Community Psalm of Lament

Community Psalm of Lament

Omniscient God,
You are the one who sees and knows all—
Yet——this brings little comfort in the moment.
We are in a period of not knowing…
The not knowing is driving us nuts.
The not know if we or a loved one will get sick.
The not knowing what schools will look like.
The not knowing if our jobs will remain.
The not knowing when or if our lives will return to “normal.”

Why God?
The not knowing why. 
Why is this happening?
Why does this continue to happen to us?
Why do we continue to suffer?
Why, God, Why?

Omnipotent God,
Rescue us!
Save us!
Use what we do know to crush our worries and doubts.
Use what we do know to heal the brokenness.
Use what we do know to mend divides.
Use us, O God.
This we pray.

Psalm of Lament

Overwhelmed, drowning, barely able to keep it together,
I cry out,
God, where are you?  Where am I?
I feel the waters covering my head—
I am left gulping for air.

I need you to hear my voice calling you.
I need you to throw me a life preserver.
I need you to rescue me.

I long to be set upon the beach.
I long to be dried with a warm towel.
I long to feel your touch and experience your embrace.

You are closer to me than my breath
You hear my smallest of cries
Your eyes are always upon me.  

I trust that you are here with me.
I believe that you will not allow me to drown.
In this assurance, I can float.

Expected Drama

God of Expected Drama,

Why am I surprised?
or rather,
Why do I act surprised?
Where there are people and systems…
there is ALWAYS drama.

Help me to not contribute to the drama.
Guide me to use the drama
to benefit those who it was created to tear down,
those who are marginalized.

Shine light on those the individuals and systems creating the drama,
so they are spurred to change.

#BmoreTogether: July 23


As I walk onto the Gunpowder bay beach the hot sun beats down on me, instantly burning my pale complexion. At a first glance the small beach seems over crowded, and filled with screaming children. But like anything in life, there was much more than screaming children and scary white women laying in the sweltering sun.  Today was filled with joy, laughter, and sadness as we said goodbye to our Acts4Youth friends. It has only been three days since Second Presbyterian has been working with Acts4Youth, but it feels like I have been friends with these boys for much longer. On Tuesday, the first day of volunteering, SecondPres and Acts4Youth were clearly separated. It is apart of human nature to stay with people we know and trust. It is up to us to make ourselves vulnerable and fight back against mother nature’s blessing, and curse. Now the reason I refer to this as a curse is because it causes us to create barriers; similar to the divide racially and socioeconomically in Baltimore. Over our three days of working with the Acts4Youth boys we were able to sledgehammer the glass barrier we had, staying with people we know and are similar to. Today, in the energizing bay water, SecondPres and the Acts4Youth boys became one, a family. We were all swimming, playing, splashing, and throwing sand at each other together. But the reason we became truly one today, is because we didn’t think and make an effort about who we were interacting with, it was natural. In order to learn and make new friends, and be a somewhat decent human being for this service activity (and it wasn’t as much as a service activity as it was fun) we had to make ourselves vulnerable; in a place of being rejected. But in the end that vulnerability is what made the Acts4Youth and SecondPres kids so close. We can only grow and learn if we put ourselves out there. We may fail a little, or a lot; but the things we gain from trusting each other are far greater than anything else.

Sophie Elisseeff, a youth at Second Presbyterian, is will a high school senior this fall.  She was a co-leader of one of the four groups that worked at Walter P Carter Elementary/Middle School.

#BmoreTogether: July 22


Coming into today I wasn’t too excited to get down and dirty, or bake in the extreme heat, but as much fun as I had Tuesday, I knew it would be fun.

This morning I arrived at Walter P. Carter school I was ready to work! My group, along with another group had the task of weeding, picking up trash, and beautifying the bushes along the parking lot. The task looked extremely difficult considering that the bushes looked like they hadn’t been taken care of in a pretty long time. Although it was hard we ended up getting everything done, and it looked so much better than it did before. I don’t think we would have been able to get it done if it wasn’t for everyone working together as a team and communicating effectively. Each person had their own job that they used to contribute to make everything so much easier for all of us. My whole group from the youngest boys to the oldest helped out doing everything they could. We also had the amazing help from the Baltimore City Public Schools grounds crew, who were so helpful to us in our clean up.

I was astonished today when I found out  that there were 17 only grounds crew for the 180 Baltimore City schools. We were so grateful for their help, compassion, and time they gave us to help. Today I saw a huge difference in the front of the school that made it look so much prettier, and it was all because we worked together as a team. I couldn’t ask for a better experience and opportunity than working with Acts4Youth to make this school a better environment for everybody!

Olivia Risser, a Second Presbyterian youth, is a rising freshman.  She is a co-leader of one of the four teams working this week in Wilson Park (a neighborhood on the east side of Baltimore city).