A public prayer offered in Boston in commemoration of the
Great Irish Famine
Kenneth F. Baily
2012 May 5
Mr. President, honored assemblers who enliven this hall with your very
In County Kerry in 1978, I walked into the primary school building in the
town of Listowel to hear music performed there during a Fleadh Cheoil.
On this school's bulletin board was a notice that sticks still in my mind and
I've quoted in several sermons. It said, 34 years ago, "Ireland is the
26th wealthiest nation in the world. This means we have a great responsibility
to share from our bounty and feed those in need." And it asked for
donations. This proud, breathtaking, and honest self-understanding and
self-challenge echoes still as the call to us here gathered to remember and to
imagine -- indeed to act -- for the needs of our own day and time. In the
unity of that spirit, let us pray...
Holy one of Israel, Divine, compassionate Spirit of this good
creation and all of its human gifts and graces, we have but a moment here --
but an instant -- to unite our spirits in solemn prayer, undertaking something
that is not necessarily the inclination for all of us all of the time:
To think beyond ourselves
To serve beyond ourselves
To give beyond ourselves so that we can both perceive and press on to
relieve the hunger of our world today.
In a global history where some of the words of Jesus are taken to divide
and even conquer, let us receive one common trinity of his expression with
clarity and conviction: "feed my sheep."
In a time-tried community where the word Protestant has not always
revealed a covenant of lovingkindness, forgive us our past sins, and move us
to give more daily bread, now.
In an era when our very culture engages the mendacity of hunger games,
empower us to retain the wisdom, gravitas, and felicity to proclaim
that we can gather twelve baskets full to share.
Inspire us for the living of these days.
From Africa to Asia, from Pacific Islands to Atlantic shores, Somalia to
Somerville, Ethiopia to East Boston, from Phoenix Park to Faneuil Hall unite
us as a people accepting the wisdom of ancestors and sharing the provisions of
promise, saying "never again" to what was, and "here I am, send
me" to what is.
In order to think beyond ourselves, to serve beyond ourselves, to live
beyond ourselves and to bless beyond ourselves, overcoming the principalities
and powers of hesitation and separation with the hope of your Holy Spirit for
our world now, Amen.
[For further information about the event
and a picture, click here.]