A Message from Bishop Larry Kochendorfer
Dear Beloved of God –
This has been a season of revelation. A year has come and gone. This has been a season of apocalypse, which is, Biblically, a revealing. It is a pulling back of the curtains to see what lies behind.
Our current season has revealed what was always there, but perhaps now we see more clearly: injustice, racial inequality, consumerism, individualism, economic disparity, the marginalization of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and LGBTQ2SIA+ communities, plus trafficking, violence, climate crisis, polarization, xenophobia, and gender inequality. And this list could easily be added to.
During this time of apocalypse, I have been strengthened and given hope through the words and melody of a new hymn. This text and music have freed me to breath again. Through it I have been renewed in our shared baptismal calling to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
I discovered this new hymn in 2020 via a Facebook post, and I have shared it wherever I could.
In 2019, musician David LaMotte was commissioned by the North Carolina Council of Churches to write a hymn in honour of their eighty-fifth anniversary in 2020. The Council was formed to address racial injustice, and continues to work for peace, justice, equity, and inclusion. “God of the Movements and Martyrs” honours all those whose faith has called them to work for a better world, and invites us to join that sacred work. It reminds us that we are all kin, of one holy family.
The lyrics were written before the pandemic of Covid-19, but they resonate with these turbulent, apocalyptic times, calling us to the work of justice, in broad and inclusive community ... that sacred work.
The Council asked LaMotte to write the hymn to work in various musical styles and contexts, and they commissioned several musical interpretations of the hymn in addition to LaMotte’s. I encourage you to search “God of the Movements and Martyrs” on YouTube to experience its variety of musical expressions using the hymn text. The Convergence Music Project (convergencemp.com) handles licensing and usage.
Today, I invite you to slowly read and to dwell on the hymn text. What phrase speaks to you? Why? What surprises you? Where are you invited into prayer or moved to compassion? Where are you freed to breath again or stirred to strive for justice and peace? Where are you invited into this sacred work?
God of the movements and martyrs, God of the powerless child, God of broken and hopeless and unreconciled,
God of the just and the faithful, God of the night and the day, God of the whole of creation, in your name we pray.
Many have followed the savior into the face of the storm, Strengthened by long generations, by love they were formed.
In basements of tall steepled churches, in shadows of fences and walls, In alleys and hallways of power, they answered your call.
Now it’s our turn to do justice, humbly we rise to the day, Give us the strength and the wisdom to walk in your way. Gather the loaves and the fishes, share until all have been fed, Walk in compassion and mercy, by love we’ll be led,
Standing in circles surrounding, all holding hands while we pray,
When powers bear down on the helpless, we’ll stand in the way.
God of the worn and the wounded, let us be healed by the truth,
When doorways are blocked, we will lower our friends through the roof.
God of the circle that holds us, God of the ones pushed away,
We will reach out to our neighbors; in your name we’ll say:
No matter your creed or your country, no matter the hue of your skin, Your age, who you love, or the body your soul was born in,
No matter the places you’re broken, no matter the things you have done, Lay down that weight on the altar, a new day’s begun.
You are a child of the maker, you are beloved and known,
Join us in work of the kin-dom, we welcome you home.*
*Lyrics used by permission of the author, David LaMotte.
In Christ Jesus –
+Bishop Larry Kochendorfer
“The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)