Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Pastoral Prayer of Lament

How long, O Lord?

As hard as we may try, we cannot escape news of tragedy. We cannot hide from stories of violence, suspicion, discrimination, incitement of one against another. We cannot avoid these events that press against our minds and our hearts, demanding our attention while we wish we could do otherwise. Would that we could unplug every device that delivers this heartbreak to us. Would that we could find respite away from the darkness in our world. Would that we could pray for our ears to be stopped, our eyes to no longer see, our tears to cease flowing, and our memories to be filtered clean.

But the reality of what we’re capable of doing to one another closes in around us. We hear it from Baton Rouge, from Minnesota, from Dallas. We hear it from Istanbul, from Medina, from Baghdad. We hear it from our own communities, and from places closer to us still. And in response, through our sense of despair, hopelessness, and yearning, we muster the only prayer we can: How long, O Lord?

Even in this smallest of utterances we acknowledge you as the source of light and life. We rejoice in your presence, forgiveness, and love which you freely share and to which we desperately cling. We find solace in the courage it provides for us to face another day as Christ’s disciples to bring even a small morsel of peace and relief to our fellow beloved children.

How long, O Lord? We do not know. And yet through Jesus, one answer you provide is through our hands. As we are called to pray, so are we also called to serve. As we lift our petitions and laments to you, so are we also to help answer those of one another. We confess our fear, our hesitation, our prejudices. But so do we seek your promises of strength, of faithfulness, and of new life.

We do not know how long. But we do know you. May that be enough to change how we live, and how we respond to the world's suffering. Amen.