The SOMA Interfaith Thanksgiving Service brought clergy from a variety of houses of worship together to offer thanks and prayers for strength and justice during this period of trial in our lives. We are grateful to Rabbi Jesse Olitsky, Rev. Molege Desir, Rabbi Daniel Cohen, Rev. Janice Lynn, Rabbi Mark Cooper, Rev. Richard Boyer, Cantor Erica Lippitz, Rabbi Rachel Marder, and Rev. Liz Testa. We are especially grateful to Rev. Testa, one of the Coalition's trustees, who shared the prayer below that takes into consideration Dr. King's vision of the beloved community--a vision that is integral to the racial inclusion and equity mission of the Coalition. To watch the entire service, click here.
November 24, 2020
A Prayer of Gratitude for Beloved Community
O Creator, thank you for the gift of community, Creador, te agradecemos por el gran regalo de nuestra comunidad…and for the amazing, diverse people of our two towns of Maplewood and South Orange, and neighboring communities. We thank you for the way so many different peoples have been drawn together, sharing life together and, in the words of the prophet Micah, seeking ways to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with You.
And so we begin by honoring the ancestors of this land that we now inhabit, the Lenni Lenape people, even as we acknowledge and lament the injustices brought upon them. We give thanks for their lives and legacy.
O God, we thank you for the vision of Beloved Community, a vision developed and championed by your faithful follower and a great leader of our times, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We give you thanks that we are in a place in this world where we are free to even strive to live into its principles of nonviolence and right relationship among all peoples. May we never take that freedom for granted!
In this spirit, we humbly offer gratitude and thanksgiving that we are inspired to be a community that together:
- Is courageous to resist evil – and to actively work to overcome poverty, racism and violence of all kinds
- Seeks authentic friendships and understanding
- Joins together to defeat systemic injustices
- Accepts suffering as part of the human journey, and finds ways to use it in pathways for redemption, education and transformation.
- Chooses love instead of hate – no matter how hard it may be sometimes – to embrace nonviolent love as spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.
- Holds fast, in faith, that you are a God of Justice and that the moral arc of the universe indeed bends towards it.
God of Unity and Compassion, we thank you for all the many ways we seek to embody these principles and for the ways we are able to band together, work through challenges and seek to make this community stronger and healthier for generations to come. Help us overcome the barriers and inequities, help us tear down the walls of bias and fear. Transform us by the power of your love.
God of Hope and Reconciliation, thank you that this community has so many people and organizations committed to justice and action! Thank you for SOMA action, SOMA Justice, the MAPSO Youth Collective to name a few; for our many faith-based and non-profit organizations and the Community Coalition on Race whose mission and vision is to build and sustain a community that is racially, culturally and socially integrated and truly inclusive where there is equity and equality for all, where people of different races, ethnic groups and backgrounds interact, form friendships and participate fully in the community’s economic, political, civic, educational and cultural life.
Loving God, you call us out of captivity into the freedom of beloved community. Thank you for this good and precious gift, may we be strengthened and inspired to embrace and embody it fully.
It is in the name of Love that we pray, Amen.
Written by Rev. Liz Testa, Community Coalition on Race Trustee and Interfaith Committee Liaison
References to Dr. King’s vision for Beloved Community drawn from https://thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy/, with respect and gratitude.