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Sound the Bamboo
[CCA Hymnal]



Dalit Liberation Sunday

Dalit Liberation Sunday
9th December 2012

Letter from the General Secretary/National Council of Churches India (NCCI)

Break Barriers! Build the World of Equality! 
Dalit Liberation Sunday is celebrated during the Advent season every year. This observance makes us look at the significance of the birth of Jesus Christ afresh. The incarnation of Christ is not some charitable act of condescendence, but a decisive expression of the divine in breaking the divide between God and humanity so that God could identify with humanity, and humanity could experience togetherness with God. Paul says that Christ Jesus, “though he was in the form of God did not equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.” (Phil.2: 6-7) Not only is the divine-human divide obliterated, but even the human-human divide is eradicated as Paul affirms, “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, which is the hostility between us.”(Eph.2:14) In other words, the incarnation has theological-sociological significance.
A spirituality which operates out of theological justification of the sociological status quo can only think of doing charity as an act of condescension. The divisions and barriers remain. They are transcended only temporarily, similar to acts of giving gifts to orphanages and old people’s homes or war truces at Christmas time. Once the Christmas season is over, we are back to our structures, divisions, and barriers. This is an expression of love without justice. However the celebration of Dalit Liberation Sunday calls for a spirituality which operates out of a theological questioning of the sociological status quo. Jesus declares it powerfully in the Nazareth manifesto: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Lk.4:18-19)Here is a spirituality that questions the status quo, that seeks to break all unjust divisions and barriers, and commits itself to bring in a world of love with justice.
May our celebration of Dalit Liberation Sunday lead us to a celebration of love with justice!
Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary, NCCI

“Break the barriers: build the world of equality”

Dalit Liberation Sunday
9th December 2012
‘Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel? says the Lord. Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?’ (Amos 9:7)
‘He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ (Luke 17- 19)
‘So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days.’ (John 4:40) 
The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ (Acts 10: 15)
Barriers that unjustly divide
Heinous discrimination based on casteism, the most complicated social system in the world, has erected barriers between humans instead of creating common places. Discriminating and socially ostracising the Dalits, who are also the equal creations of the Creator God, on the basis of birth could be seen as a real challenge to the entire humanity. Those who are from the ‘dominant caste’, benefit out of this system in India. They want to see the continuity of the system. Even though Dalits are transformed into a people who are aware of the gravity of the marginalisation they face and much more able to resist the marginalisation and atrocities, the situation is not changed to the degree it should be. The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) along with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), want to uphold the Christian spirituality and ethics of equality and equal opportunity for all humankind against the marginalisation and oppression of Dalits.
Liberation from Limitations
Dalit Liberation Sunday, an initiative of the National Council of Churches in India, was later on taken up in a larger form by the National Coordination Committee for Dalit Christian Rights (NCCDC), a joint programme of NCCI and CBCI, aiming at the empowerment of the local congregations for Dalit liberation. Dalit Liberation Sunday is celebrated by the member churches of NCCI and the churches under CBCI in their local congregations across India on the Sunday nearest to the International Human Rights Day (IHRD December 10th) commemorating the importance of it in Indian Dalit struggles. In order to create widespread awareness and muster solidarity campaigns against casteist discrimination, this Sunday is celebrated with a special order of worship, rallies, folk art forms, solidarity fellowship and campaigns.  
Some Ideas for Worship
1. Invocation
Use drum beating for the invocation. The traditional Dalit percussion instruments can be used for this invocation. In front of the church a pot and a broom could be kept eighteen feet away from the front door to denote the heinous untouchability suffered by Dalits. A red carpet or red cloth can be kept between this pot and the front door. Worshippers can start the procession from around fifty or more feet away from the front door and step over the boom and pot and tread over the carpet to enter the church as an act of protest against casteism.
In the forefront of the procession a Dalit girl may carry an open bible. Worshippers can feel free to dance according to the drum beats. A cross, surrounded by a broken chain, which symbolises our God’s solidarity with the struggling people, could be carried by a Dalit boy.

2. Lighting of the lamp
After entering the worship, place the elders of the church may join in lighting an earthen lamp as a symbol of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Call to Worship
Their inhuman atrocities have carved caves
In the rock of my heart,
I must tread this forest with wary steps
Eyes fixed on the changing times
The tables have turned now
Protests spark
Now here
Now there
I have been silent all these days
Listening to the voice of right and wrong
But now I will fan the flames
For human rights.[3]

Come let us praise the God who appoints us over nations to pluck and pull down evil and oppressive structures.
Come let us worship the God who empowers us to destroy and overthrow dehumanizing and subjugating systems.
Come let us rejoice in glorifying the God who builds and plants a society of equal and Just[4], Amen.

Opening Prayer

God of justice and dignity, who broke the yoke of oppression and slavery in the midnight for Israelites, help us to turn our dreams of equality into reality. God of grace who stood with Ruth and Naomi who roamed with empty bellies, grievous and anxious hearts strengthen us in our helplessness to work for those who are pushed to the margins. God of Love, who engaged the Samaritan woman in your ministry, liberates us from oppressive structures and dominant forces that enslave us. In Jesus name we pray Amen.

Opening Hymn: Jesu Jesu fill us with your love

Praise and Thanks giving (responsive reading)

L: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.

All: for God has looked with favour on the lowliness of God’s people
L: for the mighty One has done great things for me and holy is God’s name

All: for the mercy of God is on all who are oppressed, marginalized and in various forms of bondage.

L: God’s mighty arm has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts

All: God has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly

L: God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty

All: God the merciful always remembers the misery of God’s people and rescues and saves Amen. (Song of Mary modified Luke 2:46-54)



Compassionate God you have created us in your image and likeness. You made us all equal but we have distorted the principle of equality on the basis of caste, gender, colour, region and creed. You made sun, moon, earth, water, trees and sky for everyone’s need. But we exploited and abused your creation for our greed and selfish gains. Like Peter we have believed in holy and profane creatures and segregated people and sinned against your creation. We have believed in baseless and illogical myths of Purusa of Rig Veda and practiced Caste system. We are not worthy to be called your children. Oh Lord, you are full of mercy and compassion; forgive us our foolish and unjust ways. You have called us to be partners of transformation, but we have failed to hear the cries of our brothers and sister in bondage of poverty and oppression. God of love and mercy forgive our short comings and transform us by renewing our minds to do your will and what is good and acceptable Amen.         (Roman 12: 2)

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything that is oppressive and hard hearted has passed away. May God our creator who turns darkness into light, who brings us from ignorance to knowledge and from death to life forgive us and make us new creation Amen. (2 Cor. 5: 17).

Intercessory Prayers

Let us pray for the victims of Lakshmipeta village in Srikakulam of Andhra Pradesh where 4 dalits were hanged to death and 30 men and women were severely injured. May God heal their seen and unseen wounds …… Silence

Let us pray for the Ministers, President, Governors, and Judiciary and for all the government officials who are involved in the public administration. May God grant them human heart and wisdom to do the right and just acts ….. Silence

Let us pray for the Church to be a channel to demonstrate God’s love in this world. To achieve equality, justice and dignity to all its members irrespective of their caste, colour, and gender, linguistic back grounds and regional background….. Silence

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayers

Closing Hymn: Help us to accept each other….

Lord’s Prayer in our Mother Tongue

Closing Prayer:
God of Gibeonites, who stood for the helpless, be with us and strengthen us. God of lowly Galileans and Samaritans who empowered the weak and marginalized for your ministry be with us and empower us. God of Dalits/ancestors we thank you for your son Jesus Christ who experienced pain, sufferings, betrayal, neglected and slaughtered like us and shared our pains and became a hope for us to resist violence and break barriers. Help us to be your channels of liberation in this world. In Jesus name we pray Amen.

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done,
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.[5]

[3] (“caves” by Jyoti Lanjewar) Sathianathan Clark, Dalits and Christianity, (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998), 179.
[4] Jer 1: 10 modified

[5] Franciscan Benediction 

posted by communications on Wednesday, November 28, 2012  

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