"The kind of food our minds devour will determine the kind of person we become." - John Stott, Your Mind Matters

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mourning With Those Who Mourn: A Prayer for the Displaced, Lost and Grieving

Since I started attending our liturgical Baptist church in the city, I've had the opportunity to try my hand at writing small bits of liturgy along the way. I've been so fascinated by the process, of looking at the first and second testament readings, pre-reading the sermon if available, and then weaving common themes into prayers of invocation and calls to worship. This past Sunday was my first time being in charge of the prayers of the people - a daunting task for me, since I have felt like a prayer-novice all my life.



I got some helpful guidance from the wise pastoral staff at church, but one that was particularly freeing was the advice to let the prayer sound like it's from me and not someone else. So, I pressed forward to combine the sermon theme ("seeking the peace and well-being of the city" - Jeremiah 29:7) with some of the themes that have been on my own heart recently.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been doing quite a bit of mourning with those mourn and, my own version of this verse: questioning with those who question. My parents have been facing a second summer of intense wildfires that have destroyed friends' homes and threatened many others. My province has faced some of the worst floods in the history of Alberta, forcing 100,000 people to evacuate their homes, not knowing what they'll find when they return. Friends of ours have travailed through the adoption process for close to four years, only to have their beloved daughter pass away weeks before she was to come home to them from across the world. An old friend of mine chose to take his life on Father's Day, leaving a wife and four young children behind to figure out how to make sense of something so senseless.

I wrote this prayer with these things in mind.

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Heavenly Father, who looks with loving compassion on all of your creation, we lift up our prayers to you.

There are so many who have been displaced - by flood and fire, war and famine.
May they be fed and cared for, and may they find kindness on their journeys.
Lead them to a safe place, to find comfort under the shelter of your wings.
May they find their home in you.


For those who have found themselves where they did not expect to be,
Oh Lord, hear our prayer.


For those who have experienced loss – of homes, jobs, good health, and of loved ones,
May they find your love and the light of your promises to be enough for the next step.
Lead them to a place of hope, to find glimpses of joy in their journey.
Bind up their wounds – so tenderly – and fill them again with your goodness and mercy.

For those who grieve and seek a path forward toward hope,
Oh Lord, hear our prayer.


For those who have wandered far from you - who feel forsaken, forgotten, or fearful,
May they find that you are not so far off after all.
May they trust in your prodigal love,
And run into your outstretched arms with joy.

For those who are lost and in need of God’s welcome,
Oh Lord, hear our prayer.


And lastly, we pray, for those of us who are comfortable – safe, healthy and secure.
We heartily thank you for your many blessings.
May we be agents of your blessing to others as we seek the peace and prosperity of this city.
Lead us to those whom you look upon with compassion – the overworked, the underfed, the neglected and the depressed.
Fill us with your grace and mercy and love, that we may be healers in your name

For those in need of what we have to offer,
Oh Lord, hear our prayer.

Amen.

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PS - In my struggle to know what to say when there is nothing suitable to say, I found this article, entitled Stop Trying to Get God Off the Hook to be quite helpful. Maybe you will too. 

2 comments:

  1. Tears streaming down my face. Thank you for expressing what I needed to pray. In this wounded city which still suffers from the Storm those years ago and struggles with the loss and horror of those experiences. I join you in prayer for our friends who are suffering anew this Summer. May we remember all our sufferings and comfort with a knowing comfort. (I too am allergic to prayers of the people. But I have to do them in a few weeks! Eeeck!)

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  2. You are a natural liturgist, Becky. Thank you for this prayer. It is simple, true, deep, compassionate, honest, and hopeful. It is also beautifully written.

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