Monday, April 17, 2017

Practicing Resurrection

To "practice resurrection" (Wendell Berry's phrase in his 1973 poem 'Mad Farmer Liberation Front') means, to me:
to trust that truth-telling, justice-seeking and system-challenging, though apparently defeated and futile, wins.

to invest in people and places that most have written off, dismissed, bypassed, and left behind.

to challenge foregone conclusions about who is worthy, what is salvageable, where renewal can happen.

to dare to attempt to build community where most have given up and moved on.

to dare to express love and graciousness while others act in fear and express hate.

to reject the death penalty as a legitimate expression of justice and to always seek restorative justice.

to welcome and embrace all whom fear says should be labeled, excluded, expelled.

to accept full forgiveness and offer full forgiveness to hurtful people.

to undermine the ascendency of self-serving, greed-defined market practices with self-giving acts of community and neighborliness.

to say “no" to death in the midst of life; to deny death it’s victory of foregone conclusions.

John Franklin Hay 
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday Neighborhood Prayer Walk

Here's how we prayer walked our urban neighborhood this Good Friday evening

Let us set out on a walk through our nearby neighborhood, stopping to pray at various points of community pain or hope. We have adapted the Roman Catholic tradition of following the Stations of the Cross as a public expression of faith. Walk and pray with us through our community. We will conclude each prayer with “Lord, in your mercy…” Response: “…Hear our prayer!”

Station 1: People’s Health Center

We pray: We grieve the difficulty our neighbors have getting access to good, affordable health care. We are grateful for People’s Health Center and Healthnet. We pray healing wisdom for all doctors, nurses, technicians, and staff who serve our neighbors here.

Station 2: St. Clair Senior Apartments

We pray: We grieve the many ways our society disregards and devalues senior adults. We are grateful for the creation of affordable senior adult housing that provides safety and security for many of our retired neighbors and neighbors with disabilities. We pray grace for senior adults—and all who serve seniors in our community.

Station 3: Commercial spaces at St. Clair Senior Apartments

We pray: We grieve the loss and absence of essential economic resources in our community. When basic services and commercial opportunities are missing, the costs to our neighbors are high. We are grateful for faithful and new businesses and services in the area. We pray for expansion and development of local industries and services that will fully occupy available commercial spaces, making good and services readily accessible and affordable to our neighbors.

Station 4: East Tenth Children & Youth Center’s Playground

We pray: We grieve when children are neglected and not given opportunity for early learning, guided care, and safe places to play and grow. We are grateful for East Tenth UMC CYC’s faithfulness to neighborhood children over more than 20 years. We pray wisdom for the staff and provision of generous resources to continue to provide creative and comprehensive care for children infant through pre-K.

Station 5: An abandoned house

We pray: We grieve the irresponsible actions, neglect, and financial problems that bring houses into disrepair, abandonment, and blight. We pray breakthrough in local policies and resources that will challenge blight and bring real estate exploiters and unreachable property owners to accountability and justice. May reinvestment transform abandonment into places of vibrant household living.

Station 6: A substandard rental house

We pray: We grieve the circumstances that prevent people from accessing safe, clean, affordable housing. We grieve property owners and landlords who compromise their dignity and the dignity of renters by providing dismal living conditions. We grieve the crime, illegal drug activity, and prostitution that festers in such settings. We pray for changed hearts of property owners and landlords. We pray watchfulness and wisdom for city health inspectors and law enforcement. And we pray breakthroughs for neighbors caught up in self-defeating lifestyles.

Station 7: A new house and a rehabbed house

We pray: We are grateful for community organizations and local resources that come together to make new and rehabbed houses affordable and available to neighbors. We are grateful for how this begins to revitalize our neighborhood. We pray safety for all construction workers, continued local resources to support this work, and for the families who will soon occupy these homes.

Station 8: A corner where youth are frequently present

We pray: Our hearts go out to all youth—and particularly to young people without caring support at home. We grieve the shortage of engaging initiatives and safe, supportive places where youth can grow without the undue risks of street life. We are grateful for places like the Boner Fitness & Learning Center at the Chase Legacy Building and City Life Youth Drop-in Center that offer help and hope. We pray new and more opportunities for youth in our community. And we pray that young people will be kept safe and find purposeful places of belonging and development.

Station 9: A pocket park

We pray: We grieve the sparseness of green spaces and play places across our community. We are grateful for the emergence of pocket parks and local playgrounds where children and families can safely walk and play. We pray breakthrough for plans for a new neighborhood park that will be fully equipped as a place for neighbors to enjoy green space and gather.

Station 10: An IndyGo Bus Stop

We pray: We are grateful for the provision of transit services in our community that provide mobility to thousands of neighbors each day. We are grateful for the promise of upgraded services. We pray safety and accessibility for all neighbors who use our city’s transit network to navigate to and from work and needed services each day.

Station 11: The Jefferson Apartments

We pray: We grieve the often high cost of rental housing for many of our lower income neighbors. We are grateful for the provision of affordable multi-family housing facilities like The Jefferson Apartments. We are grateful for the connection to services and homeownership readiness that residents can access. We pray peace upon each household dwelling in these apartments and condominiums.

Station 12: John Boner Neighborhood Center

We pray: We are grateful for the presence and range of services provided through the John Boner Neighborhood Center—from senior services to job training to emergency assistance offered to neighbors. We pray generous support for the Center and grace for the staff and volunteers who serve hundreds of neighbors weekly through this place.

Station 13: A rain garden on E. 10th St.

We pray: We grieve the many unsafe sidewalks and streets pedestrians traverse. We are grateful for the investment in the E. 10th Street streetscape, with its trees, rain gardens, and safety features. We pray safety for all who travel these sidewalks and streets each day.

Station 14: East Tenth United Methodist Church

We pray: We are deeply grateful for th presence and service of this congregation for over 100 years on this street and in this community. We pray continued faithfulness, foresight, and Spirit-guided care to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this place—both now and for the future.

There is so much more for which to pray--and to shape our prayers into actions of investment and service and advocacy.

Look around your community, your neighborhood. For what can you give thanks? For what can you intercede? How can you make a difference with your resources?

John Franklin Hay
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA