“Help Us” adapted from Rev. Dr. William Barber’s op-ed in The Atlantic by Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, originally published on The Resistance Prays
God, we want to make right the wrongs of our nation’s immoral wars. We repent for our thinking, our believing, our insisting that bombs and missiles and drones and tanks could ever bring peace. We are on our knees and pray for your forgiveness. We hope more of our American Christian siblings will join us on our knees. And we pray today that we all leave the political scapegoating behind, to do whatever we can to help our desperate sisters and brothers in Afghanistan. We’ve got a lot of work to do. Help us. Amen.
“A Lament for Kabul” by Dr. William Brown (Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary)
Message from Dr. Brown: Like so many, I have been at a complete loss for words at the atrocity unfolding in Afghanistan. After rereading the biblical book of Lamentations, I now have a few words to express my own sorrow and shame for the people of Afghanistan. What follows is an adaption of several passages of Lamentations. Granted, the comparison between modern Kabul and ancient Jerusalem is incongruous, but the resonances are striking. As with so many laments of antiquity, the city was personified as a woman, and so I’ve retained this ancient form of rhetoric in honor of Afghan women, who will suffer the most under Taliban rule. I offer these words in full awareness of how imperfect they are to the anguished words of Afghan women and men who are trying to escape Taliban rule or have resolved to stay for the sake of resistance or reform. May God be with them.
A Lament for Kabul:
How abandoned sits the city,
once full of people with desire and hope.
How like a widow she has become,
she that was great throughout her country.
She that was the last stronghold among the provinces
has now become a vassal.
She weeps bitterly day and night,
tears streaming down her cheeks.
She has no one now to comfort her;
all her “friends” have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.
The roads to Kabul are blocked,
all her gates are closed.
Her young women grieve,
for their prospects are bitter.
Her foes have become the masters;
her oppressors prosper.
They speak peace and amnesty,
while beating, targeting, and harassing.
From daughter Kabul has departed all hope.
Her leaders have betrayed her;
they fled without strength before the pursuer.
The nations hang their heads in shame,
their “good” intentions having paved this way to hell,
their interventions fostering aspiration ruined by corruption.
The leaders of the nations did not believe,
nor did any of the inhabitants of the world,
that foe or enemy could enter so quickly
the very gates of Kabul.
“Is it nothing to you, all who have come and are now gone?
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow!
For these things I weep, my eyes flow with tears;
my mouth is filled with outrage.
My children are desolate,
for the enemy has prevailed.”
May the day come when salam is restored;
when our mourning turns to dancing,
and the joy of our hearts returns,
when our women and men, children and elders, can flourish,
to determine their lives and serve in freedom.
And may it happen on our terms for once.
May Allah be our portion.
“For the area we call Afghanistan” by Barbara Kellam-Scott (PPF Activist Council member)
May I be content to be heart on, hands off,
To withhold all judgment of should have, should now.
To remember it’s too late for all that,
At least a century too late.
It is not our land,
even though we took our turn at trying to make it in our image.
The varied people of this place, these places,
With their several languages, cultures, beliefs,
Are, however, members of the Kindred we call God,
Beloved as we are, subjects of Grace if they will take it.
May I be content to let my heart call to each soldier
That he no longer needs that rifle,
If he wants his leader to be heard and recognized
By the world that tried to push and plan for his lands.
May I be content and compassionate,
But leave the resolution to the Spirit that binds me
To these my sisters
and, all of them, my brothers.
“Prayer for Wisdom, Forgiveness, and Hope” by Betsy Simpson (PPF Activist Council member)
O Lord, our God, our strength and our comfort in these dark days. You are the Creator of all that is and desire only peace and justice; this we know and believe. Nevertheless we find ourselves confronting our deep fears and the evil which seeks to harm ourselves and others with military force. Nonviolence feels weak and ineffective, but we still long to follow your path of love, even sacrificial love, on our journey of faith. Guide us with your wisdom, forgive us our failings, and inspire us with hope for better days. In the name and through the example of Jesus we pray. Amen.