There came a time when Greece knew she was done. The lamp that was Rome blew out and was no more. The Holy Roman Empire had its days. Dynasties rise and fall- Jin, Tang, Ming. Shores are sheltered and then breached. The sun did set on the British Empire.
In the waning days, when those with power panicked at the grains slipping through their hands? What did You do, oh Lord? Did You watch, weeping and wrenched? Did You dispatch Jonah after Jonah, who fled again and again? When You cast your holy hand around- was all simply lukewarm, with all passion and abstinence spent and melded?
Photo by Julia (Dunlap) Seymour, December 2005
As the sunsets on empires deepened and the powerful reached out and began to increase the pain, increase the violence, increase the oppression- how did You brace the believers, the seekers, the uprights? Does the Spirit work overtime? Are additional angels dispatched? Is the meeting of the beloved more efficacious in this time?
I am not asking for a friend. I am not even asking on behalf of a country. It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of this prayer. It’s me who sees the fade of an empire and the blood that is sweeping out the end of days of glory that were only ever really for some, never for all. It’s me who stands, impotently grieved, and wants to know: what did You do before, so I know how to look for it now?
The preservation of the faith tells me that You have acted in history. So what will it look like and how will I know? There are fights to fight, spoons to wield, forgiveness to seek, and reparations to be made. When the city on the hill shines its beacon into its own streets, strewn with bodies, there is nothing left but the cross, the community, and compassion, but we haven’t reached this level of acceptance. We aren’t there. We are still fighting as though there was a greatness to be achieved again. What never was, never will be.
If You had lapels, I would grasp them as I shout this prayer. If You were holding my hand, Your fingers would be pinched in my grip. If we were at coffee, I might have chipped the dish, setting the cup down a little too hard.
We need equipping for the last days of an empire. You have done it before. Do it now.
The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com. She contributed to There’s A Woman in the Pulpit.
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