Prescient God: Rainbows & Trinities

Today I think that the most prescient thing God ever did was to hang their rainbow in the sky.

God knew what God was doing when they hung up the bow after the storms

Knowing that we needed the reminder that every storm runs out of rain–as Maya Angelou put it.

Knowing that it would be claimed and expanded by all of God’s queer children, proclaiming that love is love is love is love and that God created a multiplicities of genders and sexualities–just like God created a rainbow with thousands upon thousands of hues and in-betweens.

We need rainbows, because God knew

Before sociological studies and microscopic and macroscopic science; before we did our Genesis job of naming all of the people, places and things of the world, you knew that very naming would make us create divisions.

Before we made elaborate charts to discover and explicate the mystery of the Trinity, God, you knew

You knew how much we need rainbows

You knew racism would be a stumbling block of sin,

that normalcy is a illusion of bigotry

that being neurotypical or not is a spectrum….which is another word for rainbow

and that gray can beautiful color, and sometimes we sit in the gray–

God I always imagine that the Trinity is gray, in between and a part of the rainbow world you created.

And God, you knew that you, the Almighty and Many Breasted God needed to symbolically and in all practicalities disarm Godself.

Promising never to send natural disasters as punishment.

Never.

And putting the most powerful weapon of the time, the equivalent of a gun, up. Forever.

Because if God can disarm Godself, then it is clear what we should do.

In the midst of horrific gun violence in the US, the state imbued violence in the United States and Colombia, and in the midst of border wars in Armenia-Azerbaijan, climate asylum and violence in Syria, and the oppression and apartheid conditions in Gaza.

God you know we need to figure out how to live in concert and beauty in rainbows–and how to first and foremost disarm ourselves as you did thousands of years ago.

Thousands of years ago.

God, thank you for your prescience.

And for all the rainbows

And for giving us the time.

And the promises within the rainbow, that it won’t always be like this.

Help us embody your rainbow.

Help us to honor your rainbow.

Fill us with rainbows I pray.

Amen.

rainbow | National Geographic Society
Image

Feel free to Share/Adapt/Use this prayer with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

A Week of Hard Questions: A Prayer

God, this week I asked hard questions

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.

Amen.

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

Baptisms and Miracles

To modern day readers, this encounter with the Eunuch may be one of the wackiest texts we encounter. All the reasons that stick out to us as being weird or miraculous were fairly typical of ministry of the day. 

Philip is awoken by an angel and told to hit the road and travel on a specific road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Then the Spirit tells Philip to join the chariot, so Philip runs to catch up to a chariot! Then upon baptism the Spirit whisks Philip away, poof, and the Eunuch goes on rejoicing. In the era that this was written, none of these encounters with angels ro the Holy Spirit would be remarked upon as strange.

The parts that are not as strange to us, are the real miracles of the time:

Philip being converted by his mission experience

A Eunuch who can read ancient Hebrew text and is studying it

A river appears in, what is likely to be, the desert road between two cities. It is unusual for water to be in a place that is not a city, and yet it appears at the exact time that the Eunuch seeks baptism. We do not think hard about water in the desert, but we can be sure the ancient Hebrews and Greeks and Ethiopians did as they traveled. 

In modern times, we have learned a lot. We know that those who go on missions go to convert themselves not others, and think hard about the nature of toxic charity and heroism. We think that reading the texts is normal, or should be and encourage as many people as we can to study them. And we absolutely hope that all people are accepted into the faith. 

So what we consider miracles were considered normal and vice versa. Except for the fact that the Eunuch is queer individual, and we still aren’t sure what the answer to their question “what should prevent me from being baptized?”

Whether swept up in the suddenness of the moment or not having a good answer, Philip does not answer the question, and that itself becomes the answer. 

There is no objection to the baptism, so the moment passes. 

The Ethiopian is so excited to be baptized, that Philip cannot in any circumstances say no. 

No doubt the flashing neon signs fo the angel and Spirit served to help too. Yes that EXACT chariot, that’s the place we mean. No need to wonder if this is the right person, and the fact that they are reading Ancient Hebrew on a scroll is incredible. Here is this person, probably not even allowed in the temple, who takes their faith seriously enough to journey to Jerusalem and is educated enough to read, and not only to read, but to read a different language then that which is spoken in Ethiopia. 

How? Is this Eunuch a descendent of the Hebrews who journeyed and stayed in Egypt? The borders of such countries are unclear, but this individual is clearly a different gender, country and culture than Philip. They even garner such great power as to be the treasurer for the queen. They are riding rich, in a chariot. Did Philip feel overwhelmed by all of these differentials? Did he wonder if he was the right person for the job? Did he rejoice that God gave him such a challenge? 

It is important, as anti-trans legislation rips through the US and the UK, as anti-queer policy rips apart the Methodist and Reformed traditions, as the Pope proclaims that gays cannot get married in the Catholic church, it is important to look at this precedent. 

“What is to prevent me from becoming baptized”

In John, Jesus says: I am the vine and you are branches, abide in my and I in you, so that we might bear fruit. We are once again, reminded that our fates, our health, our prosperity, our faith is intertwined with one another. We must acknowledge one another, work with one another and grow with one another, so that we might all bear fruit. When we put barriers up, when we say we cannot welcome one another, we die on the vine. This is so very true in churches, where people want only people like them to attend. 

This is also true in our economies, where Citi Bank says we have lost $16 Trillion in GDP in the US alone due to our racism https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-protests-for-racial-justice/2020/09/23/916022472/cost-of-racism-u-s-economy-lost-16-trillion-because-of-discrimination-bank-says

Philip knows what it is to be an outcast and is by no means the least of the disciples, no doubt some part of him sympathized with the Eunuch. After all Philip was almost stoned to death. Philip knows what he is doing. 

So imagine after this incredible journey, after he is swept back to the disciples, after he has baptized this individual, the story he tells–the precedent he sets, is the a eunuch: A queer gender non conforming individual is part of who should be baptized! 

“Go and baptize all people” in Matthew 28:17-20 could be glossed as “I really mean it.” 

I am the vine and your are the branches could be glossed as: we are not meant to discriminate

And Psalm 22 definitely emphasizes that God is for all people and that God promises to be for all generations, even those “Dang Kids” future generations who no doubt will do things differently in the future. 

Hopefully this passage can inspire us to pursue baptism more inclusively and more joyfully. 

And if not, hopefully God sends an angel, the Holy Spirit and a river to help us along the way.

God we need your justice: a prayer

[Blue Green water reflecting the abstract of a mountain, tree and sky with the words “Let Justice Flow Down like Waters and Righteousness like an overflowing stream.] Image found here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/560064903645243301/

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.

Amen.

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.

I’m Mad and that’s not Going to Change: Prayer

@Black Liturgies [Image of Daunte Write in a Red Baseball Cap with the words: “They dress the wounds of my people, as though it were no serious. saying ‘Peace, peace.’ when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6. Watermarked from @BlackLiturgies]

God, I am so mad.

I’m heartbroken by so many things, but I’m mad about the state sanctioned murder of yet another black and brown person.

“Thou shalt not kill” you say. But they say “He had a gun, he looked older, she was suspicious.”

And the streets run with blood, too often the blood of children.

I’m so angry that white terrorists shoot up towns and schools and workplaces and grocery stores and are arrested alive again, and again.

But Black skin is seen as more dangerous than a gun.

I’m so scared of those people who thinking they are keeping us safe: white men and women, cops, and especially white cops.

Lady Jane Illustration [Digital Illustration of a person with flowing green hair, a dark grey jacket, gold hoop earrings and nose ring, trans flag pin, and green shirt. They are clutching their face with their hands. Behind them are pink flowers blooming. The text reads, ‘policing doesn’t keep us safe’]

It makes me think of my friends in college–all 4 of whom were beaten by their father, it makes me think the 3 sisters all who were raped by him throughout their lives, and how they all kept it a secret from each other because of the shame of it. They were hurt by their own father, a cop.

God why is it that we cannot take weapons from abusive individuals? Why is their right to remain armed deemed more important?

Why does their need for violent safety trump my need for peaceful safety?

Why do the police always win?

God I’m angry, and I’m going to stay angry. Because the lack of justice burns my soul. It makes me hunger for a different land, a different way, a different power structure.

God I must confess over and over again Racism is killing us, all of us.

And it’s tricky and can make White People feel safe, when we too are dying. We commit suicide and deal with depression and toxicity all because we are blind and refuse to be healed.

Curse You White Fragility, Male Fragility and American so called Patriotism.

Our communities, economies and peace is dying each and every time one of our Black Siblings die.

Black Lives Matter.

Our families, our relationships, our very understanding of time iteslf suffers whenever a Brown sibling is abused and killed.

Stop Asian Hate, No Human Being is Illegal, Bad Theology Kills.

How can we stop the killing?

Is this how it felt, Lord when your children suffered slavery in Egypt?

Did Jesus weep in Jerusalem because he saw the Jews and the Gentiles and the Samaritans and the Essenes killing each other to win the prize of peace, never understanding that peace can’t be forced or taken or violently enforced.

Is this why you disarmed Your very own Godself? Hanging your Bow in the sky? And did you foresee the rainbow as a sign of acceptance, celebration, inclusion and peace for our queer siblings even as our Trans siblings of color die violently every week in the United States?

Are you angry God? You must be, because I am so angry.

God these are your children, and I am going to stay angry, until things change.

I’ll be here.

Praying

and Working, Protesting, Voting, Calling Representatives, Giving out Food and Water, and Living Out the Anti-Racist Journey and Work.

And I Know I’ll Still

Even After All That

Be Angry.

And it comforts me to know, that you, God, are angry too.

Thank you for this anger Lord.

Amen.

Please feel free to use/share/adapt the prayer with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta. Please credit Lady Jane Illustrations and Black Liturgies for the the apropos and inspirational images.

Conspiring with God: A Prayer

As rumors of microchips and aliens and kidnapped sex workers abound.

I hear you whispering that you are the God of the Conspiracy theorists too.

You hear their cries for a world that makes sense, you feel their arms when they reach out for someone/anyone to go along with what they are proclaiming, you take their anger when the world does not go the way it should.

You hold their hands, even when they think guns are the answer.

You continue to tell them the truth, even if their hearts are hardened with entrenched racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and other forms of bigotry.

Only you know, God, what conspiracies abounded when Jesus rode the small colt, you are the one who knows what the palms and cloaks symbolized for those who threw them.

You alone understand what poisonous lies, or world bending truths were whispered in Judas’s ear, to sell you out.

And still, the Truth is God’s, I can’t believe in any conspiracy but your love.

We humans are too clumsy, too small minded, too telltale to conspire.

I believe there are gross inequities, there are systems that run and thrive on corruption, I believe that there is, indeed, real evil manifest in the world.

But though I believe that power seeks out and protects power, and that small lies can lead to big lies, that there is no grand scheme.

Because evil is niggling and sneaky.

It hurts in micro-agressions and permission-giving for bad behavior, and in letting those who are in power believe their own lies. It’s not systemized, but all too often, it’s allowed to become prevalent.

So that bad decision stacks upon bad decision leading to the mistreatment of immigrants, the white supremacy becoming cultural, to faith being inseparable from the very flag that corrupts it and weighs it down.

And that’s why, I believe you conspire and inspire for good–all the time and every time.

This is why you said “Tell Herod that fox that I’m going to keep healing and preaching til I breathe my last.” This is why on your last day on earth, you had a ginormous good meal with your closest peeps, and then spent time loving on them and washing their feet.

You will never stop. Jesus. Jesus who meets us by the well, in a tree, and even upon a cross as we lay dying. Even then, you conspire for good.

And if I blink, I can see the co-inspiring works of the Holy Spirit.

If I blink: I can see how you make it so that babies remain impossibly cute and a couple of droplets of baptismal water are enough to start the flood of your never-ending grace

If I blink, I can see how the stars still sing out Abrahamic promises and rainbows still speak of a weaponless future of love,

If I blink I can feel your presence “your church” in all of the communities and all of the neighborhoods in the world, and its then I can taste how bread and the cup are enough to tie us to every one of your beloved: those who have come before, and those who have yet to be.

Holy Spirit, help me to conspire with you, and only you.

Stand with me as I work to find the threads of truth and love and hope.

Imbue in me, imbue in us, a faith that we humans can be beloved into a better being, and help me to talk and walk in ways that blot out the evils of the world. I pray in your most Holy Name, Jesus Christ.
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.

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

Its Complicated: a holiday prayer

God, I’m sitting with the fact that all holidays are complicated. Thanksgiving is the worst–because let’s be honest, the next one is always the worst one.

We try to remember to give thanks in a country where taking, enslaving and abusing people, land and…well everything is a part of our DNA.

And then there are the complications of not seeing family this year. And perhaps for some people, it’s emotionally safer to not see their family. Queer people who are rejected, disabled people who are forced to pass, victims of abuse or neglect trying to build bridges in a broken system.

So I’m praying for this complicated holiday, where everyone gets to feel especially lonely this year.

Teach us thanksgiving,

The Thanks part, and the giving part too.

Help us to find ways to safely connect and support one another. Help us to find the moments of security in this turbulent times.

But also, let us give ourselves permission for these holidays to be complicated.

Let us take them as they are, and struggle to acknowledge who and where we are this year.

This I pray in the name of the Holy Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

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

Read about my journey towards a doctorate in ministry in creative writing and give a small donation towards my tuition! About Me: My Story & My Writing

More Pandemic Prayers and Mundane Prayer to Survive the Day to Day