Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Was blind, but now I see

"Amazing grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me 
I once was lost but now am found 
was blind, but now I see."

these words of a familiar hymn
speak to me anew today,
especially the last line:
"was blind, but now I see."

The past year 2020 put into focus
just how deep the blindness is.

The quarantine of COVID-19
reveals just how interdependent humans are:
from the contact tracing which showed our webs of connection
to global supply chains for goods,
including the materials to make, distribute, and actually give the vaccine shots
to the experience of isolation, despair, depression
from not being physically together
Fierce independence has always been a lie,
a turning from how you, Lord, made us for community.
May we never forget how much we NEED each other
in order to be fully ourselves.

The videos and images of racial violence
are tempting to shut my eyes against and 
ignore as white men, like me, have done for generations.
Lord, it is a very real temptation every day.
Power and privilege are a murderous undertow in a sea of change.
I continue to pray for new eyes, new ears, new wisdom and new partnerships.
New eyes to really see the violence and systems
that men, like me, benefit from every day.
New ears to hear your call for change, for repentance and for reconcilliation.
New wisdom to know 
how to act out justice, 
how to embody steadfast covenant faithfulness, and 
how to walk humbly.
New partnerships -- holy friendships with those who are different.

The political division, discord, and estrangement
exhibit my country's willingness
to tear the other down in order to win
no matter what destruction, shrapnel, permanent injury, and trauma remain.
Words matter and some wounds do not heal.
Lord, we are blind to who the other is
not an ideology, not an abstraction, not a nonliving political action committee,
but a person, 
a child of God,
someone who is also the object of your affection,
the one you desire,
the one you think is worth your dying for.

we are so blind.

This week
This Holy Week
shine your bright light.
Reveal to us the enormity of our sin.
Give us clarity of vision.
Laser focus our lives
in the sharp resolution of your redemption
so that we may turn from our destructive ways
and become repairs of the breach.

May it be so
in my life and in the life of the world
today and every day.

The above prayer was inspired by the text I received recently from my mother following her laser eye surgery. She wrote, "Laser eye surgery quick and successful. I can see!!!"

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Way of Suffering

"The Via Dolorosa"
The Way of Suffering

photo by Gali Tibbon /AFP/Getty Images

As you make your way,
as we follow you on the way,
you lead us
through pain, betrayal, abandonment,
suffering, false accusations, defamation, 
injustice, whipping, torture,
all the way to the lynching tree.

In your suffering and death,
we witness the worst of our own humanity -
the evil one human does to another human.

I would have hoped
we would have learned to turn from such evil.
Concentration camps were still built.
Lynchings still continue.
Gynocide is still a reality.
Humans still do evil to other humans.
And even more troubling,
the church, your church, 
the embodiment of Jesus Christ on earth
has been complicit
explicitly or silently in all of it.

I wouldn't blame you
if you walked away from it all.
But amazingly you don't.
You keep walking the way of pain;
you keep leading us;
you keep beckoning us to follow you.

Forgive us, Lord.
Redeem us, Lord.
Do not give up on us, Lord.
Transform us, Lord,
so that we will embody your reconciling love
that brings about peace, justice, and well-being.

Make it so today
and in every day of my life.

Monday, March 29, 2021

What a Mess

Mark 11:15-17

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

What a mess, Lord!

The coins rolling everywhere.
Someone's going to have to count those.

Feathers from the doves and
other mess from the doves too
Someone's going to have to clean that up.

Tables and benches everywhere.
Merchandise left unattended.
What a mess.

But that's not the mess you see,
is it?

You see the mess of our worship.
Twisting a time of prayer
into business connections.
Corrupting communion with you
into being seen by others.
Falsifying fellowship with the people of God
into social standing.

Come, Lord Jesus,
and turn the tables again.
Upset the status quo.
Call us back to
being a people of prayer.
Make your sanctuary once again
a house of prayer for all nations.

Make it so!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

He had a plan - Palm Sunday

Mark 11:1-8

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.

7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.

I have always thought
you just foreknew that the colt would be there.
I assumed it was part of 
the omniscience - all-knowing -- of God.

But this year, I have a new thought:
You planned for the colt to be there.
You had sent word ahead
that you were coming and would need an animal.
You had made arrangements.

Makes sense.

In Luke's gospel, you are quoted saying:
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.
Won’t you first sit down
and estimate the cost
to see if you have enough money to complete it?" Luke 14:28
You had a plan.

It even seems your disciples planned ahead,
"others spread branches they had cut in the fields."
I guess I have assumed they just cut from what was at hand.
Now I see, they brought the branches with them
or at least had gathered them along the way intentionally.

This was no spur-of-the-moment parade. 
You had a plan.
The King of peace
riding into Jerusalem
on a donkey colt.
The One coming to depose empire
through peaceful means
and bring about the peace of God
that surpasses understanding.

You had a plan all along.
Now I see it.

Ride on, O King of Peace,
and bring your peace about
in my life and in the life of the world!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

One Year with COVID

written by by Traci Smith, used by permission

A Prayer Marking One Year of Pandemic Life, for All Ages

you are with us all the time. 
All the time you are with us.

Today we remember: 
We remember how things used to be. 
We remember how many things we have gone through. 
We remember things we missed and people we lost.

Today we hope: 
We hope for healing. 
We hope for vaccines. 
We hope for wisdom.

Today we share: 
We share smiles with one another. 
We share our joys and our sorrows. 
We share our dreams for the future.

you are with us, all the time. 
All the time, you are with us. 
Be with us as we remember, hope, and share.