Lord, have mercy.
Here we are on Sunday morning, once again unable to gather together. I miss your faces and your voices. I miss singing together. I miss the whole congregation standing to hear God’s word. I miss the moments when the presence of the Holy Spirit is palpable in our sanctuary. I miss when God uses our gathering, even when it has been put together in haste or out of duty rather than delight, to bring healing to our hearts and minds and peace to our soul.
We are, hopefully, going to begin to get together soon. But, today there remains the distressing feeling of helplessness and isolation. That feeling has been amplified this week. I feel helpless in the face of George Floyd’s death. I feel helpless reading articles and watching news. Praying feels inefficient. It feels useless. I feel helpless in the politicization of everything. I feel helpless amidst the division.
We have been reminded this week of the words of Martin Luther King Jr. "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
But, I feel helplessly inadequate to know what to say. Or how to say it. Or whom to say it to.
Lord, have mercy. That is the most fundamental prayer of our faith. Lord, have mercy.
We can say what we know is true.
In view of injustice we can say: We know racism is sin. We know all human life is sacred as all have been created in the image of God. We know injustice breaks God’s heart. We know injustice should break our hearts but too often it does not.
In view of the discord of our current politics we can say: We know all political parties, because they are made up of human beings, are fallible and get many things wrong and all political parties, because of God’s common grace, get some things right. We know only one person has the corner on truth – Jesus of Nazareth. And so we know we should be leery of our own certainty. Our opinions are faulty and corrupt not just the other guys.
Sin infects everything. We know sin should make us angry. It makes God angry. Sin destroys the shalom, the wholeness, the peace that our world was intended to have. This is not the way things are supposed to be. We also know our righteous anger at sin often turns into unrighteous anger towards others. Lord, have mercy.
We know we should be slow to speak and quick to listen. We know God’s kingdom comes in a different way than the kingdoms of this world. We know God’s kingdom has different values than the kingdoms of this world. But, we are also not called to passivity. We are to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. We are to listen to those whose experience is radically different than ours. We are to lament. We are to pray. Even when it feels useless. Even when we can’t even gather in the same room.
Lord, have mercy.
I took much of this week off. This meant I took a break from a lot of social media and news but here are a few links to resources I found this morning.
PCUSA guide for prayer - https://www.presbyterianmission.org/wp-content/uploads/worship-resources.pdf
A prayer for Minneapolis by John Piper - https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-sorrows-of-minneapolis
Thoughts on learning how to listen to the pain of others - https://www.missioalliance.org/george-floyd-empathy-and-making-room-for-the-fire/
I am sure there are many other great resources. But, I also believe it is almost always better to turn off our machines and talk to real human beings. And listen to them. And pray. I will never speak to George Floyd’s family. And I will never speak to the Minneapolis police department. Or the protesters in other cities. But, I can talk with my family today and my neighbors. And with people who have different skin color than I do here in Aberdeen and with the Aberdeen police officers. And I can pray for each of them.
And when we don’t know what to pray we can always begin, Lord, have mercy.