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The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston

The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston is senior pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, NY.

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Presbyterian Church (USA)

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Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, NY

Dr. Scott Black Johnston: Low Sunday

May 02, 2011

The Sunday after Easter has traditionally been called "Low Sunday." After the dramatic events of Holy Week and the trumpeting joy of Easter morning, the title recognizes that we Christians quickly turn the liturgical volume back down.

Yes, it is still the season of Easter, but instead of brass trills heralding the good news, our joy is tempered by stories of the disciples who wait in fear and trembling, wondering what will become of them.

Of course, there are those who quip that this Sunday is called "Low Sunday" because the clergy are simply exhausted after the multiple services and the hoopla that comes with celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

This morning, however, I am contemplating another meaning for the term "Low Sunday." The devastating storms in the American South have literally and figuratively brought many people low.

Last week many of these good folk celebrated Easter. This week they are picking up the pieces - if indeed there are any pieces for them to pick up.

I have heard from my friend, Charlie Durham, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa. Charlie reports that his church is ok, and that while there are many injured, he has not learned of any deaths in his congregation. He said that a sister church, Covenant Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa, was badly damaged. He also reported that Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) teams have arrived and are helping with cleanup efforts, grief counseling and temporary shelters.

I promised Charlie that we would be praying for him and all those hurt by these terrible storms.

I thank God that we are being represented in these devastated places, once again, by the good people of PDA. Two weeks ago we collected money for One Great Hour of Sharing. Monies from those offerings are already being directed toward relief efforts in Alabama, North Carolina and other affected states.

Please keep them all in your prayers as we move together in solidarity in the aftermath of Low Sunday.

Let me close with a poem (that might be a prayer) that another friend, Jon Walton, shared with me.

Daybreak in Alabama

When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama.

-Langston Hughes

[Taken with permission and adapted from "Sharp About Your Prayers," the blog of the Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston, originally posted April 30, 2011]

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