Monday, January 29, 2018

Lament for South Sudan

God most High, who designed this earth in fine detail,
You blessed this fertile land and formed the peoples who call it home.
We see them laugh, embracing life, teeth gleaming white against night-dark skin.
Ornate beadwork and bright flowing robes distinctly mark their tribe.
They are always eager to welcome a stranger with a meal.
Tall, strong people, their courage proved by the deep cuts of the knife in their youth that leave the scars across their forehead.
Some tilled fertile land to abundant harvest or plied the web of rivers rich with fish.
Others raised their boys to follow the cows – perhaps hundreds, kept without fences because they were affectionately known and cared for.
Lord, we celebrate these beautiful and diverse peoples in the land of South Sudan,
Surely you blessed them by giving them this land.

The tribes together endured the long years of war with their northern neighbor,
oppressed and forgotten as power changed hands.
They cried out to you, God, earnest prayers of united hope,
While working and fighting for years on end.
You answered their prayers, rescued them.
Independence at last, and freedom from oppressor.
“We praise and glorify you for your grace on South Sudan”,
declare the opening words of the national anthem.
You answered prayers – surely peace had finally come.

Lord, we cry to you – we trust in you;
You alone are our salvation, you alone are our hope.

Lord, did you turn away just as South Sudan rejoiced?
‘Uphold us united in peace and harmony’, people sang at national events;
But inner turmoil quickly soured the barely tasted peace.
Cattle raiding, revenge killing, child abductions, ethnic cleansing;
People are fleeing, weeping, hiding, dying.
Forced from home, waiting in camps for elusive peace;
New enemies now– hunger, cholera, poverty, despair.
A fresh agreement signed by factions, but hopes dashed when hostility resumes.
Lord, where are you now?

Lord, we cry to you – we trust in you;
You alone are our salvation, you alone are our hope.

Lord, do you see your children here?
Susan, a widow, scrubs floors and washes clothes,
But does not earn enough for her son to go to school.
We watch boys wearily pick up their cardboard mats in the early morning,
building a fire out of trash to warm themselves. They left their families – because of hunger? Or war?
Or pushed out when poverty weighed down and parents needed someone to blame.
Eager young children want to go to school –the future of South Sudan, people say.
But long months without pay make teachers desperate –
they refuse to teach, or withhold the reports that allow students to start a new year.
Prices climb higher, but salaries don’t, as the currency slides.
Now the sack of flour that feeds ten days takes the whole month’s lot.
Even the soil heaves a sigh and shudders from the struggle,
Farmers too afraid to plant because of raiders lurking near.
Lord, we know that you see the suffering, you care for the poor.
Why do you let this continue? Will there never be relief??

Lord, we cry to you – we trust in you;
You alone are our salvation, you alone are our hope.

God, you created this mosaic of peoples, you called them good.
You gave them faith that perseveres, that continues to call out to you.
In spite of the greed or power or disregard from their leaders,
The people low in the world continue to hold up this land;
As they gather to worship and pray for peace
They are the hope for South Sudan.

Lord, we cry to you – we trust in you;
You alone are our salvation, you alone are our hope.


Jim B said...

Wonderful tribute to a good people suffering now.

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