Holy Saturday: Pausing for Grief

God, what was it like to take the Holy Pause of Saturday? Did you practice Sabbath while Jesus, your only son, had died?

Did you sit in a comfortable corner and let yourself cry?

Did you practice breathing, slowly, in and out, trying to find ways to regulate once again?

Did you embrace despondency?

Did it feel like the world had stopped? Did you feel slammed by the bad news–even though you knew it was coming? Did you have to sit for a minute to take in the fullness of its meaning?

Did you simply, actually, pause the world for a few so you could keep your rainbow promises?

Did you feel frustrated that after all you had done, and tried, that Jesus died anyway?

Did you take comfort in sitting with the disciples and Mary, and Mary and Martha as they moaned?

Did you make yourself useful, keeping busy helping all the humans who were in pain, so you could better process your own?

Did you just sleep all day, and try to forget the world existed?

Lord God, I have a sneaking suspicion that Saturday is Holy because it legitimizes our pain, our loss, our anger at injustices, our impatience with the waiting for peace, our heartbrokenness with the state of the world, our feeling of helplessness to be of help to anyone or anything.

And yet, You give us permission to take the time to sit with the pain. You give us the space we need to do absolutely nothing (at first) in response to the evil in the world. You do not barge in with good news or toxic positivity. You let resurrection sneak into our hearts, little by little.

Thank you God for this time and space.

Thank you for being a God who fully experiences the range of emotions and reactions we have.

Thank you for being our God and sitting with us.

Let us sit together a little longer………………………………

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Friday isn’t Good

God, I’m raging today against good Friday. Its bad Friday, it’s mistaken Friday, its very, very human Friday.

We humans should never equate abuse and violence with good. Because too often we malign those who are different than us for “good.” Too often we consider police violence “for the greater good.” Too often we glorify those who have weapons as “good guys” and end up glorifying them for Good.

Did you have to die on the Cross God? Probably, because we humans could only see the “good” of violence. Only humans would think Emmet Till dying was worthwhile because it helped to spur the civil rights movement. *

Only humans consider martyrdom something to strive for (how did we even get there, ew!).

We are not a death cult, God, we do not want to make the long count to forty lashes, and we Christians should be the first in line to be against the death penalty, realizing that it is inhumane for us to kill one another.

We should be creating community and stopping abuse at all levels. And I must confess, sometimes we are too scared, or too nice to name and cast out evil.

God, I don’t think Friday will be Good for me, anymore.

Not after a pandemic where so many have died for the “good” of the economy.

Not after a summer where death after death of Black People resulted in a lot of noise, and little change.

Not in a culture where the first thing we experience after reopening is racist attacks and has shootings of AAPI siblings and mass shootings ing general.

Lord, no, Friday isn’t good.

But I’m glad you transformed it. I’m glad you could withstand it. I’m glad your beyond it.

And I hope that someday, violence will no longer be allowed or celebrated, or deemed as necessary for the good.

I hope the sun goes down on this Good Friday, God I hope it ends soon.

And I pray that we let the resurrection sneak up on us, that we can still hear its whispers and that we can, even in the midst of Friday, follow where it leads.

Lord hear my prayer, as I stand, living in the midst of a this terrible, horrible, no good very bad Friday time.

Amen.

*With Credit and Thanks for Rev. Lenny Duncan who challenged if Jesus or black bodies should have to die for us humans to “get it” or be “woke” or to spur us into action.

Feel free to use and adapt with writing credit to Pastor Katy Stenta and theology credit to Rev. Lenny Duncan.

Washing the Dust

Jesus, how beautiful is it that you chose to spend some remaining moments reminding the disciples that they can help each other wash off the dust.

Lord you know, sometimes I’ve tried to shake the dust off my feet, but it is stuck tight. It stains my sole. It stains my soul.

And I know how to wash my own feet. But sometimes i don’t have the energy, to get the water, to bend over, to do the self care.

Sometimes I don’t have the energy to wash.

And there you are–towel in hand, gently taking my feet and dipping them in the water.

You wash away the ashes. You remind me that when I’m having trouble, I can ask for help.

You remind us that we are not alone.

That we should love one another, care for one another, help one another.

So while the ashes of two more mass shootings, racist attacks, abusive trans legislation, and continue news of those who don’t yet have access to vaccines, and over 500,000 siblings who needlessly died.

You lather the soap, and pour the water, and prepare a fresh towel. Even while we are on the dusty road to Jerusalem, which ends in the cross, you make provision for us.

You teach us how to comfort one another on the journey.

And For that I give you Thanks and Praise.

Please fee free to use/adapt with Credit to Pastor Kay Stenta

No Excuses God

What kind of God are you, if you can’t handle my bad days God?

I am so glad that I can safely tell yell to you and at you and know that I am still beloved.

I am glad that you sit with me on my pain and loneliness and tell me it’s ok to be lonely.

I’m glad that you have made sacred the screaming Psalms of pain. We don’t need a reason or excuses, because you are a no excuses God.

I am sad by the people who feel they have to hide their pain, their anger, their frailities from God.

I am deeply wounded that time and again we humans hurt each other and ourselves in pursuit of impossible purity and perfection.

I rage with the anger of a thousand suns when bad behavior is blamed on other people, mental illness or “having a bad day.”

I am mystified, but not really, when young black women, disabled individuals, immigrants and Black People are beaten or killed during arrest but racist white cis mass murders are restrained unharmed.

When are we White people going to start flipping the tables on racism?

No excuses.

When will our pain convict us enough to chop down the tree of racism, condemning it—Strange fruit and all—to the fire?

Lord, I’m so glad you are the God that denounces evil. Help us to denounce evil!

Help us to let go of our whining and excuses.

Give us the fortitude to stop trimming the tree of racism here and there, willy-nilly—and instead go for the roots: the racial fetishes, the micro aggressions, the stereotyping. God let us no longer let the stereotyping, the jokes, the devaluing of non white people to continue. Help us to STOP it.

Rotten Tree Stump The Tree Was Cut Down And Revealed Its, Rotten Tree Stump  - Albert

God I’m glad I can tell and scream these things when I have a bad day.

RACISM KILLS! WE ARE STILL TANGLED AND COMPLICIT!

And I’m glad you are a God who says to carry the cross, to love my neighbor, turn the other cheek. All to illustrate that you do NOT condone abuse, violence or murder; no matter how we try to rationalize it.

You are a No excuses God! Thank God!

God we’ve had a bad day. Help us to decide that we never want a day like this to happen again. Help us to flip the tables of injustice and to root out evil.

You hold out forgiveness to love us all the way back to how and why we should treat one another humanely.

God hear our cry, help us to break out of our systems of White Supremacy we pray.

Amen

White Work: a Prayer after (continued) Racist Violence for the Asian Community

God teach me how to take the target off of my Asian neighbor’s back.

I am torn by grief that the stereotypes and the racial violence continues.

God help me to fight against the idea of a model minority.

Help me to interrupt, to disrupt, to work against any and all micro-aggressions. Strengthen my resolve and spark my curiosity so I never stop learning about how they creep into my perception of the world.

Do not let any of us call a horrific pandemic the China or Kung Fu virus. For it is racist and wrong. It is evil, let us denounce it as so.

Help me to confront, and not dwell in shame or embarrassment, so I can address when I participate–in the Asians are smart-compliant-good-at-math-“Asian”-stereotypes.

And be with those communities that have received injuries or death in the United States. Help those who are Asian–whichever of the more than a dozen countries that means–find community and connection. Help those who are citizens and those who are not to get the help they need I pray.

Give them sanctuary.

Help us to be more of a sanctuary. Help us not to proclaim ourselves as “safe” but instead teach us how to actually be and enact safety and hospitality.

God I know there’s a target on my Asian neighbor’s back and it makes me want to weep and rage. Teach me how to stop this targeting, I pray.

Show me how each individual is uniquely and beautifully made in your image.

And help me to do the White work I need to do.

In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Amen.

Please feel free to use/share credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

The Last Mile Prayer

God what is it about the last 15 minutes of a trip, that causes incessant squabbling? Doesn’t seem to matter if the trip is 1 hour or 15 hours, the last miles are the worst.

What is about seeing the top of the Mountain, that makes me think, well I almost did it, maybe it counts and I can turn around and go back down?

Or sometimes, when I’ve almost reached the place that I am going, I take a wrong turn. And it feels so unfair, not to mention embarrassing, to make a mistake when I am this close to the end.

And, I know that after every event is over, I feel exhilarated and happy, but then, somehow, there is still clean up to be done.

God, I know we are coming to the last miles of the crises. I so, so, so wish that this is like the perfect bicycle ride where we can glide downhill from here.

But experiences has taught me that finishing things can be at least as hard, if not harder than starting them.

Only you know God, how much I really am out of breath, and tired, and so you understand that I am not really looking forward to the work after the crises.

Because I know there are changes that need to be made, and that we can’t give up now!

Is this how Moses felt as he and the Hebrew people came towards the end of the journey through the desert? Was he somewhat grateful to leave the final steps and close up to someone else?

Is this how Mary and Martha felt as–I assumed they were stuck with– cleaning up after the Last Supper? The feeling that things are almost over, but somehow not.

Is this how Noah and his wife and children felt when the floods had receded and the real work of rebuilding the house, the family and replanting all of the food began? The knowledge that survival is not enough, now they had to build things better than the first time so that this type of apocalypse would never happen again?

God, I know we aren’t done yet. There are many obstacles in the way, and there is much to be done.

Strengthen us as we work towards this new world.

Inspire us as we try to figure out how to rebuild

….and soften us, help us to unclench our jaws, remind us to continue the hard work of breathing in and out

and give us the ability to be vulnerable with one another as we enter into a time where compassion must continue and openheartedness will be valuable in leading us the right direction.

Sustain us with your Holy Spirit we pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen

Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

More Pandemic Resources here

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Trauma Prayer

Here is a prayer for the survivors, who were left by those who got sick and died.

A prayer for the workers who were deemed essential–and never got a break from the work, the breath, the spit, the talk, the-show-up-to-get-your-paycheck.

It’s a plea for those who were “let go” told that they weren’t important enough to keep getting paid.

It’s a recycled prayer for the homeless and the hungry, who are the same as ever, only worse.

A love note for the queer fam, whose barriers only increase when people become stressed.

Here’s a prayer for the black and brown people the Native Americans, the Asians, the Immigrants…the ignored, habitually mistreated and forgotten. The “inaccessible” for healthcare, the ones who always have to sit on the bottom, except for deaths in the pandemic where they ride high.

Here’s a chant for Black Lives Matter–words that start, but don’t do enough to create a structure for reparations.

Here’s a prayer for the abused, alone and trapped.

A prayer for the addict, who is living the days, and the nights trying to figure out treatment in tough times.

This is a cry for the lonely: the elderly, the singles, the disabled, the sick. Lord, you know there are too many ways for us to feel lonely in ordinary times. Here’s an extra cry for them.

Here’s a prayer for a moment–for all those who are caretaking or parenting, those who have had not respite and no relief, for whom the to do list has lengthened and the how to list no longer exists.

This is a prayer for the children, who know in their bones what they are missing, even when they don’t know what they are missing.

We are praying for all of the world together–because this is our traumaversary–a moment when we look at the world that has ended, and has not yet a world to look towards.

We have to relive the trauma of the loss, and we still haven’t learned how to Cope with it Lord.

This is a prayer for me Lord,

Because I’m tired and lonely, and I don’t even know if I’m hungry or bored or just dealing with depression. This is a prayer for my family, because “okay” is all we can go for right now.

This is a prayer for the traumatized. Help us, we pray, Save us, we pray.

Amen.

Feel free to share/use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Trauma Anniversary Info: https://www.mentalhelp.net/ptsd/anniversary-reactions-to-a-traumatic-event/

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

#BreakBlessBuild prayer (inspired by #NextChurch)

Lord, we confess we are Breaking. Shards of our personality lie upon the floor, mixed with the pieces of relationships we are trying to pick up and maintain.

It’s hard to see what parts of me are missing, because everything is so messy. I’m a mess, my house is a mess, and what is time in this mess anyway?

And we want to build so fast, God, but we don’t know the landscape yet.

How many things have to break before we start to rebuild? So far we’ve lost a dishwasher, an oven, an HVAC system, 3 phones, 2 tablets and a computer.

And they are nothing compared to the families we have broken, the healthcare system that is broken, the minimum wage is broken, education is broken, and whiteness breaks everything else along the way.

Is this how your people felt, when they lost their Temple?

Is this how Mary felt when she broke the perfume over your feet?

Is this how your disciples felt when they left you to die on the cross?

God, we are broken. Teach us to build. Help us to build peace, build hope, build relationships. Stop our hands from building structures, edifices and properties. Teach us instead to build up each other.

Bless us Jesus, with your abudant blessings that neither depend upon our brokenness or our building. Instead it is your binding–magnitizing us with love, encouraging us to love and serve one another.

Bless us, Because…

Just Because.

Break us, Bless us, Build us through our binding to you we pray.

Amen.

A-Part: A Prayer

God, I am tired of being in parts.

My family is scattered in different States

My church is scattered across the city

And the pieces and parts of myself that were for friendships and socialization are hard to find.

And we are all in the parables of the lost–we’ve all lost money, and our flock and family.

We’ve lost a year. A year of birthdays and friendships and fun. A year of school and work and experiences. A year of community. All of it has sucked, and been sucked our of it and we are all left in pieces, in parts.

I am so tired of being apart, God.

And I keep thinking, how we keep trying to be community!

First with the loving works given to us by artists, then with rainbows, then we bells ringing and neighbors singing, and parking lot hangouts and drive by parties. Bubbles and postcards, phone calls and chocolate, zoom calls and google calls and Skype calls and FaceTime calls–all to ad nauseum.

Look how we are all trying to be together while we are a part.

I think of my congregant in Japan who sends us masks and face shields,

I think of my congregant in Western New York who sends us articles and prayers

I think of our friend in Pakistan, or Dubai (depending) who edits our YouTube.

God we are trying, so hard, and I can’t wait to try this community again.

In the midst of being prodigal children, in the midst of being lost, we are trying to find one another!

God, be with us.

Inscribe on our hearts the lessons of essential workers and the inadequacy of disability checks of the skewed value of work over health, and the indelible effects that racism has on every single system we have.

God, I can’t wait until we can be in person together.

Then we will rejoice: we have found our coin, our flock, our family!

And until we are there, help us God, please help us to continue to look for community.

Because Church happens whenever we seek, find and are a community.

Don’t let us give up. Sustain us like the widow, like the shepherd, like the stubborn (and possibly too recalcitrant) prodigal family.

Help us to Find one another we pray.

Amen.

Feel free to use/share/adapt/ with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Grading and Grace

God, I confess that sometimes I treat Christianity like a graded activity.

And it is all to my loss, because inevitably there is a typo in the bulletin, or a phone call I’ve forgotten to make or an email with the wrong attachment two or three times.

And sometimes, then I feel bad that I can’t do all of the things or help in all the ways I want to help.

And Lord you know, that my subconscious is telling me that points in my Christianity grade are being taken away.

But that’s not how it ever works God. You never ever take points away from us, but are always ready to give us points and credit.

T-Shirt (Recovering Perfectionist) | RamonaCreel.com - RamonaCreel.com

You fill our hearts with joy when we can help out! You create in us a celebratory spirit so that we can wish one another happy birthday, congratulate people on joyous life moments: like graduations, jobs, moves, babies, becoming heatlhier in any way.

God, you built us to encourage one another. To sit with one another when we are grieving and to cheer one another on, whenever we need it.

You give us all of the credit when we notice kindness, or build one another up, or remember to practice gratitude.

Christianity is the place where it should always be safe to ask for help.

And through your love, I am reminded that Christianiy has never been a graded activity. It is, after all, a place for the least of these to thrive.

Christianity is a place where sitting at the right hand of Jesus is not the goal, and washing the feet of those who need it the most is.

It is a place where perfection is admitted, up front, to be impossible, and trying our best is all that is required.

God, we know that your have designed the world, so there is no such thing as perfect faith, You will not give us a hundred on our Christian works.

Instead, you send the Holy Spirit to change our faith even as we change, and somehow still count it as valid.

Teach us again God that as faith changes us, we change our faith. We pray the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit prays us. Tomato, Tomato–God’s grace allows us to get all the credit.

Help us to practice the grace of Christianity, we pray. Suspend our judging nature, help us to let go of perfectionism and checklists and to instead be relational and growing in how and why we do this Christian thing.

Melt us, mold us, heal us, use us for your grace–whether we call it Christianity or not–let this be the way we live closer to you.

And when we fumble–remind us that Jesus Christ fully believes in the practice of extra credit.

In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.

Feel Free to Use/Share/Adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

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