A Jewish prayer of power and comfort against the
I 40 Crosstown Freeway Project
in Oklahoma City

Catholic Version || Protestant Version

Blessed are you, God of justice and judgment,
who brought our people forth into liberty, delivering us from the hand of the oppressor.

Blessed are you, God who loves the poor, and who gave us commands concerning the justice we owe to the poor.

Blessed are you, God of compassion, who opens our hearts to hear the cry of the widow and the orphan.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who commanded us to defend the lowly and the fatherless and to deliver the afflicted from the hand of the wicked..

See how the wicked attack your holy poor.
They covet their houses and land.
They plot in the darkness to bring ruin upon the neighborhoods
of Walnut Grove and Riverside in Oklahoma City.

Rise up, Lord God, lift up your hands!
Do not forget the afflicted!
Confuse the planners so they make expensive mistakes.
Deny power to the politicians to carry out their schemes.
Take away from them the money they seek to pay for this crime and
give them poverty so they may learn solidarity.

Defend your holy poor from the evil which comes in the broad light of day.
Turn aside the bitter due process cup the State would force upon them.
Scatter the proud, and confound their plans.
Cast down the mighty, and raise up the lowly.
Give strength and voice to all who stand against this evil.

Hear our prayer, O Fountain of Grace,
incline thine ear to us and grant us your peace.

We ourselves will become Elijah the prophet;

We come to turn the hearts of the children to the parents,

and the hearts of parents to the children,

to repair the damage to this city caused by the persecution of the poor,

lest the world be utterly destroyed.

Blessed are you, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive and preserved us and enabled us to reach this season.

May we be agents of love to keep the poor alive and preserve their neighborhoods from destruction. Amen.

Background:

The State of Oklahoma, in league with Oklahoma City and County and the federal government, propose to rebuild several miles of the I 40 crosstown freeway, and relocate it several blocks south. This proposed route severely impacts two desperately poor neighborhoods: Walnut Grove, which is primarily African American, and Riverside, which is the historic heart of the Latino community in Oklahoma City. We know many people in this area, especially in Walnut Grove, and destroying these neighborhoods for this expensive and stoopid freeway reconstruction is an act of wickedness.

If truck traffic was rerouted around downtown Oklahoma City, on two existing multilane highways, there would be no need to rebuild this particular stretch of elevated freeway. Alternatively, it could be reconstructed at its present routing. Destroying these neighborhoods seems easier to the planners and politicians than doing the right thing by these folks.

The local politicians seem to think this is a done deal, but the fact is they only have the money necessary for the first phase, which includes buying the land and destroying the houses. So please join us in prayer that a miracle will happen and this evil will not be carried out in Oklahoma City.

Pass this prayer along to others who may be interested; people who are not Catholic should certainly feel free to adapt it to their personal religious practices or devotions. Thanks for your prayers, it's all we've got at this point, fortunately, it's a known fact that prayer works miracles. And as I often say, "do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

Robert Waldrop

Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City

May 13, 2002

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