a moment

Our God,

some days weigh so very heavy on the soul—
days of the randomly tragic,
the viciously horrifying—
days with a moment—just one moment
after which, lives go on rent and twisted—
moments after which it’s somehow incomprehensible,
how, after such cataclysmic change, life even goes on.

Such days, maybe,
we drag ourselves into some awareness of Your presence,
and we sit together.

And it may not be until much later
that it dawns on us
that in our stories of You,
You know well
those moments that rend and tear
relationship and time and creation.

It may not be until much later
that it occurs to us
to be grateful
for the silence that is the absence
in Your presence
of reasoned explanation—
of any attempt to justify events—

to be grateful
that we just sit together,
knowing we both know the weight of this day—
the terrible change wrought in that one moment—

knowing that life does go on
without dimensions it should have
or with dimensions it shouldn’t—
that it will never be what it was,

but that it also does go on with You.

And, sometimes, that’s enough.

we live too much afraid

We live too much afraid, our God.
And that’s in no way to say
there’s not a lot of which to be afraid.
There is.
We live in a scary world.
ISIS or ISIL and Ebola are our new foci—
both of which, simply the latest manifestation
of the ever-truths
that there are scary people in the world
and scary things in the world—
neither of which are helpfully addressed
by our scarily short-sighted mentality
of let’s get what we can—all we can—while we can.

Fear restricts us. Fear confines us.
Fear makes us smaller.
Fear makes us live smaller lives.
And those who peddle fear
count on us feeling small
so they can perceive themselves and their agendas
as big.

But here’s the thing—
the thing we remember and proclaim:
You, our God, You made yourself smaller,
to love us into being bigger and living bigger—
into such bigness that there’s no room left for smallness—
no room for fear.

So may we live ever bigger lives.
May we love ever bigger
believing in the goodness of creation
and the love that is Your presence—
the love that casts out fear—shrinks it—
instead of allowing it to shrink us.

This we pray in the name of the one who lived big
and unafraid, full of grace and love. Amen.

more and less

We pray, our God,
for others.
We pray, our God,
for ourselves.
We pray, our God,
for our community and our world.
We pray, our God,
for creation.

We pray for healthier.
We pray for more whole …
and more holy.

We pray for more integrated—
and a greater awareness and celebration
that it’s all integral.

We pray for less pain,
more love;
less injustice,
more grace;
less violence,
more respect;

more interdependence
more mutuality
more responsibilities embraced,
fewer shirked;

less need left wanting,
and more wanting left;

less hunger as physical need,
more hunger as spiritual longing;

less intolerance for what should be ignored,
more intolerance for what shouldn’t be ignored.

And we pray …

in the name of the one
who lived into what we pray for,
amen.

in distinctions of story

The distinctions of story—
my story and your story, his and hers, ours and theirs—
the distinctions of all these stories
blur at the edges—
or would, you know, if stories had edges.
But precisely where you look to see where one person’s story
is distinguished from another person’s story,
the distinctions blur.
As do distinctions within the story of God—
the stories of God,
which blur—
shimmer—
merge,
and God’s particular way of being—with us—
God’s specific way of living and loving,
however hazy,
however indistinct,
emerges.
The shimmering way of God
is not a clarity of direction we see before us,
but what we see in others,
and what others see in us—
merging.
God help us—
emerging.
Indeed.

just breathe

Our God,

The winds blow cooler these days.

In negotiating life together—
in community with each other—
You with us,
we pray for Your Spirit to blow
into our lives
refreshment—
recreation—
renewal.

And we pray in the name of the One
in whose life we still see
Your Spirit moving—
in whose words and deeds and teachings,
we still see Your creative wind
blowing over the surface of what is deep.
We pray
in the name of the One
who breathed You in
and breathed You out—
sustained by You,
manifesting You.
We pray in the name of the One
whose living and loving were indistinguishable
and in whose love we rest our circumstances—
gratefully trusting,

Amen.

we hit “pause”

Our God,

We hit “pause” on our unfolding stories
to share with each other and with You
these particular circumstances—
and even more particularly,
the details of us and others in the midst of them.

So we pray in this moment—
for this moment,
but with some sense
of Your presence
never just of this one moment,
rather always in the unfolding
of time and circumstance and relationship—
ever offering the gifts of love—
the assurance of presence,
the promise of hope,
the possibilities of grace—
dynamic gifts that look beyond any moment
into what’s been
and what is yet to be.

So we are reminded
that You care about now—
about us in this now—
that You are ever with us now,
that You have known us through all our yesterdays,
and that tomorrow is thus more wide open—
less confined—less defined,
and that we can, therefore, be more hopeful.

This we grasp now,
as we can,
gratefully—
in the name of the one
whose moments were all defined by who You are
and so opened into eternity,
amen.

this our cry today

This day, we pray for
our country and its culture—
in which we have armed the people with military hardware
and so want and need the police to have as good
if not better
than what’s out on the street, right?—

a country and culture in which we have
marketed stories of violence
in the service of justice and righteousness,
and yet seem surprised that the ensuing cycle
is one of just violence,
and it is a downward spiral
into the grief and the anger
of mothers and fathers
family and friends
of those swept away.

We have allowed a culture—
participated in shaping a culture—
benefitted from a culture,
in which people of color
are viewed with suspicion and fear—
are pulled over more—
arrested more—
convicted more—
jailed more—
killed more—

in which white privilege,
nothing to defend,
is nonetheless enjoyed—
if often unconsciously—

in which it is us and them—and not us,
in which division and inequality
undermine liberty and justice for all—

with the taken-for-granteds we don’t question,
the assumptions of freedom and opportunity
that form the dream of this country
that are not true—
that are not true
for too many of its citizens.

We are citizens of a country and a culture
in which anger has grown and continues to grow—
a country and a culture in too many ways
essentially incompatible
with Your will on earth as it is in heaven, our God—
with parents teaching children rules not written on any books,
but indelibly in minds, on hearts and souls,
rules indicating some lives here are worth more than others—
some people matter less than others—
a country and a culture in and at which You, our God, weep.

This we confess.

May our repentance, God,
lead us into committed relationships—
into deeper relationships with them
to learn from them
the others who are different—
those who have so much to teach us,
to create a better, stronger us—
undermining fear and anger and inequality and injustice.

For that is Your story—
and ours, if we claim You
with intent and integrity.

This our cry today—
prayed in the name of Jesus,
who lived the tension
inherent to Your word in our world,

amen.