A Lenten Pastoral Prayer
Merciful God, what a gift it is to gather here this morning and take a deep breath – to breathe in the newness of your Spirit, to breathe out with a sigh all that needs to be released from our burdened hearts and minds.
The journey is long, O God. No one knows that better than you. At times, the journey is hard -hard like an up-hill hike, hard like an uneven and unkempt path, hard like broken sidewalks under wheels – you know too well the needs of the world that we struggle with daily. You know too well the needs of the world, the pains, the breaches, the broken places – you know too well that violence still pervades our communities, that racism permeates our systems, that privilege promotes injustice. You know too well the ailments of our bodies, how they betray us with disease and dis-ease. Loving God, you know all too well the the burdens that we breathe out, We seek to be healed again by your healing Spirit. Receive these burdens and apply your redeeming love.
And, then let us take a breath again – sipping in the air of your love, drawing into our bodies your hope and grace, refreshing ourselves with the healing and wholeness you desire for us and for the whole world. Let us take a deep breath as we take the next step along the journey with Your Son and may we be refreshed and strengthened for the work of justice, for the work of restoration, for the labor of love that is deepening our relationship with you, O God. May your peace be made known not only in our hearts but throughout the whole world so that all your children throughout your creation may cheerfully sing your praises and pray as your Son has taught us to pray saying: Our Father, who art….
A Pastoral Prayer After Another Violent Week in America
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians reminds us of the Body of Christ. That each one of us is am important member of the body, each part needing the other to operate in the world as a beacon of your hope. But, our body parts are broken, O God. We have succumbed to addiction of power and fear, we have been tripped by the roots of racism and white privilege and we are falling to the ground as bullets pierce our skin and shatter our bones. The brokenness of the world needs Your mending care, O God. The brokenness of the world needs Your healing touch.
We pray this day for the families and friends of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and for all of our Black brothers and sisters who have perished at the hands of racism – Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Gardner, Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown and so many more…too many to name. May their deaths be not in vain, O God, and may their lives not be defined by the ways in which they died but by the gifts you bestowed upon them. We pray for People of Color who have been targeted simply because of the color of their skin by self-righteous mobs, by suspicious shop owners following them in stores, by police officers wielding weapons – that they might find relief from such oppression, that they might not be alone in the pursuit of justice, we pray that they might not lose hope. We pray that those who benefit from the privilege of being White, even those of us who are well-intentioned and angered by blatant racism, may we confess our complicity in the pain that has been and is felt by our brothers and sisters of Color and may we repent of our ways. This morning, especially, O God, we pray desperately that we might all understand that the worth of your children is not dictated by the color of our skin but by our identity of being a Beloved Child of God; that each one of us is created in Your image and that you have called us all Good; that our addiction to violence and domination over one another is something that with your help, we can overcome and that true justice, justice of reconciliation, justice of restoration and not retribution, will prevail.
White Privilege. Racism. Power. Pride. Greed. Fear. Violence. Retribution – these are substances to which our Body is addicted and we need your help, O God, for they are landmines on our path to your Kingdom. Willingly, we have welcomed these substances into our body – and now, we have lost control. Break our addiction to power and fear. Break our addiction to retaliation and retribution. Break our addiction to greed and violence. For those of us who are White, break in us our addiction to privilege – privilege that prevents us from seeing all of your children as equal, as created in Your image; privilege that leads us to believe we have earned our worth, that we deserve more, that we are better than others; privilege that has brought about too much harm due to our blindness, our selfishness, our self-righteousness. For centuries we have held positions of power and as a result, we have begun to believe such power was earned, was a result of our own hard work and we, sitting here today, we turn to You with a need to confess our privilege. Trusting in your grace, we ask you to reveal to us the ways in which we contribute to the pain experienced by the whole Body of Christ and we pray that you might inspire us to meaningfully work towards healing.
The loss of life is too much, O God. Alton, Philando and the police officers in Dallas – Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa – the loss of life is too much. Inspire us, O God, to get out into the world and to speak of your love for all people. When we see or hear racism at work, may we be bold to call it out and name it as evil. When we see or hear acts of retaliation or retribution, may we be bold to call it out and name it as evil and when we do, may we shed light on the redemptive and reconciling love you have for the world.
Our Body is broken, O God. We need Your mending care.
(Pastoral Prayer offered during worship at Western Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC on July 10, 2016)