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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 assembly,

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.]