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"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Saturday, June 05, 2010


"Slave No More" by Marjorie Borgella.
I came across this prayer, given by an aged African American woman, quoted by Harold Carter in "The Prayer Traditions of Black People."

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.

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.
Somebody in the church gimme an "Amen."


Kirkepiscatoid said...

Amen, Sistah, amen.

I flashed back to one of my favorite Christmas songs (which I do pretty well for a white person), "Sweet Lil' Jesus Boy"...

"Jus' seems like we cain't do right, look how we treated you...
But pleeze, suh, fo'give us, Lawd, we din't know who you was."

Mary said...

Oh my gosh! Amen, indeed!! Fabulous prayer.

jonesnori said...

Amen. That's from the heart. Wow.

Hiram said...

It is a very humble and very moving prayer. I like it and could pray it (although praying as a woman would not exactly be honest on my part.) However, most of the "we" comes because the person praying does not use the objective case when it is grammatically correct to do so, and hence "we" predominates for other than ideological reasons.

Do you know who "Ooner" is? I can't figure that out.