A CITY-DWELLERS PRAYER
O God of every time and place,
prevail among us too;
Within the city we love
its promise to renew.
Our people move with downcast eyes,
tight, sullen, and afraid;
Surprise us with your joy divine,
for we would be remade.
O God whose will we can resist,
but cannot overcome,
Forgive our harsh and strident ways,
the harm we have done.
Like Babel’s builders long ago
we raise our lofty towers,
And like them, too, our words divide,
and pride lays waste to our powers.
Behind the masks that we maintain
to shut our sadness in,
There lurks the hope, however dim,
to live once more as (wo)men.
Let wrong embolden us to fight,
and need excite our care;
If not us, who? If not now, when?
If not here, God, then where?
Our forebears stayed their minds on you
in village, farm and plain;
Help us, their crowded, harried kin,
no less your peace to claim.
Give us to know that you do love
each soul that you have made;
That size does not diminish grace,
nor concrete hide your gaze.
Grant us, O God, who labor here
within this throbbing maze,
A forward-looking, saving hope
to galvanize our days,
Let Christ, who loved Jerusalem,
and wept its sins to mourn,
Make just our laws and pure our hearts;
so shall we be reborn!
-Ernest T. Campbell, “Where Cross the Crowded Ways: Prayers of a City Pastor”