Weekly Encouragement: Give us Grace

W.E.B. DuBois, 1868-1963

Weekly Encouragement
“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This past Sunday, a friend of St Paul’s parish honored, through the donation of flowers at the Moses window, the Buffalo Soldiers. They especially honored Mr. Robert Damell, Sexton of St Paul’s for sixteen years, who was a Buffalo Soldier.

When I could not locate any prayers written for, about, or by, Buffalo Soldiers themselves, I looked for something from their time that seemed to speak to their experience. I was led to this prayer by W.E.B. DuBois,”Give Us Grace:”

Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done. Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of men’s mouths, or our own lives. Mighty causes are calling us—the freeing of women, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty—all these and more. But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifices and death. Mercifully grant us, O God, the spirit of Esther, that we say: I will go unto the King and if I perish, I perish. Amen.

The reference to Esther is from the Bible’s book of Esther. She was a Jewish Queen of Persia, who risked her life to save the lives of all her people living in the Persian Empire. Her story is the basis of the Jewish festival of Purim.

W.E.B. DuBois lived from 1868-1963, overlapping the era of the Buffalo Soldiers. This prayer is from a collection of prayers he wrote in the early 1900s, later published as Prayers for Dark People. The prayer may seem dated, in some respects, yet also still relevant to our time.

Check out Chris Graham’s history of, and reflections about, Mr. Damell here.

Think and pray: What grace do I need “to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done?” Think and pray not to hesitate, for any reason, in working for the “mighty causes” which are calling us.

God’s Peace,

The Rev. Bill Queen
Interim Rector
bqueen@stpaulsrva.org