This past week the events of Charlottesville, Virginia, have dominated my prayers, my thoughts, and my attention. I admit to feelings of anger, rage, sadness, depression, apathy, immobility and hopelessness. At the same time, I’ve been caring for my 9 month old son who is mobile now and seeing the world for the first time. So my emotional life has been exhausting, watching terrifying videos about the Alt-lite/Alt-right group and then a moment later laughing while saving our cat from my squealing son who just sat on her in delight.
This week isn’t the first time that I’ve thought about how to raise my son in this country; how to raise my white, middle-class son to be conscious, awake, compassionate, and aware. This week, though, I’ve spent hours reading to him from books that are about black people, talking to him about white supremacy and racism and playing with his multi-racial dolls while teaching him to be kind. He’s nine months and not verbal yet so these conversations are more for me and they are of course a drop in the bucket of what I could be doing, but I’m hopeful that over time our family can learn to create a culture that is pushing back on white supremacy.
As this week has unfolded, this weekly worship space has also been on my heart. Every so often I offer a different format, sometimes to address a particular need in the world, sometimes to encourage the exploration of a contemplative or prayerful practice. This week, I encourage each of you to read or listen to the links provided, maybe all of them, maybe only some of them, or maybe only one. You may have already read these articles or watched these videos, but I invite you to do so again in the context of prayer. After each link, passage or prayer, return to the chant “Lord Hear Our Prayer.” Join me in praying for our country and for all those standing up against hate and violence. Join me in praying for our past—the recent past and the far past—and for our future—the future that is the days to come and the future that is the generations to come.
A song of ascents. Of David.
How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.
— Psalm 133, New International Version (NIV)
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
— Matthew 15:10-28, New International Version (NIV)
Articles, Blog Posts, and Statements:
Silence-Waiting Worship: This is a time for you to turn your attention fully inward. The songs and passages and the offered message have prepared you to listen deeply to the Divine. Spend at least 20 minutes in silence listening for that still small voice of God. You may want to join an online waiting worship community. A few links for these can be found below.
When you have come to a place of closure in your waiting worship, continue on to bring your time of worship to a close.
God, search us. Help us to see the ways we have denied the goodness in ourselves and the goodness in others. Teach us to notice where we ourselves are complicit in systems of violence and oppression. Heal us, heal us O Lord.
God, this road to freedom is long. We need trustworthy companions for the journey to freedom. We need people of good will to prioritize the most vulnerable. In this moment, we ask You Lord to protect black lives.
For the wounded in Charlottesville, for the healing in every place, we pray.