The cover photo has more significance than just a tranquil setting; Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fifty years ago. It rises out of the reflection pool in front of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX, which also opened fifty years ago. Its mission is “to create opportunities for spiritual growth and dialogue that illuminate our shared humanity and inspire action leading to a world in which all are treated with dignity and respect.”
This sentiment of building unity continues with the tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. with a quote and accompanying photo, followed by the song “For Our Country,” a translation by S.D. Rodholm.
The future of the United States depends, in part, on acknowledgement and atonement for exploitations and wrongs of the past, as Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Elona Street-Stewart exhorts in the sermon she delivered at the worship service at the 2020 Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
Viggo ‘Pete’ Hansen gives his thoughts on how human survival is tied to education. Then Dr. Mike Klein of St. Thomas University, St. Paul, MN, introduces a book, written by his students, that reflects the practice of his pedagogic model. The first chapter of this book, written by Savannah Thibert, picks up the theme from the sermon of acknowledging the harms of colonization to Indigenous people. The ideas of Grundtvig concerning nationhood should be kept in mind as these voices urge us to consider the Indigenous nations of North America (a.k.a. Turtle Island).
Hanna Broadbridge shares signs of hope for 2021, both on her back patio and in the respect for the common good seen in the final Brexit discussions.
Yet there has been much to mourn. We remember the lives of Doris Henriksen and Mary Louise Sørensen. And because the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was so profoundly disturbing, we end with a prayer by Harold J. Slater rather than the normal Post Script.
Notes on Upcoming and Past Issues
The next issue of Church and Life will be combined for February/March so will be published March 1. The deadline for submissions is thus extended to February 12. Think about sharing the place or practice that is your oasis for mind and spirit.
An additional credit is due for the “I Am From” song in the December issue. Caroline Juhl, granddaughter of Rita and Dick Juhl and music student at St. Olaf, put the song into sheet music form for publication.
The 150th anniversary celebration of the Fredsville congregation has been put on hold, but Vern Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is still looking for descendants of founders and any stories that fill out the narrative of the pioneers.
By HAROLD J. SLATER
Profound Presence, love-energy in the Christmas babe, proclaimed as Prince of Peace.
We listen as conspiracy theories proliferate,
misinformed hatred shouts,
and armed mobs assemble.
We watch while insurrectionists overrun our Capitol
elected leaders flee to safe havens,
and ill-prepared police dither.
We feel the shock of disbelief shake our confidence,
the fear of anarchy and civil war stun us,
the mendacious lies of deflection gall
accumulated wounds of propaganda.
It is harder and harder to say,
to trust the fulfillment,
that your Kingdom is coming
and your Will is being done on earth
as it is in your divine intent.
Yet, to whom shall we turn,
you have the whole cosmic order in hand,
you are the impetus of spiritual masters
calling us to wholeness and peace,
you are the love-energy that has overcome
all the crises of human history.
So we dare to pray,
as victims of powerful and ambitious persons,
as complicit in oppression and death
of those not like us,
as outraged citizens and lovers of country and
parents and children,
as those perplexed, enraged, full of remorse.
Please be present in transformative ways we cannot imagine.
Please inspire in us resources and determination
to overcome our infatuation with power,
to caste away our penchant for vengeance
to exchange our cutthroat competition
to listen, heed, and obey our better angels
as your profound wisdom guided us before.
Let your saving magic of love well up in us in compassion and stewardship of all the means of living and earth neighbors entrusted to us.
Hear us and save us because we are the
children of your making and because this
world is such a masterpiece of your splendor.
Let It Be So.
Bridget Lois Jensen