God, you hold our memories of this past year in your capable hands. I imagine you’re weaving the moments that have shaped us into what will be a beautiful quilt, bringing all of the collective grief and the individual sorrow, the small delights and ordinary goodnesses, the moments we were afraid and angry alongside of the moments when we felt joy and contentment, all stitched together with your grace for it all. Wrap us up in the warmth of your love, knowing we are held, beloved, worthy just as we are in this moment.
We have been living in an apocalypse, Jesus, a true unveiling: help us to see clearly ever after this. Help us to name and remember what we have lost, what we have gained, and where we saw you at work in this broken and beloved world. Help us to be gentle with ourselves and with each other, we’re still not done yet. Help us to see the world more clearly and to love each other more particularly.
May we rest in that imaginary quilt of the totality of this year, be held by your grace, your love, your faithfulness, and your tenderness with us. May we always find you in the small ordinary things of our lives. May we always see the world as it is now and always, and love it all the more for the very things that break our hearts.
[We learned a lot about the Corrymeela community in Ireland when Pádraig Ó Tuama was with us last winter. Corrymeela has been posting “Prayers for Community in a Time of Pandemic” that are worth following. This prayer was one that we read together at a recent SSU community meeting]:
God of the scales held in her hands, God of the scales that fell from his eyes: we pray for those who have waited far too long for justice; and for those who have taken far too long to see that systems said to be balanced and blind work for some but not for all. May repentance come quick, not from a fear of being condemned, but in the hope of being set free from the seesaw of us–them, win–lose, and from the blindness of seeing only what we want to be true.
[After a Sunday in which Jesus’ prayer for unity was a part of the lectionary readings, alumna Chelsea Sosiak sent me this prayer by Merton]:
Prayer for Unity
O God, we are one with you.
You have made us one with you.
You have taught us that if we are open to one another,
you dwell in us.
Help us to preserve this openness
and to fight for it with all our hearts.
Help us to realize that there can be no understanding
where there is mutual rejection.
O God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely,
we accept you, and we thank you, and we adore you,
and we love you with our whole being,
because our being is in your being,
our spirit is rooted in your spirit.
Fill us then with love,
and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways,
united in this one spirit which makes you present in the world,
and makes you witness to the ultimate reality that is love.
Love has overcome.
Love is victorious.
– written by Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
[In these early days of the new year, many of us are focused on praying for peace. This morning I received an update from an NGO that I’m involved with (Mennonite Central Committee) that is actively involved in peace work in Iran. They offered this prayer, adapted slightly from Richard Rohr:]
O Great God of Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. Today we pray especially, and deeply, for peace in the Middle East. May leaders be drawn to the table of negotiations and away from the temptation to more missiles. You are hearing us better than we are speaking; we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God. Amen.
That truth has been inscribed into our hearts
and into the heart of every human being,
there to be read and reverenced,
thanks be to you, O God….
Open our senses to wisdom’s inner promptings
that we may give voice to what we hear in our soul
and be changed for the healing of the world,
that we may listen for truth in every living soul
and be changed for the well-being of the world.
-from Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter (John Philip Newell). Click here for full prayer.