The Orthodox Fellowship of St. Moses the Black

Dear Farris,

Thank you for your words about Black Christianity, and your deep concern about the wounds from the bitter experience of slavery in our land that have yet to be healed, and which continue to impede racial reconciliation here.

I think my most helpful contribution to the ongoing discussion might be to share a prayer service concerning that experience from the treasures of Orthodox hymnography.  This service, following the traditional form of hymnological poetical-prayer known as the Akathist Hymn, was composed fairly recently by an interracial fellowship, comprised of clergy, male and female monastics, and laity, within the Orthodox Church in America known as the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black (http://mosestheblack.org).

Here’s how this service begins:

Akathist to the Merciful Savior,

Healer of the Wounds of American Slavery

O Lord, Who didst will to be sold as a slave for thirty pieces of silver in Thy plan for the redemption of all the sons of Noah, thus removing the shame of the African sold into bondage in the American lands, trusting in Thy boundless compassion we cry out to Thee:

“Remember, O Merciful Savior, the souls of those who died in bitter bondage,

And hear the intercessions of Thine American Saints both known and unknown.”

The Angels were struck with dismay on seeing slave ships pull up to the shores of Africa, that mighty land that had fed the Hebrew children in days of old.  She nourished them through lean years of famine, collecting their tears and sweat when cruel taskmasters were put over them; nevertheless, they multiplied and waxed strong.  Heaven wept seeing pillagers from afar docked off the shores of Africa, that mighty land that had held the infant Savior in her sanctified embrace.  She protected Him from the murderous King Herod, who in his mad jealousy foamed a the thought of a rival king.  Heaven wept seeing pillagers hold council with man-stealing tribesmen, evilly agreeing on the price of human flesh while villages and families were rent apart.  Lamentation and bitter weeping were heard, as in Ramah in days of old.

“Remember, O Merciful Savior, the souls of those who died in bitter bondage,

And hear the intercessions of Thine American Saints both known and unknown.”

And here’s the link to the entire service:

http://mosestheblack.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/AkathistForHealingSlavery-FSMB.pdf

May this heartfelt communal cry to our Long-Suffering Lord Jesus, the One Who endured and bore all human suffering to the end, bring consolation, strength, and renewed resolve for many to keep working and praying for interracial healing and harmony in our land!

Yours, in Christ,

David Ford

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