Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

A Prayer for Pentecost

This prayer can also be sung as a hymn.  It works well with the tune of “The Servant Song” composed by Richard Gilliard copyright 1977 Maranatha Music.


Holy Spirit, come with power, breathe into our aching night.

We expect you this glad hour, waiting for Your strength and light.

We are fearful, we are ailing, we are weak and selfish too.

Break upon Your congregation, give us vigor, life anew.

Holy Spirit, come with fire, burn us with Your presence new.

Let us as one mighty choir sing our hymn of praise to You.

Burn away our wasted sadness and enflame us with Your love.

Burst upon Your congregation, give us gladness from above.

Holy Spirit, bring your message, burn and breathe each Word anew

deep into our tired living ’till we strive Your work to do.

Teach us love and trusting kindness, lend our hands to those who hurt.

Breathe upon Your congregation, and inspire us with Your Word.

May 27, 2012 Posted by | ecclesiology, Holy Spirit, liturgy, Pentecost, prayers, theology, worship | Leave a comment

Hymn for Pentecost #2 “Send Down the Fire.”

Words and tune by Marty Haugen. Copyright 1989 by GLA Publications, Inc.

The refrain is to be sung before each verse and then once more in conclusion after all verses are completed.

Send Down the Fire


Send down the fire of Your justice,

Send down the rainse of Your love,

Come, send down the Spirit,

Breathe life in your people, and

We shall be people of God.

1. Call us to be Your compassion,

Teach us the song of Your love;

Give us hearts that sing,

Give us deeds that ring,

Make us ring with

the song of Your love.

2. Call us to learn of Your mercy,

Teach us the way of Yourpeace;

Give us hearts that feel,

Give us hands that heal,

Make us walk in

the way of Your peace.

3. Call us to answer oppression,

Teach us the fire of Your trugh;

Give us righteous souls,

‘Til Your justice rolls,

Make us burn with

the fire of Your love.

4. Call us to witness Your Kingdom,

Give us the presence of Christ;

May Your holy light

Keep us shining bright,

Ever shine with

the presence of Christ.

May 27, 2012 Posted by | blog series, Holy Spirit, hymns, liturgy, Pentecost, theology, worship | Leave a comment

Hymns for Pentecost #1 “Spirit Blowing Through Creation.”

Words and tune from Marty Haugen. Copyright 1987 by GLA Publications, Inc.

Spirit Blowing Through Creation

1. Spirit blowing through creation,

Spirit burning in the skies,

Let the hope of your salvation

fill our eyes;

God of splendor, God of glory,

You who light the stars above,

All the heavens tell the story

of Your love. (To verse 2)

2. As  You moved upon the waters,

As You ride upon the wind,

Move us all Your sons and daughters,

deep within;

As You shaped the hills and mountains,

Formed the land and filled the deep,

Let your hand renew and waken

all who sleep. (To refrain).

3. Love that sends the rivers dancing,

Love that waters all that lives,

Love that heals and holds and rouses

and forgives;

You are food for all Your creatures,

You are hunger in the soul,

In Your hand the brokenhearted

are made whole. (To verse 4).

4. All the creatures You have fashioned,

All that live and breathe in You,

Find their hope in Your compassion,

strong and true;

You, O Spirit of salvation,

You alone, beneath, above,

Come, renew Your whole creation

in Your love. (To refrain).


Spirit renewing the earth,

renewing the hearts of all people;

Burn in the weary souls,

blow through the silent lips,

come now awake us,

Spirit of God.

May 27, 2012 Posted by | blog series, Holy Spirit, hymns, liturgy, Pentecost, theology, worship | Leave a comment

Labor Day: A Prayer by Ken Sehested

Labor Day:

A Communal Prayer by Rev. Ken Sehested

Creator God, we give thanksthis day for work:

for work that sustains; for work that fulfills;

for work which, however tiring, also satisfies

and resonates with Your labor in creation.

As part of our thanks we intercede

for those who have no work,

who have too much or too little work;

who work at jobs that demean or destroy,

work that profits the few

at the expense of the many.

Blessed One, extend  your redemptive purpose

in the many and varied places of our work.

In factory or field, in sheltered office

or under open sky, using technical knowledge

or physical strength, working with machines

or with people or with the earth itself.

Together we promise:

To bring the full weight of our intelligence

and strength to our work.

Together we promise:

To make our place of work a place of safety

and respect for all with whom we labor.

Together we refuse:

To engage in work that harms another,

that promotes injustice or violence,

that damages the earth or otherwise

betrays the common good;

or to resign ourselves to economic

arrangements that widen the gap

between rich and poor.

Together we refuse:

To allow our work to infringe

on time with our families and friends,

with our community of faith,

with the rhythym of Sabbath rest.

Together we affirm:

The rights of all to work that both

fulfills and sustains:  to just wages

and to contentment.

Together we affirm:

That the redeeming and transforming

power of the Gospel, will all its

demands for justice and its promises

of mercy, is as relevant to the workplace

as to the sanctuaries of faith and family.

We make these promises,

we speak these refusals

and we offer these affirmations

as offering to You, O God–

who labors with purpose and

lingers in laughter–in response

to your ever-present grace, as

symbols of our ongoing repentance

and transformation, and in hope

that one day all the world

shall eat and be satisfied.


From Ken Sehested, In the Land of the Living:  Prayers Personal and Public (Publications United, 2009).

September 4, 2011 Posted by | liturgy, prayers, worship | Leave a comment

Hymn: Cuando El Pobre ( “When the Poor Ones”)

My congregation sings hymns from all over the world.  One of our favorite is a Latin American hymn from 1971 (early Liberation Theology era, when most of Latin America was under rightwing dictatorships, many of them actively supported by the U.S. guns and money) written by A. Oliver and Miguel Manzano.  The English translation is by George Lockwood.  They hymn is a meditation on Matt. 25: 31-46.  I haven’t figured out how to print music on this blog, but this is sung in unison in 6/8 time.  The tune is challenging but the powerful words make it worthwhile. I will give both the Spanish and English of all 4 verses.  Enjoy.

Spanish original:

  1. Cuando el pobre nada tiene y aun reparte, cuando el hombre pasa sed y aguano da, cuando el débil a su hermano fortalece,  [Estribillo] va Dios mismo en nuestro mismo caminar, va Dios mismo en nuestro mismo caminar.
  2. Cuando sufre un hombre y logra su consuelo, cuando espera y no se cansa de esperar, cuando amamos, aunque el odio nos rodee, [Estribillo] va Dios mismo en nuestro mismo caminar, va Dios mismo en nuestro mismo caminar.
  3. Cuando crece la alegria y nos inunda, cuando dicen nuestros labios la verdad, cuando amamos el sentir de los sencillos, [Estribillo] va Dios mismo en nuestro mismo caminar, va Dios mismo en nuestro mismo caminar.
  4. Cuando abunda el bien y llena los hogares, cuando un hombre donde hay guerra pone paz, cuando “hermano” le llamamos al extraño, [Estribillo] va Dios mismo en nuestro mismo caminar, va Dios mismo en nuestro mismo caminar.

English translation:

  1. When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers, when the thirsty water give unto us all, when the crippled in their weakness strengthen others, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
  2. When at last all those who suffer find their comfort, when they hope though even hope seems hopelessness, when we love though hate at times seems all around us, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
  3. When our joy fills up our cup to overflowing, when our lips can speak no words other than true, when we know that love for simple things is better, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
  4. When our homes are filled with goodness in abundance, when we learn how to peace instead of war, when each stranger that we meet is called a neighbor, [Refrain] then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.

August 14, 2011 Posted by | hymns, liturgy, worship | 4 Comments

Pentecostal Passion: A Poem by Ken Sehested

My friend, Rev. Ken Sehested, is a bit of an odd duck. (No wonder we’re friends. 🙂 ) A Texas Baptist by conviction and upbringing, he swam upstream enough to quit football when a student at Baylor so that he could devote more time to his studies! (A male athlete voluntarily quitting FOOTBALL–the REAL dominant religion of the South–in order to be more studious is unheard of in the South. In Texas, the debate would be over whether to call in the psychiatrists or begin a heresy trial!) He then bucked tradition further by studying for the ministry NOT in one of the six Southern Baptist seminaries, but in the ecumenical Union Theological Seminary, a school with a reputation for liberalism in that most un-Southern of places, NEW YORK CITY! He not only married a woman minister (Rev. Nancy Hastings Sehested), but put her calling first–moving to her pastoral placements in Atlanta, then Memphis, and, finally, Asheville, SC.  Ken was the founding Director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and led that fine organization for two decades. Today, is one third of a co-equal pastoral team (along with Joyce Hollyday and Nancy Hastings Sehested) of the ecumenical congregation, Circle of Mercy, in Asheville, NC–a self-declared peace church jointly affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Alliance of Baptists.  Ken is also a poet and writer on theologically-related topics.  This poem of Ken’s was inspired by his study of Ezekiel 34:1-14; Acts 2:17; Romans 8:22.

Pentecostal Passion

Pentecostal power has little to do with

exaggerated religious emotion. But

such power, when granted,

has everything to do

with passion, with conviction.

It’s not your head that

you lose4–it’s your heart,

which falls head-over-heals

in love with the vision of dry bones

re-sinewed and aspired to life.

When such power erupts, they

probably will call you crazy.

“Have you lost your mind?!”

Yes, we will say, because

these days the mind has

become acclimated to a culture

of war; has become inured to

the ravages of poverty in a culture

of obesity; has become numb

to ecological wreckage.

When Pentecostal power erupts, all

heaven’s gonna break loose.

The boundaries will be compromised;

barriers will be broken; and

borders will be breached.

Economies of privilege will be fractured

and the politics of enmity will be impeached.

The revenge of the Beloved is the

reversal of Babel’s bequest.

“I will pour out my Spirit,”

says the LORD; Poured out

not for escape to another

world beyond the sky but

here, amid the dust. Poured out

not on disembodied spirits but

“upon all flesh.”  It is to the

agony of abandonment that Heaven

is aroused.  Queer the One Who

fashions a future for the disfavored.

The groaning of creation is both

an ache and an assurance.  We

dare not insulate ourselves from

the one, lest we be deafened to

the other.  Birth is at work.

Though the labor is prolonged,

provision is tendered.

Pentecostal power is the wherewithal

by which we wager our lives on

the surety of this promise.


Ken Sehested

August 13, 2011 Posted by | Biblical interpretation, liturgy, peace, Pentecost, poetry, worship | Leave a comment

Peace Sunday: 1,000 Candles, 1,000 Cranes

The following song by the folk group, Small Potatoes, was sung by my friends Donna and Dan Trabue at church today.  It says more than I can and it always makes me–the grandchild of a World War II veteran who fought in the Pacific and the friend of several Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals–cry my eyes out.

Rich Prezioso, ©1999 Tatertunes Music, BMI

My grandmother had three sons
She dreamed about her children’s children
Then came 1941
Only one son would see the war end

Joseph died marching in Bataan
Frank on the sands of Iwo Jima
The day the bomb destroyed Japan
She thanked God and Harry Truman

She blamed the “godless Japanese”
For having crushed her sweetest dreams
One thousand candles for my sons
Every day I will remember

In Illinois, far from her past
Miss Nakamura still remembers
She was six when she saw the flash
That turned the world to smoke and ashes

Mother taught her daughter well
Run from the fire to the river
There she found a living hell
But not a mother or a father

Though she survived with just a scrape
Her family vanished into space
One thousand suns, a thousand cranes
Everyday I will remember

My grandmother had three sons
She never dreamed she’d have a daughter
But at the age of eighty-one
She met a nurse named Nakamura

It was a question only meant
To make some talk and pass the hours
About a picture by the bed
A photograph of two young soldiers

Hatred and anger stored for years
Slowly melted into tears
One thousand candles, a thousand cranes
Everyday I will remember

I’ve a picture in my mind
Of two women slowly walking
August 6th, 1985
Walking to church to light a candle

And they once asked me to explain
Why grown men play such foolish games
One thousand candles, a thousand cranes
Everyday I will remember

August 7, 2011 Posted by | History, hymns, Just Peacemaking, liturgy, peace, worship | Leave a comment

O God of ALL the Nations

This is My Song— A hymn by Lloyd Stone

This is my song, O God of ALL the nations,

A song of peace for lands afar–and mine.

This is my home, the country where my heart is;

Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.

But other hearts in other lands are beating,

With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

 My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,

And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.

But other lands have sunlight too and clover,

And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.

O hear my song, O God of all the nations,

A song of peace for their land–and mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation

May peace aboundwhere strife has raged so long;

That each may seek to love and build together,

A world united, righting every wrong.

A world united in its love for freedom,

Proclaiming peace together in one song.

July 3, 2011 Posted by | composers, hymns, justice, liturgy, worship | Leave a comment

Better Christmas Carols #2 “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” by Ken Sehested

As readers of this blog know, I already think that this traditional carol is one of the best Advent/Christmas carols around. The lyrics are already subversive of our rich, complacent, self-satisfied status quo. But when we sing the same lyrics year after year, we can cease to notice their power.  Rev. Ken Sehested, radical Baptist preacher, formerly the founding Executive Director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, currently co-pastor of Circle of Mercy congregation in Asheville, NC has done us a great favor by writing new lyrics for this hymn that bring out anew its utter radicality.

O come, thou fount of Mercy, come

And light the path of journey home

From Pharaoh’s chains grant liberty

From Herod’s rage, confirm thy guarantee

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, thou Watchful Keeper, bestow

Glad heart, warm home to creatures below

Give cloud by day and fire by night

Guide feet in peace with heaven’s delight

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Secure the lamb, the wolf no longer preys

Secure the child, no fear displays

The vow of vengeance bound evermore

God’s holy mountain safe and adored

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Arise, you fear-confounded, attest

With Insurrection’s voice confess

Though death’s confine and terror’s darkest threat

Now govern earth’s refrain…and yet

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O spring, from Jesse’s root, the ransom flower

From Mary’s womb, annunciating power

Bend low you hills, arise you prostrate plain

All flesh shall see, all lips join in refrain:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, announce the Blessed Manger’s reach

All Herod-hearted, murd’rous plans impeach

Abolish every proud and cruel throne

Fill hungry hearts, guide every exile home.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel!

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Advent, composers, hymns, liturgy, worship | Leave a comment

Better Christmas Carols #1 “Cry of a Tiny Babe” by Bruce Cockburn

Mary grows a child without the help of a man
Joseph get upset because he don’t understand
Angel comes to Joseph in a powerful dream
Says “God did this and you’re part of the scheme!”
Joseph comes to Mary with his hat in his hand
Says “forgive me I thought you’d been with some other man.”
She says “what if I had been – but I wasn’t anyway and guess what
I felt the baby kick today”

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

The child is born in the fullness of time
Three wise astrologers take note of the signs
Come to pay their respects to the fragile little king
Get pretty close to wrecking everything
‘Cause the governing body of the Holy Land
Is that of Herod, a paranoid man
Who when he hears there’s a baby born King of the Jews
Sends death squads to kill all male children under two
But that same bright angel warns the parents in a dream
And they head out for the border and get away clean

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

There are others who know about this miracle birth
The humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth
For it isn’t to the palace that the Christ child comes
But to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums
And the message is clear if you’ve got  ears to hear
That forgiveness is given for your guilt and your fear
It’s a Christmas gift [that] you don’t have to buy
There’s a future shining in a baby’s eyes

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Advent, composers, liturgy, worship | Leave a comment