Speech. Voice. Words.

This week’s guest writer is Mary Lou Klassen of Kitchener, Ontario who is currently serving as a peace lecturer with MCC in Jos, Nigeria.  Her poem is based on the readings of the Revised Common Lectionary for the Second Sunday of Epiphany: Genesis 1:1-5, Psalm 29, Acts 19:1-7, Mark 1:4-11

Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light.
The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl.
A voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” The Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

The father of one of 200 plus school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants from the community of Chibok, Nigeria, in April 2014.  MCC photo by Dave Klassen

The father of one of 200 plus school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants from the community of Chibok, Nigeria, in April 2014. MCC photo by Dave Klassen

Creative words.
Destructive words.
Loving words.
Words in many languages.
Sacred texts. Christian liturgy.
And millions march in Paris
for Free Speech. Je suis….

Elle n’est plus … She is no longer….
She was just a little girl, maybe 10 years-old
She exploded and she
and twenty others cannot be heard again.
In Monday Market in Maiduguri in Nigeria.

For whom did she speak? What do the Boko Haram want to say?
All we hear are angry shouts and anguished screams…

How do we pray for you, Nigeria? How do we support believers?
– Christians who feel persecuted. Churches burnt, pastors hunted and killed, businesses and houses lost, people scattered, betrayed by neighbours…
– Muslims who feel marginalized. Mosques destroyed. Imams murdered for moderation. Women, children, old people and new converts slaughtered. Politics are western, even if the law is sharia. The world mocks their prophet.

1.5 million people displaced. (What stories suppressed in their souls, unspoken?)

Uttering “Christian” or saying “Muslim” is political. It explains Who I Am.
Belief is not personal faith
It is how I will mark my ballot
for the President of Nigeria
on February 14.
AKA the Day of the Rapture – the End of the World —
For one will WIN and one will LOSE.

And yet …
As in the time of Elijah
A still, small VOICE
Reminds us that there are hundreds, nay thousands, millions
Who have not bowed the knee
To selfishness and fear.
Who refuse to be labelled, and to label themselves.
They seek the peace of the city they now inhabit, even if it is far away from home.

How do we pray for you, Nigeria? How do we support God’s people?

A Christian leader says he has learned to request:
Not that this cup will pass
–Though of course it is wished —
Rather that there will be strength to endure the struggle
To speak the truth to authority
and comfort the distraught.
To surrender to God’s will
and to wait …
for the Day of the Lord.

The following links, while not endorsed by MCC, provide information and analysis of recent events in northeastern Nigeria.
The Atlantic.http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/boko-harams-quiet-destruction-of-northeast-nigeria/384416/
BBC. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30794829?ocid=socialflow_facebook
The Star. http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/01/12/doubts_cast_on_death_toll_in_nigerian_massacre.html
Truthdig. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_message_from_the_dispossessed_20150111

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