One of my best friends is a pastor in the Washington D.C. metro area. As she was tending to ministry at her church building this Wednesday she became aware of the violence escalating at the capitol building not too many miles away. Her response in this moment was to gather her community in prayer and used her church’s Facebook page to livestream a message. But where to find words when the news renders us speechless?
Admittedly, the Book of Lamentations is one of the less referenced pieces of our bible but the cries of God’s people captured here offer a deep well of honest emotion and authentic longing. Using Eugene Peterson’s paraphrased translation, my friend shared this from the fifth chapter:
“The city gate is empty of wise elders.
Music from the young is heard no more.
All the joy is gone from our hearts.
Our dances have turned into dirges.
The crown of glory has toppled from our head.
Woe! Woe! Would that we’d never sinned!
Because of all this we’re heartsick;
we can’t see through the tears.
On Mount Zion, wrecked and ruined,
jackals pace and prowl.
And yet, God, you’re sovereign still,
your throne intact and eternal.
Bring us back to you, God—we’re ready to come back.
Give us a fresh start.”
This is a prayer for a wounded nation, a frightened electorate, an anxious church. This is an epiphany prayer. We pray that God might bring us back. Back to peace, back to allowing truth and reason to guide us, back to civility and honesty. And we pray for a fresh start. Are you ready? I know I am.
Please join me in keeping Pastor Becca Stelle and all the people of Grace Lutheran Church in your Epiphany prayers this day.
May God’s peace find you this day. -Pastor Peter
Community Prayer: From Richard Rohr
O Great 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. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.