we pray looking out and looking in

Our God,

We pray for unrest expressed in violence this past week
particularly in Nigeria, Thailand, the Ukraine, and Venezuela.

We pray for those upon whom violence is inflicted—
both those upon whom violence returns
(those who have been violent themselves),
and those caught up in events—
in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We pray for those who do not feel they have options other than violence,
and those always willing to exploit violence for their own ends.

We pray for all people treated as means to some end.

And so, looking out, at misery abroad,
we pray also for all the violence of our own culture—
so often masked in outwardly peaceful
political transitions and process,
too often masked in the freedoms we claim and celebrate.
We pray for all the ways in which we too,
treat people as means to ends
in ways both direct and indirect,
explicit and implicit.

We often pray, our God, as those who like to think
we’re mature enough to choose (indeed to have chosen) the right way
without needing clear expectations and rules to keep us on that way—
without needing a community in which to be held accountable
to our own professions of faith.
We often pray as onlookers who see so clearly the wrong elsewhere
while overlooking it completely in our own contexts
(maybe it’s that log in our eyes we can’t see past!).

Make us more mindful, we pray,
of the implications of our living—
ever rippling out
to affect more than we can possibly know—

even people in, this week, let’s say, Nigeria, Thailand,
the Ukraine, and Venezuela.

Make us more mindful, we pray,
in and of those moments when we face the choice
to be more like You or more like our culture.
Give us the wisdom, the strength, the courage
to choose faithfully, hopefully, lovingly,

and claim our part not as observers and critics
of all that’s wrong,
but as participants in recreation

in the name of Jesus
we pray,
amen.

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