Here are some selected worship songs for this morning.
This next suggestion comes from Debbie Wagler who sings in this choir which is a collaboration of Inshallah Community and Peace Lutheran Church.
"My heart has been very heavy with processing the news of the 215 Indigenous children whose deaths were hidden at the Kamloops school.
How could this happen? How could people of faith let this happen and cover it up?
I turn to mourning and to prayer! Singing is a powerful way to pray, and I would like to offer a prayer of mourning in the form of a song that I first learned in my choir. Inshallah is a choir where we sing songs of faith from around the world and learn about the contexts of these songs of praise and lament. (Fun side note: Lois also sings in Inshallah.) “Senzenina” comes from South Africa and was first sung during apartheid, a time of deep racial discrimination and oppression. It was a protest song that was often sung at funerals or in anti-apartheid demonstrations.
Today we can also sing this song as a protest to the segregation, abuse, and discrimination that occurred through the residential school system in Canada.
The Zulu or Xhosa word “Senzenina” has the meaning “What have we done?” If we sing this song as people who are privileged and who benefit from a system that does not oppress us, we must ask, “What have we done?” personally and as a culture to create and maintain systems that cause harm to others. This is an important question to ask as we consider the undocumented deaths of these 215 children.
“Senzenina” also implies “What have we done to deserve this?” Imagine how different this song’s meaning is when sung by people who are oppressed, segregated, and discriminated against? “What have we done to deserve this?”
As privileged people, we can also sing, “What have we done to deserve this [privilege]?” This type of mourning is necessary as we seek healing, restoration, and equity. As you hear and sing this song, pray for freedom for the oppressed."
We begin a new series on prayer this week, looking at the ancient practice of praying the hours of the day.
In the sixth century, St Benedict formalized the practice for his Benedictine monks by naming each hour, and it has since formed the basis of prayer for many monastics as well as those in all areas of religious life. The day begins with Matins or Vigils (midnight to dawn), followed by Lauds or Morning Prayer (dawn), Terce or the third hour of the day (referring to daylight, usually around midmorning), Sext or the six hour (noon), None or the ninth hour (mid afternoon), Vespers or Evensong (twilight), and Compline or Night Prayer (before retiring, around 9pm).
This week we examine the first of the hours, and we begin not in the morning as you may think, but in the middle of the night. What is referred to as The Night Watch in scripture, holds themes of vigilance and deep listening, mystery and silence, surrender and trust.
“Seven times a day I praise you” (Psalm 119:164
“At midnight I will rise and thank you,” ~Psalm 119:162
“In the morning I will offer you my prayer” ~Psalm 5:3
“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.” ~Psalm 55:17
A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” ~1 Samuel 3:8-10
1. When do you find that you most often intentionally pray? Why is this the normal time for you? How does the time of day impact your prayer life?
2. When you think of the Night Watch, the sleeping hours, can you recall times of vigil, times of meaningful prayer? What were you praying about in those times?
3. In a season of life where many are experiencing harships, how might the themes of The Night Watch inform your prayer times this week, whenever they may be?
(Do you think you could try to intentionally arise in the Night and pray one day this week?)
The Night Watch Prayer Guide
My soul yearns for you, O God.
I keep vigil with you in the night.
I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord,
and I will obey your decrees.
I call out to you; save me
and I will keep your statutes.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
preserve my life, Lord, according to your laws.
‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ ~1 Samuel 3:10
‘For God alone my soul waits in silence.’ ~Psalm 62:1
Other Psalms for this hour Psalm 42, 63.
Rising from sleep in the heart of the night, I keep vigil with deep questions.
These deep questions reveal the infinite longings that have taken root in my being.
Holding vigil with the Guardian of Life,
whose eyes shine down upon all who live in fear of the night, I become quiet.
In the middle of the night I hold hands with trust,
and surrender to the One who sees without a light.
I too, see without a light.
I welcome my night eyes, my soul becoming my nightlight.
The Night Watch is a time for deep listening,
my prayer travels deep into my soul space
into the essence of my being.
Like Jesus, keeping watch the night before He died, I keep vigil.
I lean into the darkness and grow wise.
Take me down deep to the holy darkness of Love’s roots. Let me become one with One I love. Draw me into the depths. Night prayer is deep prayer. Let me go deep. Teach me the art of waiting with patience that I may grow strong, loving, and wise. Let me borrow your eyes O Beloved. Then I shall see in the dark. Amen.