Time Marches On & A Prayer for My Community

Last week, I got a haircut. As we counted out the six weeks to my next appointment, the gal who cuts my hair said, “Let’s see… six weeks… that will be December 23.”

December 23.

I’m sort of still in shock about that, to be honest. And I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m pretty sure I’ve spent a few minutes of every day since then taking a dozen deep breaths in disbelief that the time has sped by so quickly this fall.

It’s been a tough one for me, friends, and for some of my favorite people. Within a single month, some of the folks closest to me experienced heart-breaking loss. And then I experienced heart-breaking loss. And then another friend, even more heartbreaking.

And time just kept marching on, as it does, while I sat on the couch and tried to think coherent thoughts. I haven’t been able to write about how I’ve felt over the last ten weeks, and as a result haven’t written at all, about anything. No journaling, despite my hours spent staring at blank paper. No poems.

And then last week, I was asked to write a prayer for our church service.

One of the things I like about our weekly church service is that the “community prayer” is typically offered by a layperson in our faith community. Because there’s no definition or expectation of what a “community prayer” is supposed to involve, it’s neat to see how different people frame it. Our laypeople include all sorts of folks, too: seminary and college professors, former pastors, businessfolks, public school teachers, poets, painters. The community prayer is always one of my favorite parts of our service.

So there I was last week, not writing. And there came the e-mail, asking me to write.

And not just write, but pray.

Prayer has been difficult, too. Did I mention that? The two go hand-in-hand for me. Always have.

Yesterday, as I prayed in church, I am pretty sure I was praying for myself. But something mysterious seemed to happen, too, because my words became others’ words, others’ prayers. That’s what people told me afterwards.

The thing is, I don’t know how God uses our meager offerings in community to reach beyond our own little worlds. But I do know that it happens. Sometimes.

When we say ‘yes’ even when we don’t want to.

Creator God,
who hovered over the darkness like a mother bird flutters her wings over her nest,
hover over us now and create something from nothing.
From our darkness of sickness, mourning, and disease;
from our worries about our communities and loved ones and finances and futures and the myriad anxieties that cling to us;
from the incomprehensible tragedies of the world that make us wail and tear our clothes and, sometimes, pray:
From even these darknesses, 
create wholeness and healing, peace and rest
this morning, this Sabbath, as we gather together,
that we might look around us and still see your creative handiwork
and know that it is good.
Creator God, have mercy upon us.
 
Redeemer God,
who cried over Jerusalem,
who knelt to wash dusty, unclean feet,
who spit in the dirt when mud was what the blind man needed,
our God who tells stories:
redeem our tears,
our unwillingness to kneel,
our hands caked with our own mud,
our obsession with our own stories, our own problems.
Teach us to be a community who cries together, kneels together, gets dirty together, and tells your story together.
Redeemer God, have mercy upon us.
 
Sustainer God,
who came to comfort,
anticipating the pain of life in this world,
groan for us and with us:
We groan for those in the pews of this faith community and for those on the streets of our physical community.
We groan for both the powerful and the powerless in our country,
for both the warlords and the war victims abroad,
for the invisible network of human traffickers and human slaves who make our lives possible,
and also for those who place themselves in danger to work for peace and justice every day, in every country, in every community.
And today we especially groan for the displaced and the dying
and those who mourn them in the Philippines,
for the aid and aid workers struggling to get where most needed.
Show us how we are most needed.
Sustainer God, teach us to be comforters, to bear one another’s burdens and the world’s burdens from our own safe homes, and to pray without words when the words of this world are simply inadequate.
Creating, Redeeming, Sustaining God, have mercy upon us.
Amen.
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17 comments on “Time Marches On & A Prayer for My Community

  1. Olivia says:

    <3….

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. beautiful and honest. thank you for writing this. thank you for praying this. it’s been a hard and subsequently quiet season over here as well.

  3. Glenna says:

    Elizabeth, I want to thank you for praying Sunday, and from the one doing the asking, I ask people of our church to pray, many times not knowing if praying is something that will come easy for a person at that particular time. Your prayer is beautiful — and sounds as if it was God’s timing. Also, the same sort of thing happened to me regarding hair appointments. At the end of October/first part of November I was given the return appointment in the first week of December. It SCARED me to death. Therefore, I opted to make my appointment the last week of November, just to help my frame of mind.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi, Glenna. I’m glad you asked me to offer our community prayer. Well, now that it is over I am at least! Thanks for all you do in planning our worship services.

      I agree with the decision to schedule in November. Sadly, I didn’t have that option! I suppose I could have postponed until January but I don’t think that would be helpful for my hair situation or my emotional state!

      Thanks for commenting.

  4. Dad (Stephen Sands I) says:

    Great prayer and great post…..you inspire your old dad!

  5. Jessica S. says:

    After reading your prayer, I am grateful you found the words!

  6. Momma (Bonnie) says:

    I love you, darling!!! Beautiful prayer. I will pray it over and over!

  7. Lisa says:

    And sometimes, the words do come. Beautiful, Friend. Love to you and yours!

  8. Gaynel says:

    Elizabeth, thank you. Words cannot express how though I am far removed and unknowing of you; The Lord has used you mightily. I am presently going through a desert, unable to write or sing, a heart sad, but this has helped in giving me the message to keep me holding on. Thank you for your encouragement but most importantly your obedience to Him.

    Much love in Christ ,
    Gaynel

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