A Prayer: Like The Sun

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Dear God,

“We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.” How many times have I prayed this, oh Lord? I cannot count and, frankly, I do not want to. Instead I say it over and over again: “I have not loved you with my whole heart. I have not loved my neighbor as myself.”

You made the sun and it gives life. The bulbs on my windowsill are beginning to emerge. And the sun warms where there is only cold. This weekend I had to work outside for several hours. There was a biting wind but I found relief when I stepped beneath the sun’s rays.

But the sun can also burn and kill. It steals water from desperate tongues in the desert. It scorches skin. Melanoma.

I feel at times like I am as the sun, dear God, mostly in negative ways. I shine on the desert, I pour out my self-absorption and self-devotion, much more than I bring gentle, subtle, and humble relief to those I love who might be shivering in the wind. Where life is needed, where there is need for life to be given, I am more concerned with my own needs. If I were the literally sun I would hide my rays to preserve myself.

Those who struggle to forgive themselves, who struggle to let your grace pour into and through them, they struggle to be a conduit of your grace to others. Help me to forgive myself for the that from which you have also pardoned me. Help me to allow your grace to enter my heart, so that from it, grace might also shine.

You are the Lord of light. Heal me in your light. That I might be a light to others.

Amen.

 

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A Prayer for Easter

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Dearest Lord,

“He is risen!” What amazing words. I hear them every year. “He is risen, indeed!” The pastor says it in her sermon; Facebook updates cheer it into the inter web; church signs shout it to the passerbys in their SUVs and minivans, to commuters with mortgages and teething toddlers.

But do I hear this, Lord? Do I catch these words like a punch to the gut, the way Peter must have? Do I welcome them with the uncertainty of Thomas, hesitancy that turns into unshakeable joy when he learns the news that is too good not to be true? Do I discover it with the faithfulness of those women on that early morn? Grief choked their hearts; fear dripped amongst their tears. And yet, while all else were sleeping or hiding, they came to you, even when there was no hope to be found with you.

And so they were the first to receive that ultimate hope: “He is risen!”

God, I my not hear this words like them. But I ask that you might strengthen me to live in such a way that whispers it every day, calmly, soft and yet strong, so clear that the people of this noisy world who are within earshot can stop and ask the most pertinent of questions: “what does that mean?”

I want my life to ask this question, dear God. I want everything I say, everything I do, to proclaim the mystery and beauty of an empty grave, of a perplexed disciple looking into the throes of death and finding its grip wrenched open and its power forever destroyed.

God, I can write these elaborate prayers all I want. And I can sing and sing and shout with everyone else this morning, before the reception and donuts, followed by a lovely ham dinner and children racing around the yard, looking for Easter eggs and chewing on peeps, which -months from now- will be stale in the cupboards and only good for microwaving. I can celebrate Easter. But can I live the question that follows: “He is risen! …okay, so now what?!!”

It is only by your grace that I hear this proclamation and, I pray, live this question. Help me live it, not only today, but forevermore. 

“He is risen!” My God, what a matchless wonder.

Amen.

A Prayer for Good Friday

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Dearest Lord,

What a dark, dark, day this was, all those years ago. Words cannot capture it.

I am feel as though, oh Lord, that my cynicism isolates me from other believers. I think this is a product of too much life lived within the bubble of Christian education. And I know my cynicism is a cover for a deep, pervading loneliness (“does anyone struggle the way I do?”) and doubt (“am I really one of yours, oh Jesus? Or is all this cynicism indicative of an unalterable pride within me?”). I want to change; I want the faith of a child. But I do not know if this is even possible. There’s that cynicism again.

When I look to Good Friday I -no surprise- snort indignatiously: “‘Good?’ How human of us to look to the cross and say ‘welp! Now we’re free and clear. Alleluia!'” And isolated from your grace I remain.

But then I hear the call, oh Lord: “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” A call of doubt and despair, that evolves around the thought: “are you really gonna pull this off? Why do I call to you and my call carries into the void?!” Your son said this. Your son despaired in the emptiness of your presence. I think this means, I hope this means, that there’s grace for me when I do the same.

So drown my cynical heart in the baptismal waters of your grace. Raise me afresh and renewed. Until then, allow me to rest in the knowledge that your silence is not the void of your grace departed. Help me to trust that the darkest, most cynical heart can still be raised from the grave and into new life.

Thank you for loving me, cynical as I may be. Thank you for loving this world, broken as it may be. Thank you for loving all things, all of the heavens and earth and peoples and tribes, sinful as we may be. 

On a lighter note: my March Madness bracket could use a little bit of your resurrection power. If you don’t mind. I ask because I know that there’s always some to spare, infinite grace and all.

Amen.