and without other basic necessities of life. Here we are blessed with the best of health technology, yet there are places where children’s lives are thrown away.We must take care of our children who suffer from poverty.
All: We pray that we see and respond to the poverty in the African American community and in all our communities.
3.Reader: Solidarity, from Maya Angelou, writer
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me. . .
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face,
And say simply
With hope, Good Morning.
All: We pray we stand with civility and in solidarity with all people including our African American siblings
4. Reader: Stewardship of Creation, from Alice
Helped are those who love the entire cosmos rather than their own tiny country, city, or farm, for to them will be shown the unbroken web of life and the meaning of infinity.
Helped are those who love the Earth, their mother, and who willingly suffer that she may not die; in their grief over her pain they will weep and in their joy in her lively response to love, they will converse with all living things.
Helped are those who love and actively support the diversity of life; they shall be secure in their differences.
All: We pray that all members of our diverse human community respect Creation.
7 Bible reading
Extracts from Psalm 139
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Holy notices: please, help me do this week by week – will you read, pray, dance and sing?
8. Final song before tea and Bake Off. Dance as if no-one is watching