God, I don’t have enough tears for 400,000. If I cried for forty days and forty nights, it wouldn’t be enough.
So instead I’ll light the candle–and watch the flame gasping for breath.
And when I blow it out, I’ll bathe my face in the smoke. I taste ashes on my tongue.
Grief is never enough. The lives cut short, every single one of them, is a tragedy.
Anger rises, and I let it wash and let it go, because this anger is sadness in disguise.
I breathe in, and out, and feel the prickles of oxygen that others can no longer breathe.
God I don’t have enough tears for 400,000 people.
But you do. Mourn with me please I pray. Every tear for one of your beloved. May they fill the ocean with the salt of sorrow, so that we can never again let people die because they are essential or forgotten.
Mourn with me, I pray.
Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
I am so angry, she said, and I admit I was surprised to hear the echo of her words in my heart God.
Of course, I know I’m angry God, we all are. Haven’t I been giving permission for people to scream psalms and then wrote out my own about the catastrophe that lead up to and was 2020? But I was still surprised…because I am SO angry, God.
I’m angry God, with little places to process it, and very small chances to even be grumpy (though I am, of course grumpier like most people).
I’m angry that people keep making poor decisions, I’m angry that I don’t know how long I have to stay in survival mode.
I’m angry that my child who has autism works so hard to remain masked when so many capable adults believe rumors and lies and continue to ignore the need to do what is needed to stay safe.
I am angry that we are so, so lonely, while others go out and party.
I’m angry that my family’s mental health is precarious at best, and I’m angry that the priorities of the government and individuals seem to be power and money over safety, and self-righteousness over loving our neighbor.
And I’m angry that my family cannot perfectly keep others safe because there are too many factors and not enough cooperation for us to be able to tell when and how all of this will end.
I am angry that more and more people are getting sick or dying, and all the socioeconomic things–Too many to name even….
I want to be angry God, because it’s a true reaction to what is going on.
Is this how Jesus felt when Samaria refused to welcome him when he finally decided to journey to Jerusalem? Did he have to get over it to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan?
Or did you tell the story to yourself Jesus? Did you tell it to remind yourself not to always be angry?
God, there is nowhere to put this anger. If I put it on mine enemies, and wish them harm or illness, I–in truth–only hurt myself.
And there’s no real way to process it, yet.
Except sometimes I watch a show or I read a book and I cry.
God help us, help me, with this trauma. This mix of delayed mourning, longstanding loneliness and more anger than I realized.
Help us say the prayers, scream the screams, write the psalms and to create the rituals we need in this time of trauma. Help us to create small oases of sanctuaries to process. the hardship we are going through.
I’m tired of being angry God. Please help me in whatever way you can.
Send your Holy Spirit to comfort and renew me, I pray.
Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
With Credit to @blackgirlinmain Shay Stewart Bouley on Twitter who congulated those cooking their first Christmas dinner–with full empathy for how nerve wracking it is– her tweet inspired this.
A blessings on all those who had to cook, who aren’t usually responsible for Christmas dinner–blessings for those who did tacos or takeout or didn’t cook at all and just rustled up whatever was around.
A blessing for whom the Christmas rituals were too short this year, missing people and missing traditions, and a blessings for whom they were too long because the holiday is such a struggle.
A blessing for those for whom Christmas is the end of a very long and very tiring season and they are awaiting a little bit of a break or a restart, and a blessing for this for whom Christmas means no break at all, and often means double work and double stress and little grace or gratitude from those around you.
A blessing on those who have experienced a loss, for whom Christmas hits hard and lonely, a blessing for those who are dealing with infertility when everyone is screaming about babies being born.
A blessing for the families who don’t have the money to do Christmas, for the families that are too busy worrying about a roof over their head or food to eat to feel blessed in any way.
A blessing for the sick and those caring for them. In this time of trial, may there be compassion and moments, however brief, of respite.
A blessing for those who aren’t sure if they want to celebrate Christmas, for whom it’s complicated or carries too much baggage or carries too many to do lists or litmus tests of faith.
A blessing for those for whom this is their “first” Christmas of any kind, good or bad, because transition is tough and we need these blessings.
A blessing on those who are tired, alone, trapped, in danger. A blessing for victims of abuse, victims of state brutality, those who are imprisoned and those who are stuck in violent or unsafe situations, a blessing for those in the midst of war in what should be a season to pursue peace.
A blessing for those who are searching for hope: through family or friends or social media, a blessing because the search can be long and hard and you can get lost upon the way and talk to the wrong people as the magi can tell you.
A blessing for those whom I’ve forgotten, those who are at the corners of my mind, but somehow skipped over. I lift you up to God, because God knows your heart. God knows the blessings you need, so I pray that God gives you the blessings you need.
God, I’m a the point in the chaos where I am wondering if I am allowed to be happy
Because the world is shitty right now. People are sick and dying. Politicians and governments do nothing and there is real suffering in the world.
And God knows the last recession, we were living on the edge, skirting bankruptcy, playing Russian Roulette with the bills, the credit cards, the job searches
I remember counting property after property for sale in 2010
This time the hurt is less visible. Those who are sick are quarantined, the hospitals are off limits, and poverty is hidden again and again (like we did) because it is a sign of shame.
I am all to aware the the suffering I know is but a microcosm of what is really going on.
So when things go right, when I realize we have enough room to live in, or we enjoy celebrating the youngest turning 9, or I get in to the program I applied for. I wonder is it ok to be happy?
Lord, I thank God for things like the Nap Ministry and Queer Theology and Black Girl Magic which remind us of the value of rest and joy, and that these things must be practiced especially in the midst of chaos.
Lord I give thanks for a moment to soak in the sun, the opportunity to zoom and pray for one another, and the early Christmas tree lights and carols that are seeping into consciousness.
Lord God I thank you for the beauty of snowflakes, the reminder that safe at home can mean cozy at home and the gifts of pets, hot chocolate, and my favorite music.
Help me to celebrate the little things, God. Help me not to forgo joy, but instead to embrace it, and let these moments strengthen me so that I am more able to go on.
Remind me that you give joy to everyone, even those who suffer, and that denial of joy is not helping anyone, I pray.
This Thanksgiving, please give me, and help me to celebrate whatever pieces of joy might happen. Especially give me the spirit and strength to recognize when these pieces of joy sneak up and surprise me.
Help me to enjoy them.
And appreciate them.
And give thanks for them, I pray.
Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
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Paralyzed as the election approaches–a million years away, and yet it’s coming any minute.
How are we supposed to plan for post-election, for advent and for Christmas when we don’t know what is going to happen?
How are we supposed to plan?
Don’t you know God, writing our sermons and prayers would be easier if we knew what was going to happen.
I’m not a skip to the end personality; but right now I am.
Anxiety is in the air.
God! I feel so small. So here is small prayer.
To survive until the election, to do the things that need to get done, to feed the kids, take care of the church, to stay safe and connected.
Take this small prayer that is in the hearts of pastors everywhere who are preparing to preach in a divided country, where some congregations are divided, or some congregations completely disagree with their pastor.
Lord, take this small prayer, and grow it into the prayer it needs to be for post-election:
Holy Spirit, we need to talk about this whole humanity thing.
Because I am plumb worn out from having existential crises about the human race!
Between pandemics, systematic oppression, the continual pursuit of power and principalities that screw the costs, and the whole the earth itself seems to be crying out from abuse thing, my head is spinning.
This is not to mention poverty, homelessness, neglect of those who are addicted, and the deaths of black and brown children, and I am reminded once again of the orphans which (again) have been created and abused by my very own government, oh and there’s a war in Armenia where my Aunt is located– I find I am bone weary.
Can these bones walk?
Holy Spirit, do you sometimes give humanity the side eye when you appear in bird form?
Because I trust in you. I trust God, and I love Jesus. This is not about that.
But I am dried out, cracked at the core when I think of humanity as whole.
I have found amazing human beings on earth. In the Singular I know individuals: gracious and forgiving ones, selfless and devoted ones, tireless and hard working ones. I love many-a-person…
But when it comes to humanity…
Well let’s just say I understand that whole flood thing better now.
Sometimes I wish I could do a reboot too, but we both know that doesn’t fix the inherent issues with being human
And so, here I am, stuck in an existential crises.
Why do we exist?
And, maybe the real existential question is this: if I know we can do better, how are we not doing better? Why?
Ok, but we have to try.
We have to show that those who are poor, or homeless are beloved.
We have to constantly interrupt racism and oppression, and plots to kill people or the neglect that lets people die. We have to stand up to power.
God, I remember a story in the Bible when someone asked Jesus a very political question about marriage, he basically said “that’s a human thing, God doesn’t care about such things”
Immediately this was followed up with a question about what does God care about, and Jesus responds with a simple “Love God, and Love each other” summary of, well, basically everything!
As always, when I have trouble loving other humans, I reground myself in loving you God.
Because I don’t know how to love humanity, and I don’t know why we are here.
So I guess I’m going to have to love you, and trust that you are continually helping us to course correct so that all things work together for good.
But right now, I’m going to snuggle under the covers, and tell myself that its ok that I don’t know how to process humanity’s existential crisis right now, because that’s not my job.
God, I never realized that historic events aren’t really one thing. Instead they are the combination of humanity’s foibles boiling over to the point of historicity.
I didn’t even know historicity was a real word until today.
And what will bubble up next? Australian Fires, Hurricanes, Derechos, Post Offices. Lord I’m only human, how can I process all this? Or maybe I can’t.
Did racism cause the Black Lives Matter marches and sometime riots? What ingredients meshed exactly right to finally give people the exact things they needed to get out and protest: racism, yes, but also poverty and pandemics, boredom and bereavement, time and trouble.
These sort of things come from the perfect balance, so that the risk you are taking is the best risk possible.
God, I’ve been thinking a lot about risk. Of Hagar the enslaved who risked raising her son in the desert, about Joseph the imprisoned who risked interpreting dreams of his cellmates, of Rahab of Canaan who defied expectations to help Joshua.
What is the perfect risk for us as Christians right now? As we look at this particularly moment in history, how do we decided how to risk, and who to risk, and why?
And how do we risk for ourselves and our community, and yet still practice grace towards all the rest of humanity–who are having to make the same decisions in different circumstances.
Truly we are all weathering the same storm: but in different boats, with different tools and different gifts.
Really God, is now the time to discern gifts? I mean, really and truly God, I want you to know that now is a truly risky time to discern our gifts.
Remind us, it’s worth the time.
Black Lives Matter
Remind us, We are worth the time.
Remind us, You are worth the time.
God of the poor, the sick and the marginal.
And teach us how to risk in this historic moment, in the best, kindest most gracious way we can.
I pray this with all those who are risking right now. Help me stand with them I pray.
Permission to Use or Adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
God, only you know how many times I’ve been to the mailbox.
Checking it two to five times because some days the most exciting interaction of the day is getting my mail.
Lord, you know how I fell back in love with mail. The encouraging letter from an old connection to take care of myself during the pandemic–the boxes of small treats, the postcards to the children, and the much needed supplies in the height of local shortages.
The Easter cards, I never had time to do, where I poured my love out to my congregation, the handwritten notes and the small activity books for the kids of the church.
Lord this is prayer for the mail, which was so consistent in my life and did not used to be exciting. It used to just be bills and ads, and have instead been a tangible, touchable, visual sign of love and community.
I used to know how things worked, but I don’t anymore.
I guess, this is the moment you write a psalm.
A prayer that cries out to God, for all the injustices in the world.
The missed vacations, friends and fun.
The skipped memories, rituals and milestones.
My God, why does life work this way? Why can I look at a cheaper mortgage when others can’t pay the rent?
How is it I’m in the position of privilege, when we almost didn’t make it out of the last recession?
Lord I used to know how things went, we worked, the kids went to school, we tried to find time for socialization.
Now I discover the hidden histories that were in plain sight all along. I finally understand the racism that I’ve been trying to see for the last ten years.
Suddenly I’m understanding the economics of pastoral care and relationship.
Lord I am surrounded by fear and illness. My enemies spread discord and lies, and care nothing for the vulnerable.
I guess I’m writing this psalm, because psalms don’t resolve anything.
They just affirm that our God is the one who cares for every single person, our God does not even let a sparrow or a sparrow’s feather to drop without God’s knowledge.
They reflect that God is….somewhere…. shining through the cracks–showing us opportunities to be helpers, reminding us that when we are lucky: we need to care.
So here is my Psalm God, my crying out of obscenities at the injustices of the world, and my shaking of the fist at all those with hardened hearts.
Let every person have enough to eat, give every person a mask and the opportunity to stay safe, help us to stop being stupid.
Remind us to be as consistent as we can (something humans suck at) as we try to fight this pandemic. As it rips of the bandaids that we have put over racism, inequality, poverty, education and childcare and housing, help us to see the world as it is.
God, we are wounded and bleeding. Hear our cry.
We are begging for you God, to do your work. Please love all of your children, because some days that best I can do is get out of bed, shower, call someone and not sink back into depression.
Love doesn’t make the list as often as I wish, and thankfulness is not as dominant as I’d like. Heal me, save me I pray. Heal us, save us we pray.
I used to know how things worked, but I don’t anymore. So here is my Psalm.
Lord we used to know how things worked, but we don’t anymore, so here is our Psalm
Lord in your mercy.
Hear our Prayer.
Feel free to use as needed credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
In a time when every single decision seems to carry weight. Do we go to the grocery store, or do take out? Am I appropriately spaced from the person nearby? Do I go to bed or spend 5 more minutes on this moment of free time?
Reopening sucks. Are we even reopening? How much can we reopen? Should we even try when we know that it’s still not safe?
Lord, decision making is not safe right now.
Do I send my kids to some kind of camp or school? Do I accede to digital learning, should i just homeschool (please God let the answer not be that I should be homeschooling, because i just can’t)
Lord, usually we make decisions in a split second, in a culture where immediacy is the primary value–I valued the swiftness over the efficacy.
God, Lord, Jesus, Holy Ghost. How do you–with three people make any decisions.
Do you have any hints for me?
Can you just make the decision for me? No?……
Well then, help me to weigh, to quiet my voice enough to give some room for yours–
Help me to make the best decision I can in the moment, remind me that nothing has to be written in stone.
Help me to make the right risky decisions: About who to help, who to be in relationship with, how to donate & protest in all the needful ways.
Give me the strength I need face the things I have to continue to say no to…give me the support I need to carry on in the midst of it all.
Grant me your grace, as I make the hard decisions I pray.
And please help every single human who is making all of the decisions. Kyrie Elesion.
Send your Holy Spirit, nudge us (or shove us) in the right direction, build consensus, Soften the hard-hearted so they can hear the facts they need to make the right decisions.