A Letter to My Fellow Exiles

Church Forsaken

Guest preacher Jonathan “Pastah J” Brooks unpacks Jeremiah 29 for us, drawing on lessons gleaned from living and pastoring in the same Chicago neighborhood of Englewood that he grew up in. [Jeremiah 29:4-7]

Our confession was “Morning Poem,” by Mary Oliver, who passed away this week.

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.