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Prayers for our Nation for Inauguration and Beyond
After the storming of the Capitol on January 6,
I intended to invite daily prayers for the nation,
at least until the inauguration. Intentions don’t always happen,
but I suspedt that the nation is going to need
prayer for the foreseeable future.
Here is a link to several prayers and readings, but I have been using the Lord’s Prayer, slowly, petition by petition, and I find that it offers balm and direction for challenging political times (and when have times not been politically challenging?!?!). It reminds me that God is God, and that humans must be careful not to conflate God’s will with our will, God with our ideas of God, however noble or petty those ideas might be. It helps me seek God’s will in the unfolding of our national life as we seek justice and healing and reconciliation and genuine peace.
Earth Maker, Pain Bearer, Life Giver
how do you name God?
Where do you know God? What is holy?
who art in heaven,
Where do you locate God--above, below, around, all over?
How is God, in heaven, different from our hopes and fears about God in our daily lives?
hallowed be thy name.
God’s name is holy. When do you invoke God’s name? When do other names, or ideas, seem to draw more of our allegiance?
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
What are your images of God’s kingdom, reign, commonwealth?
What is God’s will? Love? Healing? Obedience? Listening?
What’s the difference between earth and heaven? Between any one nation, the planet, and God the source of all of the above?
Note that Jesus’ first concern was for God’s kingdom, or kin-dom, or reign, or I spent enough time in Massachusetts to like “common-wealth”. So much of his preaching was devoted to helping people recognize God’s Reign on earth, God’s kingdom in and among us. How we treat each other, loving God and our neighbor as ourself, matters profoundly. How do you envision God wanting humans to live with each other and all of creation? What is your hope for the human race in this world, on earth NOW?
Give us this day our daily bread.
What do we need every day? How does God provide?
According to Jesus’ example, we are not just allowed, but encouraged, commanded to demand our food for today. “Our daily bread” is collective, not individual. Who’s part of your “we?” Who isn’t (yet)?
Notice too that it’s food for today, not to store for an uncertain future.
This petition gives permission to pour out your heart, pleading for the food, literal and metaphorical, that will sustain everyone in the nation, all of creation.
Forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
What needs forgiving? Who do you need to forgive; whose forgiveness would you like? In terms of the nation, our lives are inextricably bound up with one another—when one hurts, all hurt and yet we forget that and hurt each other and justify the pain we inflict. Naming sin and then in time forgiving others, forgiving ourselves, receiving God’s forgiveness is central to bringing the nation together. Forgiveness doesn’t mean not holding people, and ourselves, accountable; it means seeking a way forward that has less pain and more grace.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
What is especially tempting to you? What evil lurks, or seems active? What is beyond your control? What threats to our nation do you most fear? Throw all of this on God.
Too often we assume that prayer must not focus on evil, or pain, or oppression. However the Greek is translated, and there is a whole scholarly discussion about that, Jesus knows that humans are tempted and do evil. We need help dealing with the worst parts of ourselves and the worst of what others can do to us. Here’s permission to name everything that causes you to question God’s goodness, or existence, or love, or power, and trust that, as the Quakers say, “way will open.” You are in good company in all your trials and questions and doubts—Jesus knows us!
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.
What are your images of power, kingdom, glory?
When do we conflate our images of kingdom, or national well being, with the nation or use of power or type of glory offered by God?
What other attributes: love, mercy, healing, justice, wholeness, unity, peace, etc . . . belong to God?
What attributes would you most want to characterize our nation?
Christmas Eve Service
December 20, 2020
December 13, 2020
Our patron was a fisherman, brother to simon peter. The tradition shares that jesus was walking along the sea of galilee, and he called andrew and peter to become "Fishers of people." the nets andrew used in the context of making his living serve as a serendipitous metaphor in the inter'net' age of the 21st century.
Poem for Inauguration Day
We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.
But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children.
And how does our garden grow?
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles,
that we can no longer allow.
Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.
All this in the hands of children, eyes already set
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see
what our long gift to them may come to be.
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.
Miller Williams, “Of History and Hope” from
Some Jazz A While: Collected Poems.
(University of Illinois Press, 1999)
found at poetryfoundation.org https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47107/of-history-and-hope