The following is a pastoral prayer written and delivered in Sunday worship by my excellent colleague, Rev. Michael Livingston. Michael has a way of capturing the collective yearnings of our hearts in ways that help our community pray together. In these days, when finding the right words for even the most simple conversation is difficult, Michael’s prayer is a masterpiece.
Thank you loving God for welcoming us here and now, to this holy place, to this gathering, empowered by your Holy Spirit, surrounded by the cloud of witnesses whose legacy we inherit, whose promise we seek to honor and fulfill. Thank you God for meeting us here, granting us to live in your grace, to know your mercy, to live together in beloved community, to work for justice in our nation and world.
Our gratitude falls short of your unconditional love for us, but it is enough for us to know you value our sometimes meager effort. Lift our spirits when the hours seem like days, the days months as one horrible action after another casts us deeper into chaos, where in darkness fear awaits; the dark we thought banned by light, the fear we hoped was overcome by love. Beyond shock, we are appalled, angry, praying not to crash then drift into apathy.
We pray for raised voices, unsilenced by executive orders unworthy of obedience.
We pray for marching feet, clever signs, tireless advocacy, strategic organizing, the courage to celebrate and defend our very being, creation in all its beautiful forms on earth.
We pray to be surprised then emboldened by resistance from unlikely sources by growing numbers of people awakened to the beauty of simple facts and awakened to the destabilizing undermining of lies dressed as alternatives to truth that makes us free.
We pray for black history in this too short month—Frederick Douglass among us again in all the glory of his vital struggle—we pray to learn the lessons history teaches in this and every month: black lives matter. We pray to embrace this truth and the change its embrace makes inevitable or be sucked into the black hole where all matter is beyond our reach, where all that matters is lost to the most vulnerable among us, as the wealthy and the powerful claim the earth for themselves and their kind.
We pray to hold to the conviction, to value this truth: there is only one kind, humankind. We pray to you: Holy Mystery, Wholly other, yet incarnate one, friend and brother, Holy Spirit, now and forever…We pray together as Jesus taught: Our father…