Of all the things it needs, this last week needs prayer. This last week needs prayer, and this next week needs prayer.
These are the words I offered as our pastoral prayer during worship this morning at Community Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kansas City, Missouri.
This past week, Suzanne and I were on vacation together in Colorado. We did our best not to look at our phones or to engage the world much, but it was exceptionally difficult as our phones chimed every day with escalating and terrifying news updates. On one of our days, we hiked a small-easy trail near Conifer, and sat beside the crisp mountain rivers. As I wrote these words, those waters flowed the words of a song back into my heart.
For those not in Kansas City (and even for those in the city), I’ve connected some of the pieces of this prayer via hyperlink to things that occurred in and around the Kansas City Metroplex in the last week. Also, note that it is the practice of our church to conclude the pastoral prayer with the Lord’s Prayer each week.
…and, yes, in case you’re curious…I did sing the first part…so you should too as you read this…
Minister: Christ Be With You.
Congregation: And Also With You.
Minister: Let us pray…
…A deep silence, for our sighs that are too deep for words…
My life flows on,
in endless song,
above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the clear,
though far off hymn
that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heav’n and earth,
how can I keep from singing?
Robert Lowry, “My Life Flows On”
Where do we even start this morning, O God?
The world this week has tried to keep us from singing,
and our hearts come filled with lamentations.
We began our week together with a senseless act of violence,
the death of Officer Gary Michael, Jr.
For his service and life, we offer up our thanksgiving.
And for the man whose brokenness led to Officer Michael’s death,
we grieve for what his life has become.
And even as we grieve this, we lament that even yet in the streets of our cities,
people die by the hands of one another,
that our homicide rates creep higher still.
We pray for the families of those who have died,
and we pray for those who found themselves on the other side of the gun.
And even as we grieve this, we offer up our own anxieties and fears
of a phrase we wish did not exist,
a phrase created to protect ourselves
but ultimately a phrase that could lead us on the path of death.
Our hearts break for a world that seeks fire and fury
before it seeks peace and understanding.
We pray this morning for wisdom to rain down,
for tensions to ease,
for good to face down evil.
And even as we grieve this…our hearts break
for the terror, the horror,
the disgusting acts found in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday.
O God, we decry to you, we condemn and we grieve deeply
the brokenness and the insanity that is
white supremacy and white nationalism.
We mourn the loss of three lives–
Three lives lost in this angry and value-less cause.
There is a picture I keep seeing, O God, of young white women and men,
men who look like me.
I see them holding torches and the flames reflect in their eyes,
and I see something so familiar:
the glint of privilege,
the glint of entitlement,
the flicker of self-hatred,
the flicker of fear.
Extinguish within this moment any notion that seeks to deny the truth
that we are all Your beloved, and
that we are all Your wanted and beloved, and
that we are all Your needed and wanted and beloved,
and that your love is strong enough to heal all brokenness.
Make it our song that we cannot keep from singing,
our song that rises above the chant of “blood and soil,”
make it our song that cries out
Bread and Wine
Body and Blood
Justice and Mercy
Grace and Peace
Death and Resurrection
Love and Love, and LOVE, AND LOVE.
Alpha and Omega,
give us the song of action beyond lamentation in these days.
Because the voices of hatred and indifference in this world are getting louder,
lift our voices, move our hearts, and give us the words to sing,
as you always have, to speak truth to power,
just as you did so long ago when you taught us to pray, saying,
Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.