Day 15 of our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.
So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.
What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?
A Lenten liturgy from Exodus 17:3-7 and John 4:5-42 from Atlanta-based UCC pastor Julius Jessup Peterson (photo above):
Call to Worship:
Leader: We are called in this time to remember and to anticipate.
People: We can’t see through the fog around us, we are without water, and the fruit of our land is filled with disease.
Leader: We are called to remember that salvation is liberation from the fear of death, and sin is separation from you.
People: Violence has divided us, neighbor against neighbor, loved one against kin, we have lost our way.
Leader: We are called to be free, God has cleared the way.
People: Brutality by state has broken our spirit, our homes, our families, and all we know has been changed.
All: With our eyes open and our voice raised, we will choose life over death, truth over lie, and not surrender, we will not forget that we are free. We will stand for truth and we will stand for love. We will remember you; We will remember the dream, only you know what lies ahead.
You have been heard with a booming voice, a quiet whisper, and even in the silence. We wait to hear from you, with a knowing that you are with us, in the bombing of our villages, the death of our children, and the breaking of our hearts. We look to the sky, we look into eyes of our neighbor, we look into the hearts of the stranger, searching for you. May we hear the warmth of your reassurance, and the truth of your counsel, both with remembrance and anticipation. Amen.
Love, we have been blinded by our fears. Our hearts have become hardened. We have forgotten that you are our source of love and of life. We have let our bias, our differences, and our ego keep us divided. Scarcity has consumed us, and we have become unwilling to share. We look beyond the trees in the wilderness of our lives, for water to sustain our thirst, for hope to bloom in our barrenness and for a peace to surpass our understanding. Cover us, God so that we can stop the source of separation that we have invited in. Amen.