It's a powerful prayer on many, many levels. I've been thinking that it's probably one of the best prayers to understand the idea of the Trinity as a model of the church.
That's how this woman prays. She uses 'we" much more than the words "ours," "I," or "us." That's were the energy, the passion, lies in this prayer - in the we-ness.
Without taking any theological courses or study of the African philosophy or ethical systems of the corporate nature of the self, she simply prays words we in the Episcopal Church would immediately recognize as part of the South African idea of Ubuntu - "Because I am, we are, and because we are, I am."
It expresses a basic human desire to be known, to be seen, and to find approval. It involves our finitude and our vulnerability in existence.
It suggests a mutuality and a hope that is relational, that grows out of a grace that ultimately cannot choose between insider and outsider.
Just like The Trinity: "The three in one and One in three."
Finally, this prayer moves from considering the effects of slavery to asking questions about transforming the nation's consciousness. I love the hopeful anticipation at the end of the prayer of the image of Jesus not needing to knock on the door - "We set the door plum open and watch up the road for to see you."
I also love the powerful imagery of not having any cool water to give to Jesus, except to fill the communion cup with the tear of repentance and love poured right from the heart as our humble offering.
"Dat all we hab to gib you, good Massa," she says.
Oh, that we offered that to the Christ in me and the Christ in you and the Christ in and for the world every time we came to celebrate Eucharist! Having been so transformed, how could we not transform the world with the power of the Trinity within us?
Indeed, I think the highly educated 'Massa Rowan' might learn a few things from this wonderful African American woman's prayer.
Okay, I've gone on enough. Here it is. I hope you enjoy this prayer as much - and pray it as often - as I have.
Dear Mass Jesus, we uns beg Ooner come make us a call dis here day. We is nutting but poor Ethiopian women, and people don't care much about we. We ain't trust any of dem great high people for to come to we church, but do'you is de great Massa, great to much daan Massa Linkum, you ain't shame to care for we African People.Somebody in the church gimme an "Amen."
Come to we, dear Massa Jesus. De sun, he hot too much, de road am dat long and boggy and we ain't got no buggy for send and fetch Ooner. But Massa, you 'member how you walked dat hard walk up Calvary and ain't weary but to tink about we all dat way. We know you ain't weary for to come to we. We pick out de torns, de prickles, de back slidin', and de quarrel, and de sin out you path so dey don't hurt Ooner feet no more.
Come to we, dear Massa Jesus. We all uns ain't got no good cool water for to give you when you thirsty. You know, Massa, de drought so long, and the well so low, ain't nuttin' but mud to drink. But we gwine to take de 'munion cup and fill it wid de tear of repentance and love clean out we heart. Dat all we hab to gib you, good Massa.
An Massa Jesus, you say you gwine stand at the door and knock. But you ain't gwine stand at we door, Massa, and knock. We set the door plum open and watch up the road for to see you.
Come, Massa Jesus, come! We know you is near, we heart is all tremble, we so glad for hab you here. And Massa, we church ain't good nuff for you to sit down in, but stop by de door just one minute, dear Massa Jesus, and whisper one word to we - one good word - we do listen, Massa.