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02 November 2009

Celebrating the Saints


For all the saints...
I am so grateful to God for the saints who made it possible for me to be, and to be here. I am also grateful for those who are not my ancestors or relatives but whose sacrifices - sometimes unwilling, sometimes outright murder - crafted this world and this Church on a foundation cemented with bodies, blood and bone: I bless you on this day.
On this Festival of the Saints I remember those whose names are known to none but God alone and call them blessed: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
Canaanites and all conquered peoples who lost land and life in the name of someone else's god: I bless you on this day.
Members of every subjugated nation under the heavens living and dying under imperial tyranny: I bless you on this day.
Women and girls whose bodies are regularly broken, broken open, broken into, so that men can feel like men: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
Muslim, Jewish and Christian martyrs of the Crusades: I bless you on this day.
Muslim, Jewish and Christian martyrs of the Inquisition: I bless you on this day.
Christians killed by other Christians in the name of Reformation and Counter-reformation: I bless you on this day.
Native peoples of every continent hunted to extinction, confined to reservations, categorized as wildlife, commercially exploited, trivialized and mocked: I bless you on this day.
Witchy women and crafty children murdered by men in the name of fear called God: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
Holy martyrs of the Ma'afa: I bless you on this day.
Sun-kissed children of Africa, a long way from home, building a nation that reviled and rejected you even as it depends on you: I bless you on this day.
God-wrestling people of God baked in ovens built, tended, emptied and resupplied by those who called themselves Christian: I bless you on this day.
African victims of genocide perpetrated by Africans: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
Palestinian sisters and brothers living under Apartheid's reanimated corpse-regime: I bless you on this day.
Central and South American migrants whose labor is needed while their persons are despised and rejected: I bless you on this day.
Child saints whose tiny bodies cannot withstand the violence raining down on them from adults and sometimes from other children: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
The words to James Weldon Johnson's world-renowned anthem (with the first verse concluding) are my psalm of praise on this All Saints Day.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.


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