By Ken Nafziger
“Love your neighbors–not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have.”
“People think that there is a country there [and] that these people are only around when they are on CNN… I think Haiti is a place that suffers so much from neglect that people only want to hear about it when it’s at its extreme. And that’s what they end up knowing about it.”
–Edwige Danticat, Haitian author
Haiti, a country slightly smaller than the state of Maryland, and lying a little more than 700 miles from Miami, comes into our consciousness mostly at times of disaster.
Gathering: In the presence of an expansive God
Worship planners could use Sirach 39:12–35 as a shaping passage for the gathering time. It names the basic things necessary to life, questions the importance of human value judgments, and gives exuberant praise to the Creator. Follow with lots of singing.
Choose hymns from each of these lists:
HWB 72 When all thy mercies
HWB 167 For God so loved us
HWB 327 Great is thy faithfulness
STJ 6 Jesu tawa pano
STJ 46 Vin pran
STJ 97 The Lord is my light
STS 5 Open my ears, open my eyes
STS 113 I will stand in the congregation
HWB 145 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
HWB 353 Lord, listen to your children praying
Confessing: In the presence of a welcoming God
Prayer and hymn of confession
STS 192 Wind of God, blow far from us . . .
STS 117 How can I say that I love the Lord
Proclaiming: In the Kingdom of God
Luke 10:29b–37: Have someone in the congregation read the story in Creole or French, if possible, as well as English.
Break open this familiar story by sharing several brief stories of “one who showed mercy,” drawn from Haitian settings and here as well. After a respectful silence following each story, a sung alleluia would be appropriate.
Praying and sending: Repairing and restoring
HWB 395 Here I am, Lord
Reading from Isaiah 58 (full arrangement online)
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
A season of intercessory prayer
HWB 229 Tú has venido a la orilla
Benediction: HWB 769, read in unison
Make a home.
Help to make a community.
Be loyal to what you have made.
Love your neighbors—not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have.
Love this miraculous world that is a gift to us.
Ken Nafziger is professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University.