Thursday, August 21, 2014

Prayer 577

My parish church of Holy Communion in University City will have a prayer service tonight for Ferguson, Missouri and the pain and unrest that still trouble so many there and around the world.

We lift our prayers to You, O God, in thanksgiving for your marvelous works in our lives. Teach us to open our hearts, that we may love You and each other with a perfect love. Consecrate the works of our hands, that they may build bridges of peace across the issues that divide us. Make us humble enough to listen more than we speak, and wise enough to speak with integrity and compassion. Help us to not turn away from the pain and sorrows of those around us, O Holy One. Hear, O God, the prayers and the cares that have lodged in our hearts, for in your mercy we pray.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Praying with Our Feet: A reflection on the witness of Ferguson on Jonathan Daniels' feast day (Speaking to the Soul)

 (This post was published on Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul today. The link is here:

On the feast day of Jonathan Myrick Daniels-Seminarian, Martyr, and Witness for Civil Rights- we marched for peace and justice in Ferguson, Missouri.

Forty-nine years after Jonathan Daniels was shot in place of Ruby Sales after they were released from jail in Alabama for registering African Americans to vote, we went to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, on the streets of an American suburb by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer. We went into an area that had seen tear-gas and armored personnel carriers on the streets of America aimed at American citizens by American citizens. We went- lay, ordained, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists- to lay claim to peace. We went onto streets that had seen rioting, burning, looting, and terrible bloodshed, but also kindness, cooperation, aid, and ministry.  We went into a community where compassion and hope keep breaking out despite all portrayals of chaos and despair, and to witness to that.

We prayed with our feet for peace and justice, and the right to protest peacefully in the name of righteousness, compassion, and unity. We went not because we shouldn’t be outraged in the face of prejudice and pre-judgment, but because justice needs to be heard over the popping of tear gas canisters and the shattering of shop-windows. We went because we must pluck out the violence, prejudice, hostility, inequality, and mistrust in all our hearts. We went because our silences can oppress as forcefully as our actions.

We came to join with the hundreds of peaceful protesters and residents who are already there. We went because we were asked to be there. We went because we ache for those in mourning, for those in fear, and for those in anger. We went, and we who are Christians were asked to bring our Bibles (and our prayer books) to demonstrate our peaceful intentions. We went to witness, to overcome the pull to look the other way, to move along, to believe that we are not all diminished by injustice to anyone. We went, because when God is in the street, that is where we should be. We went because God is not just in the street, but in the homes and the businesses and the schools and the churches that line those streets.

On what would have been the 75th birthday of Jonathan Daniels, we were still being confronted with the idea that one wrong makes another wrong justified. We went to confront a society that is entertained by scenes of destruction while discounting the very real pain that destruction represents. We went to confront a legacy of segregation and mistrust that is prevalent within our neighborhoods and within our hearts.

We were still being confronted with the fact that in our hearts and our society, bright, tight circles are drawn around “us” versus “them,” and that we simultaneously celebrate that and then decry the fraying of the social fabric that should bind us together in humility, in empathy, and in love.

We went because we know that we all live in the shadowy border between truth and secrecy, between right and wrong, between error and malice, between consequences and justification, between retribution and reconciliation. We went because we are Michael Brown, and we went because we are Darren Wilson. We are the mother crying out for her child, and we are the family hoping their loved one comes home safe each night after attempting to place his or her life on the line for our safety. We went to listen, we went to protest, and we went to pray. We went with the hope that the soft, still voice of peace and justice could be heard over the sounds of destruction and vengeance.

We went to counter the idea that justice should be denied anyone, whether that someone is a teenager walking the street or a policeman whose actions resulted in the death of a person he stopped. We went because justice will break free. We went so that, in the words of the prophet Amos, justice might roll down like waters. Justice, with her companion, Truth, that not only cannot be denied, but that no one should be shielded from. Justice, which can never be confused with retribution. Justice, which must always be tempered by mercy and reconciliation.

On the feast day of Jonathan Daniels, we marched for peace and justice in Ferguson, because we ARE Ferguson, no matter where our houses are. And we must continue to march and pray; we must educate and listen; we must examine our silences as well as our words and actions, until the streets of Ferguson, and every pathway within our hearts, roll down with justice.

Prayer 576: in thanksgiving

We praise You and bless You, O God, Ruler of our hearts, who has brought us safely to this new day. May our prayers ascend like incense and our hopes rise to heaven as birds on the wing. Make us more prone to wonder than to wander, for your way, O God, is the Way of Truth. May we remember your mercy and loving-kindness even in troubled times. You have been with us through the night, and brought joy in the morning. You pour out the balm of your love upon the troubled water: You bid the winds of destruction to cease. You call us to new light and life in our Savior, and give us comfort and peace. Almighty One, Father of All Mercies, Mother of All Compassion: hear our prayers as we lift them to You.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Prayer 575- Inspired by Psalm 121

We continue to pray for Peace and Justice in Ferguson.

(Inspired by Psalm 121)
Let me sit in silence and abide with You, my Savior.
O God, I lift my eyes to You, for You are my heart and my help.
I lay upon my bed at night knowing You watch over me and keep me safe, and I am at peace.
You hear my cries, and know my fears: your hand rests upon my head to bless and protect me.
Evil cannot enfold me, for I rest in the embrace of the Almighty, whose love never sleeps or turns away.
The maker of heaven and earth loves me and tenderly cares for me: who can do me harm?
God watches over me in all my journeys: God sets my feet firmly upon the way of love and compassion.
The God of Peace calls me to the path of righteousness, whose foundation is justice and equality.
The heat of anger and fear may beat down upon me, but my God shades me and shields me, and I am at peace.
Let me raise up the needs of your children, my kindred souls, who put their trust in You.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Prayer 574

Loving God, You are with us always: let us seek always to be with You. 

You bless us and forgive us without limit: may we be heartily sorry for our wrongs, and forgive those who have wronged us. You answer our sins with mercy and welcome us through grace: let us always have mercy and walk in justice with each other. You teach us your truths by the power of your Word and deeds: may our words and actions always give light to your Truth. You love us and comfort us in our despair and our pain: help us to comfort those who mourn and remember their needs. 

Almighty One, lift us above the rising tide of trouble that threatens to overwhelm us, we pray you. Help us to respect the dignity of every creature, man or woman, young or old, rich or poor: set our hearts upon love over hate. Spread the wings of your solace over all who cry out to You, especially those we now name.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Prayer 573

Yours is the night and yours is the day, O God Most High, and we raise our thanksgivings to You with the rising sun. 

Happy are those who act with justice, and always do what is right! We rejoice to do You homage, Lord, for You are the source of all our blessings. Let us preach peace to those far off and near, and live out peace in our own lives. Let us hasten the coming of your kingdom by being used to your glory and honor, loving each other as ourselves. Let us aid the weak, work for the common good, soothe the afflicted, and care for the vulnerable among us. Let us extend the hand of brotherhood to all, and love and live without fear. 

Grant your mercy and blessing to those we now lift up in our prayers.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Prayer 572- for mutual understanding and unity

Bishop Wayne Smith at the march for peace in Ferguson, August 14, 2014.

Prayer for mutual understanding and unity

O God, you led your people out of slavery in Egypt: lead us out of slavery to hatred and suspicion of our brothers and sisters. You guarded your people through plagues and trials: guard us against the plagues of fear, worry, anger, and doubt. You watched over your people as the Angel of Death passed over them: help us to pass over our divisions, to unity in worshiping and serving You, Almighty One. Dry the bitter tears and grant that peace that passes all understanding to these beloved children of God for whom we pray.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Prayer 571- For witness

Marching for justice and peace in Ferguson, MO, August 14, 2014.

Loving one, we rejoice in thy manifold blessings upon us, and give You praise and homage. 

Lead us, O Mighty God, in the paths You would have us go. Give us eyes to see the way even when light is dimmed or brambles catch at our heels. Keep our feet upon the paths of righteousness, illuminated always by your loving-kindness and mercy. Carry us upon your shoulders, O Shepherd, when our strength flags, and let your love encourage us to set out anew. 

Unite us in our common bond as your children, bearing each other's sorrows and celebrating each other's joys. By the miracle of your grace, we lift up those whose needs we cradle within our hearts.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Prayer 570

Reflections on chapel altar, Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion

O God, you tenderly hold our souls in your hand: hear our prayer. Teach us, O God, to act so that we are a blessing to others. Bring forth in us perfect love, in which we see all life as connected and mutually dependent. Make us more prone to wonder than to wander, grounding us in your Wisdom and uplifted by grace. Cradle us to you in our pain, despair, or fear, and brush away the tears of those who mourn, O Loving One. Open our eyes to the blessings we have even in the midst of trouble. Help us hold fast to your hand as little children, trusting always that You are with us. Hear the sighs of your beloveds, and send your Spirit to comfort and bear up those we now name.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Prayer 569

Tea, incense, candle, morning prayer. Ah, retirement!

The insects and the birds tell out the wonder of the Lord: may our prayer ascend on the morning breeze. Anchor us within your mercy, O Holy One, for we are foolish and prone to wander. Give us humble hearts and generous spirits, that we may serve our neighbors and build your kingdom of justice and peace. Let us always remember your compassion when we consider those who have wronged us. Give us a thirst for your Word, O Creator, and a zeal for your house. Send us forth from our prayers to honor and glorify your Holy Name, more beautiful than a thousand sunrises. Extend the shelter of your solace and blessing upon those who seek your face.