Olena Withrow

May 26th, 2024

Good and Gracious God who is always near – come closer still, we pray, lest we forget you are as near and vital to us as the very air we breathe. As we consider the grandeur of creation, let us not be overwhelmed by the vastness but in awe of your vivifying creative Spirit that infuses and exudes each complex, nuanced, and ever-evolving particularity of our neighbors the land, the sky, the water, humanity and all of the more-than-human creation. We are thankful for this common home we share. What a miraculous gift.

God who is Divine Mystery of the Trinity, draw us into the dance of relationality, reciprocity and self-giving love, and deliver us from fear. Teach us again of the necessity of community. Remind us what is it to approach one another with fists unclenched, ears open, hearts ready to learn. Clear our gaze- let us take in our actual community for who we are and all we bring to the table, committing together to the ambitious vision of bold love and boundless compassion, yet resisting the urge to idealize, coerce, or manipulate those right in front of us into what we might like them to be. Lead us not into consumerism, self-centeredness, or devouring of the earth, but deliver us from the apathy that says nothing can be changed. Bless us, Oh God, as we practice such divinely infused interdependence- needing and being needed, helping and being helped, As unnatural as it might feel, thank you for these reminders that we are not meant to do life alone. 

Glorious God who speaks truth to power, who lays down our swords for plowshares, who dismantles empires and systems of oppression, who parents us and nourishes us even in the wee hours of the night-  as we hear and experience the endless stories of cruelty and violence, war, trauma, poverty, hunger, oppression, loneliness, and grief though we may feel the darkness pressing close – we hear the songs of your love and solidarity calling out to us amidst the shadows, lighting our way in the night.

For those who are suffering amidst these impossible days- In your great love oh God, draw near, we pray. For we know that there is no height or depth nor indeed anywhere we can go that you are not with us. 

For the ways in which we perpetuate such sufferings, through systems and structures of oppression- create space in our lives and our hearts to change our ways. Spur our hearts to responsibility as we commit to your vision of peace in our world, responding to the cries of neighbors- both human and more-than-human. 

For those in the midst of transition and newness, whether joyful and brimming with new life or unwarranted with no clear path to follow – help us to organize our lives in the direction of simplicity- to hold honestly all the feelings that come with newness, the gratitude for what has come before, and the anticipation of what will be. Send your peace for the journey. 

God of Love, As we continue to do the work of living, and loving, and faithing together- let us sing as we go. May our struggles and concern for our common home never take away the joy of our hope. For it is precisely this difficult hope that makes us able to stay awake amidst it all- that calls us into the co-labor of creation with each other and with Christ. 

We pray all of these things, in the name of Jesus- the one who taught us to pray saying: 

Our father…