God, this is the week that never ends, in the year that never ends.
Always, towards the end of the school year there is an impossible week.
Where spring and summer activities collide in their not quite done, and just getting started-ness.
Always there is a week where the schedule doesn’t work, every day has triple obligations, and on top of that everyone is cranky.
And then, someone doesn’t sleep, and someone else doesn’t feel well or the car has trouble or the pet has to go to the vet or the computer quits working or a something else impossible happens.
God, timing is everything.
And this year, when I have spent more time with parts of my family than ever, and seen other parts and my friends almost not all…
This year when vacations and retreats are just gasps of breath in the midst of survival mode…
This year when all the “fun things” I thought I was doing to have fun turned out to be coping mechanisms essential to surviving, as they have fallen by the wayside and the to do list somehow continues while these other things don’t..
God Almighty, You know, how this year has been never-ending.
Like a song that is stuck in your head, nagging at you day in and day out, that’s how the pandemic works–always in the background, giving your headaches and heartaches. Always on the calendar as you figure out what to do and how to do it.
The stress presses down, on my head, on my heart, on my soul.
God, I have been praying without ceasing this year. I have cried and sighed and laughed and zoomed and emailed and turned on cameras and turned off camera, have put on masks and then then washed the masks, every single day of this never ending year.
I have examined every ache and sniffed and listened to every lonely heartache of my friends and family…..and taken-just-a-moment-to-center-myself all in prayer.
I am living into the rhythm of prayer Lord–one that is both structured and spontaneous, one that has been out loud and quiet, one where I’ve known exactly what to say and one where I’ve murmured nonsense to the Holy Spirit.
It’s the longest week, in the longest year I’ve ever lived.
So I will continue to pray, and live.
Thank God you are eternal, thank God that prayers do not cease, and are picked up by friends and families and churches and strangers when mine falter.
Thank God you are the song that never ends God.
Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
About love and tradition and cultural differences. I asked (rather timidly even) if race played a part to our reactions.
And soon I found myself hip deep in a quagmire of pain.
People were triggered. They felt they needed to defend their pain.
And it was hard God, and part of me wanted to take it all back. Because I don’t want to create heartache.
But then I remembered two weeks ago when someone asked me hard questions about love and inclusion and the brokenness of the system that I perpetuated.
And although that was embarrassing and hard. I lived through it.
And in reflecting this experience I remembered that part of why I asked the hard questions this week was because as of last week I was tired of us: me, the church, consumer culture, ignoring hard issues and perpetuating whatever was comfortable for us.
Did you ever notice Jesus really likes to answer a question with a harder question?
You deconstructed me Lord. And I confess I need you to bless this mess today, because I’m going to be in the deconstructed zone for a while.
Because once God starts to deconstruct you, it becomes easier for you to see other places where the threads of normal need to be pulled apart.
And you can choose to continue the work God started, but it’s up to you.
So I guess I’ve reached a new level of maturity, where I stay in the muck longer than is comfortable, and I feel the anguish of racism on top of the anguish of those in pain.
And as my heart aches, I am thankful for all the times I was able to say:
“I don’t know. “
And “I hear you.”
As I sat with the pain and let go of the reasons and the arguments.
Do you sometimes say I don’t know God?
I don’t know
But thank you for helping me to brave the muck; and help me to muddle through, or sit, or cry. Help me to do this hard questioning thing I pray.
Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
I cannot wait until acts of justice are no longer a surprise, for you know God, and you told us through Amos and Isaiah and Luke that justice that is surprising is no justice at all. It is at worst painted as sacrifice and mercy and is at best the drops of accountability.
I am so thirsty for justice, Lord. And I confess my spirit is dry and brittle, breaking apart in its absence.
Human justice is not even a meager copy of your justice Lord. racism and bigotry poisons any system we might try.
God I cannot wait for your justice to flow like water. So that we taste it on our tongue, so that it rains on us daily from the sky.
I can’t wait until the taste and feel of justice is so familiar that it begins to feel like home.
I can’t wait until the moment that every cry for mercy, every cry for help, every cry for mama is answered–with the swiftness of the Holy Spirit on the wing.
God, I cannot wait, until not one street never ever sees a droplet of blood again. Instead they sparkle with the cleansing waters of justice, instead they are filled so much with justice, that it becomes puddles for the children to splash in, soaking themselves with the liquid.
I cannot wait until justice becomes a child’s plaything—Known so much, that it becomes a part of our very breath and body. I cannot wait until the 60% of water that flows through our bodies is blessed, in the completion of our baptism, into the holy waters of justice imbuing our very selves.
I can’t wait until I can spit justice out on the street with clear truths and gracious words that free my siblings of all colors, creeds, ages, sexualities and genders.
I cannot wait for justice to flood our world. Not like the flood of Noah killing off the bad, but like the rains of the desert, giving the much needed food to the flora and fauna to bloom.
I cannot wait for justice, so I’m going to gather the drops and the dribbles and the driplets I have experienced, and I’m going to share them out to those I meet. Showing them how it cools violence, and refreshes spirits, and is miraculously freer than any other action.
Because my freedom is wrapped up in yours, my humanity is wrapped up in yours, and my justice is wrapped up in yours.
I’m ready to do this justice thing, God. Teach me how to do it I pray.
Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
With Thanks to Lilla Watson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s works and thanks also Black Twitter who let me listen as they prayed, grieved and celebrated over George Floyd and the guilty verdict of Officer Chauvin.
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………………………………
Feel free to use/adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
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?
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.
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.
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.
Please feel free to use/share credit to Pastor Katy Stenta