30,000 Feet (Lent 31)

From 30,000 feet in the air, you do not look like an image of God. You barely look like the landscape, and the landscape is just a background to the video game of drone warfare. 

From 30,000 feet in the air, your tears are only a poster image to convict my prayers. Tomorrow it will be another’s suffering that reminds me to ask God what can be done before I spend the day doing nothing.

From 30,000 feet in the air, your laughter cannot teach me God’s joy and your hands cannot reach out to me with God’s peace. I have stained glass rituals, long walks in the park, and book groups for that.

From 30,000 feet in the air, your song cannot be heard for its praise or its protest. I can only interpret a war cry across the distortions of power and bias and segregated experience, but I don’t have time to invest in my own translation.

From 30,000 feet in the air, you do not look like an image of God, and my faith is self-righteously safe from the questions you might ask of it.

on Matthew 17:12

A Pastoral Prayer for God

We light a candle for you, O God, and pray for your eternal soul
as you sit helplessly in mourning to see the deaths of your people.

May there be mercy at the final judgment
when they question your unresponsiveness
to the cries of those battered by storms.

We light a candle for you, O God, and offer forgiveness
for your contributions to narcissism and rape culture.

We pray that you find a way to redress the harm
caused by your holy complicity in the power-driven,
hyper-masculine, self-centered, white savior complex.

We light a candle for you, O God, and join you in litany
to name the countless children dead from war’s turmoil.

It will be hard for you to hear their names
— your own flesh and blood and heart —
but we will sit with you in ash & sackcloth.

We light a candle for you, O God, and pray that you’ll find
good news in the streets and camps of protest movements.

May you see new expressions of the gospel in word and deed;
may you have the humility to learn from those who no longer
wait for you to create a new day but march for it themselves.

We light a candle for you, O God, and extend our prayers
for your wrestling and renewal, your hope and salvation.

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cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Sunday Prayer

Ah, LORD God.

From the east and the west, from the north and the south,
from the streets to the fields to the cities to the mountains
we gather:

to praise you
to wonder over you
to rail against you
to plead with you
to find you
to love you
to be loved by you.

What should be found easily
at the core of our hearts & on the tips of our tongues
feels as far away as the heights of heaven:
neighborly compassion
abundant love
gracious understanding
showing up for one another.

What should be found easily
at the core of your heart & on the tip of your tongue
feels as far away as the scattered stars of heaven:
justice for the disenfranchised
comfort for the mourning
healing for the injured
conversion of the contented.

Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been for generations your reputation. Be a present help to the families & friends of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Sandra Bland (arrested one year ago today). Be a balm to the hurting & outcrying cities of Dallas and St. Paul and Baghdad. Be a deliverance from the willfully ignorant, from the hateful, and from the passersby — and an exorcist when they are us. Pity us, O Christ, for we cannot get our act together in order to love one another as you taught.

May you delight in prospering love
where despair threatens to take root.

May the knowledge of your grace
set our feet on paths toward justice.

May the hope laid up for us in heaven
be manifest in protest on earth.

Rise up, O God!
Awake and be who you are,
for the sake of us all. Amen.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

We Never Meant to Love You

Though we pressed our bibles to your hands
and promised you life in the deep chilly river
we never meant to love you
and prayed Christ would forgive you for not
being like us, not even at the threat of death.

Though we survived by your blood and thrived
on your charism and consumed your resources
we never meant to love you
and resented that your resilience outlived us,
defied us, but never saved us from this death.

Though we pledged to embrace your spirit
distinct from its desires & needs & dreams
we never meant to love you
and made of your affections a golden calf
for which we killed faith & preached death.

Though we traveled the world in great hopes
of far becoming near and the strange familiar
we never meant to love you
and now you are too near so let us not risk
familiarity, else we care about your death.

Though we etch in our hearts “God so loved”
and pontificate amply of “brothers & sisters”
we never meant to love you
and build walls of ignorance around our hearts
for fear God might put our worldviews to death.

Though we cling to Your name as our own and
make Your body ours with every crumb & cup
we never meant to love You
and crave only a free ride on Your coattails for
our own self rightness against doubt & death.

Lent 13

Too long, O LORD, too long! Too long have we covered our ears and hidden our eyes and turned our backs on the world’s hunger for a harvest rich with love & universal kinship. Too long have we preferred the slim pickings of “I got mine,” the weeds and walls built against difference, the bitter taste of wars waged in the false name of security. Too long have we fed big mouths that make a spectacle of themselves for profit. Too long have we starved and silenced mouths that would speak truth or disrupt our practiced piety of “keep your head down.” Too long have we willfully believed in “isolated incidents” and shunned those who would make us see otherwise. Too long, O LORD, and now the vultures no longer bother to hide their delight in death as they stroll through marbled halls and circle over the lines we have imagined in the sand. Too long, and now our pretense of shock belies our habitual complicity and our easy tears betray our chosen ignorance. Too long, and those grotesque featherless heads begin to sound reasonable as they proclaim that death’s entrails are good for nutrition, that toxic water will cleanse the body, that the banquet table of greed has room enough for all. Too long, and our lips have forgotten how delightfully sweet your harvest can be when we are kind, how abundantly fruitful your vineyards become when we share without fear, when we plant against evil, when we shovel away all the rot that has fed the vultures and till it as manure into the ground where it belongs for the sake of the harvest. But it has been too long, O LORD, too long, and now the vineyard must be razed before new life can grow. My God, let new life grow.

on Luke 13:8-9