Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Markingsmass

Today marks the 109th birthday of Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-61), Swedish statesman and the second secretary-general of the United Nations (1953-61). After teaching at Stockholm University, he was secretary of the Bank of Sweden (1935) and later its chairman (1941-8). He then served as the Swedish foreign minister (1951-3). Given how matters have deteriorated in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East, it is worth remembering that Hammarskjöld helped to set up the Emergency Force in Sinai and Gaza in 1956 and worked tirelessly for reconciliation in the Middle East. He died in an airplane crash in Rhodesia (Zambia), while on a mission to resolve a crisis in the Congo. He was posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

After his death, a book containing his personal reflections was discovered in his house in New York. It was published as Markings in 1963. The reflections date from 1925, when he was 20 years old. The final entries are from the year of his death. The title in the original Swedish refers to “waymarks,” guideposts or cairns which hikers use to mark their routes. The book thus marks the spiritual journey of this extraordinary individual. It contains poems (many of them in the style of haiku), prayers, quotations, maxims, jottings and other musings. The book has been described as "the noblest self-disclosure of spiritual struggle and triumph, perhaps the greatest testament of personal faith written… in the heat of professional life and amidst the most exacting responsibilities for world peace and order" (Henry P. Van Dusen). In his foreword to Markings, W. H. Auden quotes Hammarskjöld: "In our age, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action."  In his 2013 biography, Hammarskjold: a Life, Roger Lipsey describes the relationship between his subject’s vocation as a peacemaker and his understanding of being a disciple of Jesus as “engaged spirituality.”

For more information, see www.dag-hammarskjold.com 

Earlier this year, an LCMS pastor who is serving in Berkeley, California, sent me a liturgy he has written that makes use of Hammarskjöld’s "markings." The pastor, Robert O’Sullivan, wrote, “After looking at your blog, I thought this would interest you.” It did and still does.

Pr. O’Sullivan has been a part time pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran in Berkeley for twenty years, while also being a high-school English and Social Studies teacher in Oakland most of those years. He completed his undergraduate and theological education in the 1960’s, but found himself working as a radio/tv journalist (in the U.S. and Nigeria), legislative aide in the California Assembly, political consultant, press representative, speech and humor writer, and a researcher/editor at the University of California, Berkeley for the next twenty plus years. In his mid-forties, he decided to become a high-school teacher and soon thereafter BLC called him to be its “bi-vocational pastor.”

According to Pr. O’Sullivan:

Markingsmass brings together Hammarskjöld’s words in dialogue with the liturgy of the Western mass, the basic communion service familiar to Roman Catholics, Episcopalians/Anglicans and Lutherans. Although he did not have words in response to all the basic elements of the mass, those that fit have been placed together here in the usual order in this liturgy. In one case, the Song of Praise is not a traditional Gloria but, we think, clearly praises a One who brings beauty, peace and joy, while calling us to follow Him.

It should be noted that the liturgy, like the book, uses the archaic English terms “thee, thy, thine and thou.” So does Markings, one of whose translators (the one who did not know Swedish!) was the British poet, W.H. Auden, a friend of the diplomat. These archaic English forms, familiar still to those who know King James and Shakespearean English, are akin to the Swedish and German intimate second person familiar, which does not exist in modern English. This usage here is most appropriate, because the diarist, an accomplished linguist who was fluent in four languages, had a fondness for older beautiful expressions (he often had a 1762 Anglican Book of Common Prayer, noted for its elegantly eloquent translation of the Book of Psalms, with him, as well as an archaic French version of St. Thomas a Kempis’ Imitation of Christ). At the time of his death he was working on a translation of Martin Buber’s, I and Thou. The “thou” cognates suggest an intimacy and reverence which cannot be equaled by “you” usages.

Although one of the 20th century’s most prominent Christian mystics, Hammarskjöld had no formal training in theology. His earned degrees were in linguistics, literature, history, economics, and law. His doctorate was in political economics. He was a member of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature. A broadly cultured man, he wrote brilliantly on subjects as diverse as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the needs of the developing world, and hiking in northern Sweden.

He came from a distinguished family, his father having been Prime Minister of Sweden and a key figure in the development of international law. His mother came from a family of clergy and academics. She introduced him to devotional literature, such as The Imitation of Christ, which she gave to him at the time of his confirmation. Even during very hectic days of international crises he took time to reflect upon the Bible and the liturgy, as well as the works of medieval mystics, especially Meister Eckhart and St. Thomas a Kempis. 

The suggested hymns are fittingly Scandinavian or Nordic. “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” is Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” which Beethoven used in his Ninth Symphony, which was performed at Hammarskjöld’s two inaugurations as Secretary General and at his memorial service. 

The Markingsmass may be used on or near September 18, Hammarskjöld’s date of death and the day that many Lutheran churches commemorate his life as a renewer of society, or on July 29, his birthday. This mass could also be used on December 28, Holy Innocents’ Day; Memorial Day; Veterans’ Day; October 24, UN Day; New Year’s Day, or on other appropriate occasions. It can of course be adapted according to the traditions of the assembly using the material.


PRELUDE:  Suggested:  Sibelius, “Finlandia” (contains “Be Still, My Soul” melody)

HYMN: Children of the Heavenly Father

All: The longest journey is the journey inwards.
L: So once again we chose for ourselves - and opened the doors to chaos, the chaos we became whenever God's hand does not rest upon our heads.
C: Whoever has once been under God's hand has lost innocence: only we feel the full explosive force of destruction which is released by a moment's surrender to temptation.
L: But when our attention is directed beyond and above, how strong we are, with the strength of God who is within because God is God. Strong and free because ourselves no longer exist.
C: Almighty...forgive our doubt, our anger, our pride. By Thy mercy, abase us; by Thy strictness, raise us up.

L: Forgiveness is the answer to a child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean. The dream explains why we need to be forgiven, and why we must forgive.
C: In the presence of God, nothing stands between God and us...we are forgiven. But we cannot feel His presence if anything is allowed to stand between ourselves and others. Amen.

L:  We come before Thee, Father
C:  in righteousness and humility 
L:  With Thee, Brother.
C:  in faith and courage
L:  In Thee, Spirit
C:  in stillness.

HYMN: Be Still, My Soul

INTROIT/PSALMODY   (to be developed)

C: Have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon our efforts, that we, before Thee, in love and in faith, righteousness and humility, may follow Thee, with self-denial, steadfastness and courage, and meet Thee in the silence.

L: Thou takest the pen
C: and the lines dance.
L: Thou takest the flute
C: and the notes shimmer.
L: Thou takest the brush
C: and the colors sing.
L: So all things have meaning and beauty in that space, where Thou art.
C: How then, can we hold back anything from Thee?

Affirmations of faith.  (Note:  DH never attempted to write a personal creed, per se, but Markings includes many personal statements of faith, “yeses” to God.  The following are excerpts which can be used as appropriate.  Perhaps they are best read by the worship leader for the reflection of the assembly.)

At some moment I did answer Yes…and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, in self-surrender, had a goal.
As I continued along the Way, I learned, step by step, word by word, that behind every sentence spoken by the hero of the Gospels, stands one man and one man’s experience.
To be free, to be able to stand up and leave everything behind—without looking back.  To say Yes—
To say Yes to life is at one and the same time to say Yes to oneself.  Yes—even to that element in one which is most unwilling to let itself be transformed from a temptation into a strength.
You dare your Yes—and experience a meaning.
You repeat your Yes—and all things acquire a meaning.
When everything has a meaning, how can you live anything but a Yes?
Yes to God: yes to Fate:  yes to yourself.  This reality can wound the soul, but has the power to heal her.
Thine—for Thy will is my destiny,
Dedicated—for my destiny is to be used and used up according to Thy will.
Through me there flashes this vision of a magnetic field in the soul, created in a timeless present by unknown multitudes, living in holy obedience, whose words and actions are a timeless prayer.
—“The Communion of Saints”—and—within it—an eternal life.
For all that has been—Thanks!  To all that shall be—Yes!

Suggested: Traditional creed  (e.g., Apostles’ or Nicene) according to the heritage of assembly.

Isaiah 2:4(b); 11:1-10; 55:8-13; Amos 5:21-24;
Micah 6:8; Revelations 21:1-5; 22:1-3; Matthew 5:3-12

HYMN:     Words: Robert O’Sullivan;    Tune: Wachet Auf 
Wake, Awake, Creation’s groaning,
The children of the world are moaning
Give birth, O mother earth at last! 
Midnight hears the jubilation 
The people of the revelation 
Mid songs of peace and love, at last! 
The travail and the pain
By joy have lost their reign: Alleluia! 
God's children by the Spir't revealed
The spheres with freedom's music pealed.

Wake, Awake, Death's forces scorning -
All hateful rage mocks Easter's morning! 
Reveal yourselves, ye saints, at last!
Fear and hatred's days are numbered
Love, justice are now unencumbered
When peace breaks through in human hearts.
Like mighty flowing streams
Revive historic dreams: Alleluia!
Where lambs will mute the lion's roar 
With songs their Maker to adore.

Wake, Awake, the hungry call us.
The sick, imprison'd, as Christ befall us. 
With hope, ye saints, go forth at last.
Thirsty, naked and the stranger
Need hope and love against all danger. 
You're called to give yourself at last.
Emboldened by his words,
Make plowshares out of swords; Alleluia!
May nations put to end their rage 
And peace endure from age to age.


HYMN: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee  

L: May we be offered to that in the offering which will be offered. 
C: God took the form of humanity in the victim who chose to be sacrificed.
L: Denied any outlet, the heat transmitted the coal into diamonds.
C: Beauty, goodness in the wonder’s here and now became suddenly real.



Thou who art over us,
Thou who art one of us, 
Thou who art also within us,
May all see Thee in us also.
May we prepare the way for Thee,
May we thank Thee for all that should fall to our lot. 
May we also not forget the needs of others.
Keep us in Thy love as Thou wouldst 
that all should be kept in ours.
May everything in our beings be directed to Thy glory 
and may we never despair. 
For we are under Thy hand, 
and in Thee is all power and goodness.
Give us a pure heart - that we may see Thee,
A humble heart - that we may hear Thee,
A heart of love - that we may serve Thee,
A heart of faith - that we may abide in Thee. Amen.

L:   Our Father
C:  Who art in heaven
L:   Hallowed be thy name:
C:  Not mine
L:  Thy Kingdom Come
C:  Not mine
L:  Thy will be done;
C:  Not mine
L:  Give us peace with Thee
C:  Peace with All
L:  Peace with ourselves
C:  And free us from all fear
L:  Lead us not into temptation
C:  But deliver us from evil
L:  Let all that is in us serve Thee.
C:  And thus free us from all fear. 


L:  Beneath the hush a whisper from long ago promising peace of mind and a burden shared
C:  No Peace which is not peace for all
L:  No rest until all has been fulfilled
C:  From injustice – never justice
L:  From justice – never injustice

SUGGESTED MUSIC:  J.S. Bach, Sheep May Safely Graze

You wake from dreams of doom and—for a moment—you know:  beyond all the noise and the gestures, the only real thing, love’s calm unwavering flame in the half-light of an early dawn. 
In a dream I walked with God through the deep places of creation;  past walls that receded and gates that opened, through hall after hall of silence, darkness and refreshment—the dwelling place of souls acquainted with light and warmth—until, around me, was an infinity into which all flowed together and lived anew, like the rings made by raindrops falling upon wide expanses  of calm dark waters.


Suggested:  Communion/Eucharistic celebration according to the tradition of assembly.

L:[Be filled] with the love of Him who knows all, with the patience of Him whose now is eternal, with the righteousness of Him who has never failed, with the humility of Him who has suffered all the possibilities of betrayal. Amen.

L: In our era the road of holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.
C: So shall the world be created each morning anew. Forgiven in Thee, by Thee.
ALL:  Lord—Thine the day—And I the day’s!

HYMN: How Great Thou Art

"God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason." Markings

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