Gardening God, who patiently works in Grace in our lives:
-till our soil;
-pick up the rocks of selfishness and fear;
-plant seeds of hope, mercy, and compassion;
-and harvest from us a crop of service in love.
Jesus, take us to your garden:
-Where suffering with you our sweat drops
–water the hopes and dreams of those in poverty, pain, silence.
-Where dying with you we join the compost heap
–fertilizing the blessings that generations to come will inherit.
-Where rising with you in glory
–We bask in the sunshine of your grace and love.
Spirit, lead us in suffering and glory to follow our Lord, Amen.
Love is the only Torch we carry
By Nathan Decker
O, Virginia… watching the events of this weekend in Charlottesville brought me pain. To see torches again used as beacons of hatred in my lifetime, Lord, have mercy on us. When a group of white nationalists with anti-immigrant beliefs rapes the torch of Lady Liberty, the irony should not be lost. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” has once again been trampled on by members of the Know-Nothing party of the 1800’s. We shouldn’t be afraid of the light. The flame of torches usually represents people coming together. In the past, I have proudly watched the torch represent efforts for peace at the Olympics, hope for new discovery in Education, and the eternal flame of Wisdom guiding us. Shame on us for making it symbol of division and fear!
Much of what transpired this weekend was based in fear and grief. The city of Chartlottesville’s decision to take down a statue ripped off the band-aid on the surgical wound our nation has been dealing with ever since the Constitution told African-Americans they were 3/5 human. Our nation’s history is complex and up for interpretation and retelling. Each generation takes up the momentous task of looking back with guilt and pride in an effort to plow a new path into the future. There are always attempts at shouting the loudest to diminish the voices of others.
As we stand up against the evil of white supremacy, we have to acknowledge the grief that is being expressed. The way history is told in this nation has mostly been from a white perspective as if whites were the only leaders and contributors. In recent years this wrong is being righted. Those who were silenced and oppressed have had the opportunity to add their story to the history of our nation. White nationalists and supremacists see this as diminishing white history. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Adding missing slices to the pie only makes the pie more full and does not require us to make other slices smaller. Yet, this is the fear I see in the eyes of those carrying torches of darkness and yelling hate. They believe they are losing their part of the story.
We can bravely shine brighter than the faces of fear. We can learn to build relationships with those carrying torches of hate so that we might show them light, love, and the Christ who welcomes all tribes and nations together. We can, as friends of mine did in Charlottesville, have peaceful conversations with those with whom we disagree. We can listen to their concerns as well as make our concerns heard. Through the conversations that lead to relationships, we can admit that all lives matter to Christ, we are one nation made up of many, and love shines brighter. Love is the only torch we are called to carry into the dark night of hatred and apathy. We shall overcome by letting peace on earth begin with each of us lifting up love. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.
“Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.”
-Bp. Desmond Tutu
Blessing of Law Enforcement April 2016
You came down to serve, to protect, and to give your life to save another.
You served humanity, showing us love and sharing what we could be when shaped by that love.
You protected the weak, the abused, the outcasts, and those society have given up on – walking with the least and the worst.
You gave your live for the cause of those who didn’t deserve it, and we are eternally grateful for your gift.
Before us now are men and women who seek
to follow you
to serve and protect
and who daily place their lives in danger on behalf of our community.
Bless them, Savior.
Provide mercy and justice in each call they answer.
Protect them with the Armor of God in addition to body armor.
In those moments when quick decisions can change and save lives, Spirit, give that peace and practiced discernment of choosing right over wrong, love to conquer hate, and restrained force to rein in unrestrained behavior.
Lord, these men and women, especially today, endure such judgment and difficulty in completing the work set before them
give them patience, perseverance, and understanding
and let them know your presence in the patrol car, in the dispatch room, in the day and in the night. You are the Lord who said you would always be with us, to the end of the age, Jesus. Amen.
Lord of Blessing and
Redeemer who removes the curse of broken life:
Mark us as your children in the mercy that flows from you.
Brand us with your love that calls us to remembrance and observance.
Protect your flock, provide for their needs, and flood their lives with your presence.
For we desire to be more than believers.
Help us to follow you, Jesus,
so the sick may be healed
so the debt-chained may be freed
so all the world see you in us
Your spirit, Your Mark, Your Love
within and through Your Church. Amen.
We are the Church of God.
And today is the unbabel of our time!
We are the Church for the poor and the rich!
We are the Church for the Native and the Immigrant!
We are the Church for the Boss and the Employee!
We are the Church for Justice, Mercy, and Grace!
We are the Church for the Powerful and the Powerless!
We are the Church for the Fool and the Wise!
We are the Church for Babies Crying and Old Folks Moaning!
We are the Church for Singles, Divorced, and Happily Married!
We are the Church for Straight and Gay!
We are the Church for the Prodigal Son and the Elder Sibling!
We are the Church for Sinners and Saints in the making!
We are the Church for you.
And also you.
We are the Church. The Spirit Blows.
We are the Church. The Spirit Alights.
We are the Church. The Spirit Speaks.
-©2015 Nathan Decker, http://www.worshipswake.wordpress.com