A Prayer for Courts & Legislators

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The language is from an earlier time in America culture. Monday, October 8, 2018, the sentiment is on the cutting-edge.

walter rauschenbush

Walter Rauschenbusch, “father of the Social Gospel Movement”

 We beseech thee for those who are set to make and interpret the laws of our nation. Grant to all lawyers a deep consciousness that they are called of God to see justice done, and that they prostitute a holy duty if ever they connive in its defeat. Fill them with a high determination to make the courts of our land a strong fortress of defense of the poor and weak, and never a castle of oppression for the hard and cunning. [Walter Rauschenbusch, Prayers of the Social Awakening, 1910].

–Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 7, 2018

Prayer for the Nation 1/20/18

Fold your hands this January 20, 2018 — even if you think prayer is for the birds. The language is dated. But on the day of the shutdown one year after the Inauguration, Walter Rauschenbusch’s 1909 prayer “Against the Servants of Mammon” is as current as current can be.

Against the Servants of Mammon

We cry to thee for justice, O Lord, for our soul is weary with the iniquity of greed. Behold the servants of Mammon, who defy thee and drain their fellow men and women for gain; who grind down the strength of the workers by merciless toil and fling them aside when they are mangled and worn; who rack-rent the poor and make dear the space and air which thou has made free; who paralyze the hand of justice by corruption and blind the eyes of the people by lies; who nullify by their craft the merciless laws which nobler people have devised for the protection of the weak; who have made us ashamed of our dear country by their defilements and have turned our holy freedom into a hollow name; who have brought upon thy Church the contempt of men [and women] and have cloaked their extortion with the gospel of Christ.

“For the oppression of the poor and the sighing of the needy now do thou arise, O Lord; for because thou art love, and tender as a mother to the weak, therefore thou art the great hater of iniquity and thy doom is upon those who grow rich on the poverty of thy people.

O God, we are afraid, for the thundercloud of thy wrath is even now black above us. In the ruins of dead empires we have read how thou hast trodden the wine-press of thine anger when the measure of their sin was full. We are sick at heart when we remember that by the greed of those who enslaved a weaker race that curse was fastened upon us all which still lies black and hopeless across the land, though the blood of a nation was spilled to atone. Save our people from being dragged down into vaster guilt and woe by men who have no vision and know no law except their lust. Shake their souls with awe of thee that they may cease. Help us with clean hands to tear the web which they have woven about us and to turn our people back to thy law, lest the mark of the beast stand out on the right hand and forehead of our nation and our feet be set on the downward path of darkness from which there is no return.”

Walter Rauschenbusch, “Against the Servants of Mammon” published in Prayers of the Social Awakening, Pilgrim Press, 1910.

Like ‘thee’ and ‘thou’, most of us don’t use the word ‘Mammon’ anymore, but its odor is no less foul than when Jesus spoke of it in the first century of the Common Era. “You cannot serve God and Mammon.”

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— Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 20, 2018.

 

 

Prayer for Immigrants

Sometimes it helps to step outside our little moment in American life to seek wisdom from an earlier time.

Among the few books on my desk top is a collection of prayers first published in 1910. This morning we share part of one of those prayers.

For Immigrants

O thou great Champion of the outcast and the weak, we remember before thee the people of other nations who are coming to our land, seeking  bread, a home, and a future. …

We, too, are the children of immigrants, who came with anxious hearts and halting feet on the westward path of hope.

We beseech thee that our republic may no longer fail their trust. We mourn for the dark sins of past and present, wherein men who are in honor among us made spoil of the ignorant and helplessness of the strangers and sent them to an early death. In a nation dedicated to liberty may they not find the old oppression and the fiercer greed. May they never find that the arm of the law is but the arm of the strong. …

Make our great commonwealth once more a sure beacon-light of hope and a guide on the path which leads to the perfect union of law and liberty.

  • Walter Rauschenbusch, Prayers of the Social Awakening, The Pilgrim Press, New York and Chicago, 1925 (originally published by The Phillips Publishing Company in 1910.
  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, February 2, 2017.

A Prayer for the U.S. Senate Today

Homeless children and a society that didn’t care were the subjects of this century-old prayer by Walter Rauschenbusch, father of the Social Gospel movement that Glenn Beck loves to hate.

The language is dated. The substance is not. As the Senate sets about its debate of universal background checks and other measures to improve public safety, the children of Sandy Hook and their families also come to mind as those who find themselves “homeless” in a violent, uncaring world.

O Heavenly Father, whose unveiled face the angels of little children do always behold, look with love and pity, we beseech Thee, upon the children of the streets. Where men, in their busy and careless lives, have made a highway, these children of Thine have made a home and a school, and are learning the bad lessons of our selfishness and our folly. Save them, and save us, Lord. Save them from ignorance and brutality, from the shamelessness of lust, the hardness of greed, and the besotting of drink; and save us from the greater guilt of those that offend Thy little ones, and from the hypocrisy of those that see and see not, whose sin remaineth. Amen.

Out of the mouth of Walter Rauschenbusch

Walter Rauschenbusch, "father of the Social Gospel"

Walter Rauschenbusch (1861 – 1918), “father of the Social Gospel Movement”

“All human goodness is social goodness. Man is fundamentally gregarious and his morality consists in being a good member of his community.”

“The chief purpose of the Christian Church in the past has been the salvation of individuals. But the most pressing task of the present is not individualistic. Our business is to make over an antiquated and immoral economic system….”

The Rev. Walter Rauschenbusch had a profound impact on Christian theology and activism that led to the end of child labor and to legislation that protected worker rights in the early 20th Century. The man whose theology was shaped by his ministry with the poorest of the poor in the “Hell’s Kitchen” of New York City is the man from whose “Social Gospel” Glenn Beck now urges church members to flee for their lives.