A Benediction for August

Who knew an apocalypse would be so exhausting?

(If you would like to listen to me actually praying this prayer I recorded it for you so you can click here to listen.)

Listen to this prayer


Ancient, almighty, good and kind One: here we are.

Good morning, God. Give me a minute to breathe in and breathe out a few times, here in the embrace of Your silence. What a month it has been. Many of us are here with more exhaustion, sorrow, anger, and resignation than could even begin to name. Who knew an apocalypse would be so exhausting? Would You meet with us in this space, in this place, in this particular moment?

May we be a people who make friends with our righteous anger and steward it well. May we never be afraid of paying attention to that anger, knowing that an invitation from You awaits us in this place. We sense and honour Your anger, God: anger on behalf of the vulnerable, the oppressed, the marginalized, the forgotten. We join with You in that grief.

Jesus, sustain our passion and direct us into life-giving transformation. Sustain us with love and hope, a good night’s sleep and a tomato sun-warm from the garden, with community and collective lament, wisdom from our elders and deliberate counter-intuitive unashamed gratitude.

We yearn for our passion to matter in this world, for our grief to be acknowledged. Really, we know now what it means to pray for your Kin-dom to come.

May we pay attention to our joy, God. Your mischief waits for us at that intersection, we believe - joy and anger - and we are ready to get into some hot water with you.

Would You guide us towards the practice of goodness? Keep us connected and engaged, wise as serpents and innocent as doves even as we co-create justice and peace in this tired beloved tragedy of a world. Would you help us to make room to practice and notice the things that bring us joy, keep us open, heal us, and give us rest. I pray for my friends who are in this space with me: may we each practice rest and joy like the resistance depends on our well-being in body and soul?

We will not despise the days of small things, God. We know You are hiding in plain sight in our right-now lives. Give us a sense of purpose when we phone bank, when we protest, when we vote, when we show up to city council meetings, when we clean washrooms and feed people and prayer-walk our neighbourhoods. Give us bravery for the work of hard conversations with people who have disappointed us. Give us strength to speak truth in love to power.

May we be the ones who do not settle for calling out but be the ones who dare to call others ‘in’ - in to mercy, in to goodness, in to justice, in to repentance, in to hope. Keep room in our hearts for us to be surprised.

Give us courage, Holy One. Courage to engage, courage to stay angry, courage to not turn away to numbness or distraction, courage to love, and the courage to show up for our own lives and for our own moment in history.

We pray for our enemies, Jesus. This is the hardest of hard things you have asked for us to do. But we do: we pray for them. Open their eyes, their hearts. Call the wicked into repentance. Make the story of Zaccheus real to us in some small way: so that we can see the wicked ones turn towards you and then make retribution and reparations for their sin. And when we lack faith for this - I lack faith for this right now, Jesus - help our unbelief.

Keep in your perfect love all of those we have lost this month in particular. Whether their names are known by thousands or they died alone and forgotten by the world, whether they perished from COVID-19 or old age or by police brutality, we know that you know every hair on their head, their true name, and hold them in peace now, in the expanse of love that flows and holds and sustains everything. Hold them for us, Jesus, especially when our arms and our hope feel empty.

Mother God, draw near to those who are grieving. Keep watch with them. We know you are tender with our grief and you mourn with us. God of sorrows, we yearn for the day when all tears are wiped away by your work-hardened thumb.

God, would give us eyes to see You at work in the world even in darkest of nights? Bless the work that we do, we offer our days to our highest ideals and deepest hopes.

As we turn now towards a new month, we do not know what each of these days will hold for us. But we are held by You and that is enough. Would you plant in us a stubborn hope, a never-backing-down, never-giving-up, against-all-good-sense-and-evidence-to-the-contrary hope? We need it. Unfurl that hope in our hearts and our hands, may we plant seeds of that sort of hope into this world. May we believe that we will see the goodness of God in the land of the living still.

We love You, Jesus. And we trust You. You are beautiful to us, your ways are life, abundant life.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

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