I have decided to stick with love… Hate is too great a burden to bear. Martin Luther King
Oh Lord, your house is built with understanding and compassion – it is our quiet center. If only we could grasp its power. In small agitations and overwhelming calamities, during times of lament and great injustices help us to turn toward Love.
We pray for the people of Myanmar as the military coup places tanks in the major cities shutting down free speech and the internet. We see photos of monks wearing surgical masks, silently holding signs. The world is watching as journalists are incarcerated and the State Counselor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi is held incommunicado. We continue to pray for the Rohingya people who have suffered genocide, displacement, and many horrors. Help us to stick with love.
Create in us a yearning for justice as we read and watch and digest the impeachment trial proceedings and their conclusion in the United States this past weekend. Help us to understand the power of our words. We continue to pray for the police officers who defended the US capitol at great cost. Support their families and communities as we continue to discern what happened.
We hear of heightened extrajudicial killings taking place in the Philippines during the pandemic as reported by Human Rights Watch. We pray for our elected leaders around the world.
The U.S.A. news heralds the release of Joe Ligon, 82-years old, sentenced as a juvenile in 1953 at the age of 15 to life imprisonment. “I like to be free,” he said. His attorney worked for his full release without parole after serving 68 years. Lord we ask you to protect those who defend justice. Walk with those who transition from incarceration to community. Sustain those who prepare the way of re-entry with compassion and forethought. Protect our children of color. Help us to dismantle racism and white supremacy that is pervasive in our institutions and world. Open our eyes to the over 2,121,600 men, women and youth imprisoned in the USA – the highest in the world.[i]
Lord you witness families, states and countries divided even as a pandemic ravages and has killed 2,418,543 people[ii] across 192 nations. How much suffering can we endured? We see persons of color, women as essential workers, the impoverished, those with disabilities and the imprisoned carrying a disproportionate burden. We pray especially for the people and healthcare workers of Mexico and Yemen where the death per case diagnosed with COVID-19 ratios are the highest in the world.
Sometimes it feels like we are in this alone, powerless, cowering in some place without direction. In these moments bring your understanding. Forgive us for the things we should have done, might have done, the “if only” we toss about. Help us to consider the times when we remained silent, the places in our heart where we indeed nurtured hatred. Justice is hard work, awkward and sometimes painful. We stray, we recommit, we reconsider, we vow. It does feel like sacrifice. We feel the pressure of time. We ask ourselves how long? Return us to the quiet center that we may discern your will to work among the most vulnerable and those that need our collective voice in the world.
We are glad of heart as the Great Backyard Bird Count took place this past weekend around the world. We observe the ancient great migrations, journeys that transcend borders and boundaries and hemispheres! We take delight in our bird feeders, yet we are witnessing extinctions, habitat destruction, and the attack of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act itself.
As we entered Lent in worship on this past Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of our physical needs our need for heat and electricity, shelter and food, safety and access to rescue services. We are reminded of our vulnerabilities in conflict, pandemic, and climate disruption. And we are so very aware of how much we have lost this past year, given up, or had taken away from us — Lord have mercy. We are also compelled to look at what we cling to needlessly, harbor at great cost and burden. Help us, Dear God, to let go of what is no longer of use to us, to hold close the treasure of one another, and in all things to stick with love.