Much has been written this week in response to the violence in Charlottesville, VA in the U.S., commenting on the events of last weekend, and reflecting on it as a moral mirror for us all. Wise bloggers have written about learning from our racist history, the racism in our own families, and the kind of soft racism that we don’t see until later.
With so many thoughtful words to treasure, I found myself longing for a resting place, and a way to renew my strength and hope. If you have a similar hope, our bloggers are offering prayers this week.
With so much to think about, and repent for, Marci Glass find herself praying a prayer of confession in response to the events in Charlottesville. The weekend’s events, she says have made it clear that “our nation is in need of some confession.” In the traditional words of confession, she says, “ We have left undone those things we ought to have done. White Americans have allowed our convenience and comfort to be more important than the work of acknowledging, confronting, and addressing the wounds of racism. We have said the Civil War is over, ancient history. We have proudly claimed to have marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr (or have proudly asserted that we would have, if only we’d been there in the 60s). We celebrated the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. All while the wounds and sins of racism lay festering in our midst.” And, further, “We have done those things which we ought not to have done.”
Moved by a similar hope, Jemma Allen prays for God to soften our hearts, with the words of Ezekiel in mind. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one…” (Ezekiel 36:26 CEB) Her prayer includes: “We pray for relationships in which there is conflict, and pray for God’s grace and wisdom to guide us…Give us, O God, living hearts. Amen.”
Sandpiper’s Thoughts found time for a prayer of praise, praying for God to:
“Inhabit our praise / so that it is worthy.
Sing with us so that our song / is pleasing to you.
Help us to pray, so that our prayers are lifted to your ears.
Inhabit our worship.”
Joining our prayers and our practice together is a holy thread of connection, Kathy Manis Finley writes, recalling another difficult time in her own life. “I will always remember Ethel, one of our deacons and a dear mother-figure for me, who gave me constant encouragement. She would say to me almost weekly, “Tie a knot in the rope and hang on.” One of the times she said that, I was experiencing a particularly difficult time. I responded that what she was calling a rope felt much more like a thread.” Even if it’s a thread, she proclaims, “I can also say with firm certainty that there was always a thread to hold on to, a thread that represented hope…Oh, what a comfort it is to hold on to the thread that never changes, even as everything around us changes constantly. What a comfort it is to find that sacred thread and to hold it tightly through all manner of life tragedy. What a comfort it is to move through change, suffering, loss, the many threatening events of life, and to feel the holy thread in your hands . . . constant, unbreakable, given to us by a compassionate God who always knew that our pathway would be scattered with stumbling stones and ominous boulders.”
“Thanks be to God for the holy thread. Hold it tightly,” she concludes.
May your own prayers and the living practice of your faith give you such a thread in these painful, challenging days. What prayer is holding you up right now? What thread are you grasping? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Rev. Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian church. In these difficult days, the solace found in ice cream has become a little too important to her. She blogs from time to time at Stained Glass in the City.
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