An Interfaith Gathering for Lamentation, Longing and Hope

On Thursday, January 18, 2018, we took part in an “Interfaith Gathering of Lamentation, Longing and Hope” for the 2018 legislative session of the Colorado General Assembly.  The event was held at the First Baptist Church of Denver. We first opened with Father Michael Nicosia of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion playing the flute. Rev. Diana Flahive followed with stating the occasion:

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat;

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink;

I was a stranger and you invited me in;

I needed clothes and you clothed me;

I was sick and you looked after me;

I was in prison and you did not forget me;

I was homeless and you gave me shelter;

When my heart was weary you listened to me….

We gather from a variety of traditions to lament much of what has happened this past year, to share our longing and hope for what may come in the new year.
We gather as a people:

  • Committed to honoring the dignity of each human being;
  • Committed to creating a society where all are treated fairly and are given equal opportunity;
  • Committed to caring and responsible stewardship for all of the earth;
  • Committed to working toward a future where we understand our diversity to be a blessing;
  • Committed to a belief that together we are stronger and that as a state-wide community we can do better in taking care of one another.

 

After the opening segment, Adrian Miller of the CCC read a blessing to encourage those doing the work:

Beatitudes for a Modern Day, by John D. Alexander, S.J.

Edited and added to by Rev. Diana J. Flahive

  • Blessed are those who are blessed with comfort and fortune, who are willing to be uncomfortable as they move into the lives of others, touching their pain and suffering either nearby or at a distance.  They know that “these others” are our brothers and sisters.
  • Blessed are the people who are generous of heart, who give of their love, their time, their money and somehow keep on giving despite disillusionment and disappointment in seeing their efforts go wasted.
  • Blessed are those who can forgive those who are petty, angry, rude, or neurotic, and still seek to find and delight in the good qualities of the people around them.
  • Blessed are those who respect a person as an individual and do not prejudge her because of race, color, ethnic, or economic background and sexual identity.  They do not, therefore, reduce that individual’s many good qualities to one rather unessential characteristic.
  • Blessed are you who do not resent the poor or the homeless and who are able to open your eyes and hearts and see them clearly with the eyes of love…and see them as yourself.
  • Blessed are those people who are most sensitive to the pain and injustice around them.  They help us to keep our vision clear.  By this example they help us be patient, loving, and forgiving.  They inspire us to keep putting one foot in front of the other in our attempts to walk the path of Love.
  • And Blessed are you, who have committed to work with all peoples .. some who are lost … whether they know so or not.
  • Blessed are you who will give your time, talent and treasure, to serve, to educate, and to advocate those who have power and those who have none.
  • Blessed are they…and Blessed are you.

 

We were also led in song by three talented worship music leaders: Eric McEuen and Darryl Walker.

After host pastor Rev. Brian Henderson welcomed those assembled, Rabbi Brian Field gave some context for what a lamentation is, and then a number of interfaith leaders read aloud our statements of lamentation, longing and hope.

 

We were also led in song by three talented worship music leaders:

Statements of Lamentation, Longing and Hope

#1       Gun Violence –  Rev. Dr. Terrence Hughes (Denver Ministerial Alliance)

As communities of faith and individuals who care for the safety and well-being of our society, we lament that there are more than 32,000-gun related deaths per year in the United States and that nearly 3,000 people have died in Colorado alone in the past four years. We lament that efforts at the federal and state levels continue to fall short of legislative measures that would ensure safer and more effective policies to reduce these tragic statistics. We lament that our country does not lead the world more boldly and courageously in this area of needed safety for children, youth, and adults.

We stand in hope that the legislative session ahead will find direct and indirect ways to help the State of Colorado address these matters in effective and empowering ways that promote the best protection of our citizenry.

#2       Healthcare – Rev.  Dr. Donna Dempewolf (Executive Pastor, Trinity  United Methodist Church)

As communities of faith and individuals who care for the safety and well-being of our society, we lament that our current healthcare system fails to afford all United States’ citizens the opportunity and ability to have affordable care in matters of health. We lament that current legislation seems to keep in place a financial system that benefits more insurance and pharmaceutical industries. We lament that many of our elected officials continue to vote on policies that make it more difficult for the general public to access needed healthcare while they themselves have gold-shelf plans.

We stand in hope that the legislative session ahead will find direct and indirect ways to help the State of Colorado address these matters in effective and empowering avenues that promote the best care of our citizenry.

#3       Immigration – Jennifer Piper (American Friends Service Committee)

As communities of faith and individuals who care for the safety and well-being of our society, we lament that past and current immigration legislation often does more injustice to individuals and families and communities. We lament that human beings who are fleeing unsafe and life-threatening environments, are often treated as criminals under our United States’ policies. We lament that too many families face the harmful effects of separation and deportation.

We stand in hope that the legislative session ahead will find direct and indirect ways to help the State of Colorado address these complicated and often convoluted matters in effective and empowering ways that promote the best care of all individuals who seek to call Colorado their home.

#4       Earth Care – Susie Silversmith (Dine’ Nation, Christian Indian Center)

As communities of faith and individuals who care for the safety and well-being of our society, we lament that ecological concerns for the earth are not being more vigilantly protected by policies at all levels of government. We lament that climate change research is not taken more seriously. We lament the anticipated negative impact on the environment and on the human population if environmental degradation trends are not more proactively addressed by federal, state, and local governments. Further, we lament that the current Administration has announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement that has been agreed upon by nearly 200 other nations around the world.

We stand in hope that the legislative session ahead will find direct and indirect ways to help the State of Colorado mitigate in all ways possible issues and matters that impact climate change. We hope that legislative initiatives will explore all possible avenues that will lead our state toward a more sound and safe approach to earth care.

#5       Homelessness – Iman Jodeh (Muslim Leader)

As communities of faith and individuals who care for the safety and well-being of our society, we lament that homelessness has reached the levels it has in our country, state, and local communities. We lament that affordable and accessible housing is not a higher priority in many municipalities. We lament that services and resources are not more strongly supported providing holistic care to families and individuals navigating the dehumanizing nature of living without a place to call home.

We stand in hope that the legislative session ahead will find direct and indirect ways to help the State of Colorado address the rising numbers of people in need of safe, affordable, and sustainable housing.

#6       Mental Illness – Rev. Diana Thompson, Kaikyoshi Minister at the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple.

As communities of faith and individuals who care for the safety and well-being of our society, we lament how the stigma of mental illness often becomes an alienating reality that often pushes one further into deep and dark places of existence. We lament that institutional and legislative channels are so lacking.

We stand in hope that the legislative session ahead will find direct and indirect ways to help the State of Colorado explore all opportunities to offer those suffering with mental illness resources that can assist them in developing better self-care that empowers them to live more stable and balanced lives.

#7       Human Rights – Rabbi Brian Field (Judaism Your Way)

As communities of faith and individuals who care for the safety and well-being of our society, we lament that basic human rights are not more fully extended to all members of our communities. We lament that legislative measures continue to disenfranchise and disinherit some members of society solely because of one’s race, gender, religion, culture, sexual identity and/or orientation, and social status. We lament that people still live in fear because of how they may or may not be accepted in communities. We lament that sexual abuse in the work place and community contexts has long gone under-reported and unaddressed. We lament the inequality among sexes that exists and that perpetuates a male-dominated culture on numerous levels.

We stand in hope that the legislative session ahead will find direct and indirect ways to help the State of Colorado to lead the way in providing human rights and a respectful dignity to all of its citizens. We hope for a day when all people can live without fear of oppression and can live into the full human potential that resides perpetually within the human spirit.                  (Brian H.– Resp, light candle)

Afterwards, those assembled processed to the steps on the west side of the State Capitol where Sen. Lois Court and Rep. Chris Hansen received the written hopes that we had for the 2018 legislative session of the Colorado General Assembly.

Rev. Chris Gilmore and Iman Jodeh closed the gathering with a benediction.

 

 

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