Sunday Prayer: Solidarity

God all mighty,
this is my sister
carrying the world on her shoulders,
praying for a resting space, a safe & joyous place.

God all gracious,
this is my brother
standing ever in the line of fire,
praying for a loving space, a hopeful & encouraging place.

God ever faithful,
this is my friend
measuring each day with caution,
praying for their family space, a creative & uninhibited place.

God ever good,
this is me
hovering between energy and exhaustion,
praying for bold space, a laughing & community-building place.

Together, we plead and pray
that hope will not disappoint,
that the impossible will indeed find a way,
that mercy will become a harvest of peace,

that such a day will come
when a person will not need to shake dust from their feet
against the city of their sister, their friend, their family.
Until that day, guide us as wise serpents and gentle doves.

God all mighty,
this is my sister: do not forget her prayers.
God all gracious,
this is my brother: do not tune out his cries.

God ever faithful,
this is my friend: answer their sorrow.
God ever good,
this is me: make your face shine again.

Trusting in your steadfast love,
leaning on your faithfulness across generations,
singing the songs of our thanksgiving
while we await your promises;

We say together Amen, amen, and amen.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Dear White Jesus

I cannot sit
at your clean white feet
waiting for the blue skies of eternity
while there is white-induced hell on earth.

I cannot pray
to your sweet white face
or repeat your white savior fairytales
that twist hope with capitalism and manifest destiny.

I cannot preach
of your anemic white justice
that absolves its own habits of white racism
and calls for #alllivesmatter whenever the lamb meets the lion.

Take your wonderbread cubes
and your styrofoam wafers; burn them
on the vineyards still bleeding from native populations.
Call it a picnic and see if white folks come with their children.

Take every last one of your white disciples
whose tongues are glib with love and grace
but slow to utter #BlackLivesMatter for fear of
committing their lives to a payment long past due.

Take your white salvation
that acquits white sin as fast as a white jury
and dances in self-absolution as if it’s the emperor’s clothes.
The world knows you are naked, white Jesus. Don’t blame Eve.

You are dying, white Jesus,
and still you cry, “I know not what I’ve done!”
while your prophets cajole, “You did nothing wrong, you
are white as snow.” But see: your blood drowns the world.

Someone come quickly
and comfort, comfort the white Jesus
who is lonely in stained glass and lifeless in praise bands
because the task of rendering racism sinless is his only purpose.

This time there is no resurrection.
It is finished, and your hallowed red letters
have returned to their dust, along with your integrity
as a cult god. Make friends with Baal and the golden calf.

Trinity Sunday Prayer

Dependent upon the grace of Christ,
certain of the love of God,
committed to fellowship by the Spirit,
we are bold in prayer for Your sake
(and for ours).

Hear, O God, the groan of creation and hear also its song.
Make our lives busy with the work of creation’s healing
until the rivers play again between the mountains and
the stars gather again the curious with their stories.

Like a bird building its nest and guarding its eggs,
O Christ, build up your people like a fortress of mercy
where peace is birthed, nurtured, strengthened and sent
to bless the earth and to love it as the life shared among us.

O Spirit, make us yours, we pray, as only You can:
with food and laughter, through tears and solidarity,
and by the common heartbeat of our thankful songs
make us faithful to one another in every generation.

Dependent upon the grace of Christ,
certain of the love of God,
committed to fellowship by the Spirit,
for Your sake and for ours we ask:

Let goodness dispel evil,
let hope break through despair,
let nurture erase the memory of violence,
and let mystery multiply our dreams with your praise.

In the name of God our Breath,
God our Life, and
God our Wisdom. Amen.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Healing Spiritual Wounds (Book Giveaway)

For those who have been hurt by the Church;

For those trying to hold onto Christian faith in the face of “Christian” hate and rejection and violence;

And, I strongly suggest, for the pastors and church professionals seeking to cultivate safe spaces for hurting Christians who are determined to find healthy faith communities rather than reject Christianity altogether;

For you, I highly recommend Carol Howard Merritt’s Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God after Experiencing a Hurtful Church.

Better yet, I encourage you to win a beautiful hardcover copy of Healing Spiritual Wounds by entering this week’s book giveaway! Simply drop me an email with the subject “Healing Spiritual Wounds” by Sunday, June 4th at 5:00pm eastern for your chance to win!

As I wrote in an earlier book review, every chapter of Healing Spiritual Wounds unpacks theology & sociology & history in order to give readers the permission to name their spiritual wounds and to claim new, grace-filled understandings. Impressively, Carol Howard Merritt does this work without falling into unhelpful categorizations of “conservative” or “liberal” theologies. She names the Church’s harms topically — emotional, physical, financial, spiritual, etc. — and through personal stories acknowledges that harm is caused by the Church across its theological/political spectrum.

As I was pleased to express in my endorsement: “Healing Spiritual Wounds is a gift of candid and caring space for those who have been hurt by the Church, and Carol is a wise and gentle guide through the complex work of spiritual recovery. Welcome to a deeper, healthier faith journey.”

All submitted names will be placed in a hat for a random drawing at 5:00pm eastern on Sunday, June 4th. I’ll contact the winner for a mailing address to send the free copy of Healing Spiritual Wounds. None of the email addresses received as a result of folks entering the book giveaway will be shared, and you won’t receive unsolicited emails from me after the giveaway has ended. Send me an mail to enter the drawing!

Kids and Prayer (Summer Sunday School)

Have you entered your name in this week’s giveaway drawing to win a free copy of the Kids and Prayer DVD? This fun resource, with four kid-friendly episodes about the basics of prayer, is a $50 value for your church or home library to support important conversations about prayer with the young people in your life. Enter to win by sending me an email with the subject “Prayer DVD” by Sunday May 28.

Don’t just enter to win Kids and Prayer for your bookshelf, however. Enter to win and use Kids and Prayer!

For example, perhaps you have the responsibility of crafting a multi-age Sunday School program for this summer, and you’d like to use Kids and Prayer for a program focused on prayer. For a twelve-week Sunday School summer outline, here are ideas for using the theme of each Kids and Prayer episode across three consecutive Sundays:

  1. “What Is Prayer?” Show the first episode, then ask the youngest kids to explain to the oldest youth what prayer is. Have the oldest ones retell the episode’s Bible story to the youngest ones, along with their understanding of how the story relates to prayer. Cut out construction paper hands, glue wiggly eyes on styrofoam balls, paint a portrait of your neighbor’s ear, and talk about how our bodies experience prayer (mindful of ableism): for example, our eyes might not actually see God, but our hearts try to “see”/understand God a little better every time we pray.
  2. Continue with “What Is Prayer?” If your Sunday School classroom has high turnover in its attendance during the summer months, consider playing the first DVD episode again. Play a game of Telephone to demonstrate how poorly we listen to one another, contrasted with how well God hears us. Ask the older youth especially to reflect on the difference between being heard and being answered, so kids of all ages can wonder together about how to believe that God hears them even if an answer isn’t immediate or obvious. Practice prayers of amazement with Psalm 8 — either use Psalm 8 as an example or read it aloud with kids responding “Wow, God” after each line.
  3. Third Sunday of the “What Is Prayer?” theme and episode. Look at the story in Genesis 18:3-5, sing “Kumbayah (Come By Here),” and discuss how we invite God to come and talk about the world with us. How did Abraham prepare a meal for his guests? How would you set a table where God is one of the dinner guests? Practice setting a table, and get creative in table displays, decorative plates, etc. Let everyone say their own prayer at the table.
  4. Fourth Sunday, it’s time for the second Kids and Faith DVD episode, “Why Do We Pray?” Once again, ask the youngest to explain to the oldest youth why we pray after watching the episode, and then have the oldest retell the episode’s Bible story to the youngest, along with their understanding of how the story relates to prayer. Take turns acting out various emotions — happy, sad, grumpy, lonely, excited — and talk about why we might pray to God when we’re in these different moods. Teach a prayer to be memorized or use Writing to God: Kids’ Edition to prompt the group with their own prayers.
  5. Continue with “Why Do We Pray?” Bring newspapers and magazines and ask kids to cut out something they want to pray about — a person or place or event that they want to make sure God is paying attention to. Make a display of the group’s prayer concerns and put it in the church somewhere with the encouragement that others add their own prayers to the display. Don’t be afraid of the hard questions in conversation with kids: What difference does it make that we pray for something that we can’t fix? What if God doesn’t fix it either? Be willing to not settle for easy answers.
  6. One more Sunday on “Why Do We Pray?” Paint rocks in class, teaching and affirming that God is like a rock — reliable across time, strong through change, able to withstand even our hardest questions (I don’t recommend limestone). Affirm the good news of Matthew 10:30-31 — God knows you, God loves you, God cares when you feel like you’re flying confidently like a sparrow and God cares when you’re falling.
  7. On to the third episode of Kids and Prayer, “How Do We Pray?” Ask the youngest to explain to the oldest how we pray, based on what they’ve learned from the DVD, and then have the oldest retell the episode’s Bible story to the youngest. If the weather’s nice and you can go outside easily, take a walk and practice praying along the way: “Thank you, God, for the apartment building!” “Wow, God, look at the ants climbing over one small crumb!” “
  8. Continuing with “How Do We Pray?” break the large group into smaller multi-age groups, with an assignment to each group to write a prayer in a different style: confession, thanksgiving, etc. (Encourage younger ones to generate ideas for the prayer, with older ones assigned to write.) Have the small groups put their prayers on poster board, with decorations and designs that reflect the mood/theme of their prayers. Read the prayers aloud.
  9. With a little advance homework on your part, bring psalms of varying moods for another Sunday of “How Do We Pray?” Work together or in small groups to understand the psalms’ meanings — does the psalm pray about a leader? is the psalmist mad at God or scared of God? etc. — and then take turns acting out the psalms once they’re understood. Ask each actor how they might pray in similar circumstances.
  10. The fourth episode of Kids and Prayer is “Where Do We Pray?” which hints of fun excursions for the final weeks of your summer program. First make sure the DVD episode is understood by all, by asking the youngest to explain to the oldest where we can pray and asking the oldest to retell the episode’s Bible story to the youngest. Wander around your church as a group in search of “pray-able” spaces: the sanctuary? the front door? the kitchen?
  11. As “Where Do We Pray?” continues, take time to retell (briefly) the story of the ancient Israelites wandering from Egypt across the Red Sea to Mount Sinai to the border of the Promised Land to random meandering through the wilderness and back to the Promised Land. A map can help demonstrate your point that the people prayed everywhere they went! Ask kids to draw “maps” (can be loosely interpreted) of all they places they go on an average day and identify which locations are “pray-able” spaces.
  12. To conclude the “Where Do We Pray?” part of your summer series, ask kids if there’s anywhere they can go that God is not. Consider the stories of Elijah who God found in a cave on a mountain … of Jonah who God found hiding (not very well) in a fish & then under a bush … of Peter who tried to hide out beside a campfire after Jesus was arrested. Play a game of hide-and-seek. If you’re not anxious about crumbs, include snacks as part of what’s hidden and needs to be found.

Check out other program ideas I’ve posted on my blog this week, but most of all be sure to enter this week’s drawing for a free copy of the Kids and Prayer DVD! All you need to do is drop me an email with the subject “Prayer DVD” and I’ll put your name in the hat. The drawing will be held at 5:00pm eastern on Sunday, May 28.