Lord, Have Mercy

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I wrote this prayer a few weeks ago in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting. Since then, there was the attack in the Istanbul airport and, this morning, news of a bombing in a Bangladesh restaurant. I offer it here as I continue to struggle with the violence that continues around the world.

The news is bad.
We are outraged and horrified.
We are shocked and afraid.
We are overwhelmed and numb.
How many more times will we awake to such news?

Some of us sit in front of the television,
Search the internet for stories,
Watch, listen for something
That will help make sense,
That will soothe or comfort,
That will bring order back again.

Some of us can’t bear the words, the images.
The press conferences and scrolling news feeds
Freeze our brains, our hearts, our guts.

Some of us pray.
Some of us escape.
Some of us rage.
Some of us cry.

God, have mercy on our world.
Have mercy on the powerless and the powerful.
Have mercy on the first responders and those in ministry to the brokenhearted.
Have mercy on the victims, their families, their friends.

Sit with us in our terror, our sadness, our hopelessness.
And let us hold the space for others as we
Sit or cry, light candles or pray,
In solidarity, in hope, in love.
Amen.

God, In Your Mercy

  
We wake up to the news
Of another terrorist attack.
Ordinary people doing ordinary things.
Lives changed forever.

This place seems so far away this morning.
But we are joined in our fear,
Our horror, our grief,
Our powerlessness to stop the evil of this world.

And yet, in this week, we remember
That though there is evil in this world
There is a Love that is greater.
There is a Love that overcomes even death.

This world, so large,
Yet so small.
We are joined together across the globe
In our ordinary human lives.

For those who suffer, send comfort.
For those who fear, send presence.
For those who grieve, send healing love.

God, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Read more of Beth’s blessings in her book Christ Beside Me, Christ Before Me: Celtic Blessings.

Joy and Sorrow

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Someone described yesterday as a day of “emotional whiplash.” From the declaration of love, justice, and equality by the U.S. Supreme Court to the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of those murdered in the hate crime committed at a bible study in Charleston, S.C. I believe, I hope, I trust that the presence of the holy was in these places both of ecstatic joy and of deep sorrow.

I sat in my office, weeping,
reading the live blog
from the Supreme Court.
5-4 in favor of same sex marriage.
Who could have known
this day would come?

Protection for families,
for children,
equal rights for couples.

Small things, so important …
A spouse’s name on a death certificate.
Two parents’ names on an adoption form.
The right to be by a loved one’s side in the emergency room.

The acknowledgment of covenant,
of commitment,
of love.

I sat in my living room, weeping,
watching the President,
family and friends and leaders,
mourn and celebrate the life of Reverend Pinckney.

Deaths too awful to comprehend,
meaningless, senseless,
lives torn asunder by racism,
an ugly, malignant tumor in our land.

I watch as this gathering, these witnesses,
transcend barriers.
I listen, and my spirit
rises out of despair and darkness
towards hope and light.

God, how can you contain
all of this?
All of this joy and sorrow,
all of this love and grief.
Be present with us in these days.
We need you now.

Scottie Haiku for the New Year

jackNewYearsDayMuch love and best wishes for a Happy New Year from Jack to each of you!

I face the new year.
With new squirrels and cats and such.
Please let me catch one.

Last night was quite loud.
I was scared to go outside.
What’s up with fireworks?

It’s foggy today.
Or do I need a haircut?
I can’t really tell.

It is new year’s day.
My breakfast was late again.
I hope work starts soon.

I love all of you.
You are the nicest people.
But you could send treats.

Jack still has some of his 2013 calendars left (Jack’s Tips for Healthy Living – 2013). If you’d like a signed copy, send Beth an email and we’ll get one to you. (beth@betharichardson.com.)

Prayer for Dad

Dad, Mom, and BethMy dad (Charles H. Richardson) passed away at 9:53 a.m. on Wednesday, December 7. I was on my way to the airport to fly to Oklahoma. I shared Psalm 139 and this prayer at his service on Friday.

Loving God, we give you thanks for the life of your servant, Charles. We knew him as father, husband, uncle, grandfather, preacher, musician, photographer, artist, compassionate listener and friend. We loved him and we saw glimpses of you in his photographs of mountains, flowers, and sunsets; in the way he loved chocolate pie or made pancakes for breakfast; in hikes in the mountains or trips to the zoo. We heard your voice through his sermons, his prayers, the songs he sang, the music he played, his infectious laugh, his telling of stories. We felt your love through his smile, his hugs, his gentle presence, his willingness to listen, to give, to be present with others.

Comforting God, we miss your servant, Charles, our father, husband, grandpa, uncle, friend and colleague. We give you so much thanks for his life and for the privilege of knowing him for this short time on earth. Be present with us in our loss. Comfort us in our grief. When we are overcome with sadness, sit with us and wrap us in your love.

We thank you, we praise you for your many gifts, but especially for the gift of Charles. It’s in great gratitude for this gift that we pray in your name. Amen.

Here is a link to the obituary for my dad.