Prayers for the Incomprehensible Ascension 

A dear friend asked what it’s like to be here in Germany now. Another assumed that the news cycle most familiar would be the one that surrounds my physical place but it’s not true. 

We might live in Germany worlds away from our homeland but we have our own little American island in our apartment. We are tossed and turned by a reality we do not inhabit but it is ours. We are wrecked by the Supreme Court and sleepless when guns again erupt in a school in Uvalde, Texas killing more children and hope.

I am finding it hard to hope. The news hit me last night just before I tucked myself into bed. There was no sleep. I tossed and turned in frustrated rage.

And I know that this means that there are pastors attempting to craft worship for Sunday and many of them are wondering what could possibly be said. Is there hope? Can we dare to hope? What is the work we commit to now?

Several wise, faithful ones have offered words of prayer. Maren Tirabassi offered these words this morning. There were other prayers on Facebook from Leah Robberts-Mosser and Philip Hobson. These are the ones that caught my eye along with this candle liturgy by Ruth Marston-Bihl written in 2018 that feels like it could have been written for this Sunday. There are more. Please post them in the comments as you see them for all that don’t have words.

It also reminded me of the words that I wrote for the Living Psalms Project of the United Church of Christ. My riff on Psalm 147 can be here as well as below.

Raise your arms and bring your palms together.
Clap, clap, clap your hands. Make music with your whole body. 
Sway into the power of God’s goodness.
Enter into the rhythm of that selah where there is rest 
from all that worries and burdens us. 

There is so much to weigh us down
that we could get stuck there
but we will choose to sing. 
We will lift our voices and raise our hands.
We will clap our hands and sing praise
in that selah where God meets us. We will be lifted
in song and delight because God is here. 
We will be renewed by song
and remember what we praise
and why. In that selah, we will 
sing praises with a psalm. 
Clap your hands, everyone!

These words all by themselves aren’t enough for this moment. It’s not enough to rest when we are full of rage. And it might be hard as hell right now to sing though I do believe there is something to this what we believe and why but my heart feels more drawn into lament and confession.

A Lamentation
After W.H. Auden

Stop the endless scrolling, the constant refreshing
and the sinking feeling that this has happened again.
Let there be no car stereo bouncing with summer's delight.
Silence it all. Don't clap. Don't sing
because we have let this happen again.
Bring out the 18 small caskets. Let the mourners come. 

Oh, wait. There's one more. There may be another still
as we refresh our browsers with the latest update.
Tie an orange ribbon to every tree. Put on an orange t-shirt 
so that at least our grief is visible. 

These are our children. Every last one of them
and we failed them. They died by our frustration
and doubt that anything could ever change. 
We thought that love would be enough 
but our nation loves guns more than children.

Don't light candles. Snuff them out. 
Tell the sun not to shine because
we have chosen this. We have chosen all of this violence
and it is just as the poet says,
nothing now can ever come to any good.

That’s not what I expected to write but please feel free to use it in your worship this Sunday or anywhere. It is obviously drawing inspiration from Stop All the Clocks from WH Auden. A prayer feels harder to write for me but I’ll attempt one.

Prayer for the Witnesses
Inspired by Acts 1:1-11 and Luke 24:44-53

O God, we stand here watching.
We have witnessed this too many times
and it has happened again. 

For this moment, let us see it.
Let us not stop from looking but
let us feel all of the grief and rage
radiating from Uvalde, Texas.

Let us grieve before we stop looking 
and carry our witness into the need for justice
and truth. Let our witness help us to understand
how we might act. Be with us, O God, in our watching.
Amen.

I pray that we encourage each other and find space for all of the grief of this moment. There is work to be done to end gun violence. For some, that might start today. For others, it might take longer to grieve. May these prayers help your worshipping community sort through all of it.

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