My heart is wrenching in angst and sadness this morning.
Cynicism, suspicion, prejudice, and violence seem all to abound in the the hearts of those who say they love you, Lord.
They abound in your church, Lord, where the opposite should really be the reality.
In your church, Lord…
In your church, Lord, we choose to put our faith in weapons of war as our answer to problems in our world, exchanging violence for violence in a seemingly endless cycle. All the while we ignore the ‘sword of the Spirit:’ your Word, who says ‘Blessed are the peacemakers!”
In your church, Lord, we even mock those who long for peace, and we reject the Prince of Peace as we do.
In your church, Lord, we deny women their full humanity, and we embody the idea that women do not bear the full image of the divine. We do this each time we make a joke at a woman’s expense, or when we assume that we can define a woman’s role in the church and the world.
In your church, Lord, racism is rife. Sure, we say that do not see skin tone, or make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin; we say that none of that matters. But watch how our defenses get raised when we are faced with the challenges of diversity in the church. We feel threatened by difference and react with fear instead of perfect love, which casts out all fear.
In your church, Lord, we are guilty of profound arrogance. We believe that our individual life experiences, the lessons we have learned and the conclusions we have come to, are the final word in all things. We lack humility and the desire to grow and have our lives transformed to your ways.
In your church, Lord, we have rejected the extravagant, quite scandalous, and unconditional nature of your GREAT love, instead choosing only to appear to love when people have been deemed worthy; when they have learned to talk like us, look like us, believe like us, fit in with us. Only when we have judged a person acceptable in our sight; only when they deserve to have it do we fully and extravagantly share our watered down version of your ‘love’ with them.
My heart hurts, Lord.
This is your church.
And you have called and ordained me as one who will lead in your church.
But right now I feel like I am failing miserably when I see this reality around me.
My frustration is palpable.
But my faith remains in you, because only you have the power to transform lives.
Where our faith is misplaced, and put in the wrong things and places, help us return to you.
Where we have stopped striving, hoping, and working for peace in the world, help us by reviving our dead hearts and expanding our small minds.
Where we think that another human being is less than us because of their gender, bring us to repentance and teach us in your way: the way in which ALL people can be called by you to ANY vocation or station.
Where the poison of racism lives and thrives within us, obliterate it, Lord, and transform your church.
Where arrogance has blinded us to new things and to continuous maturing and growth in our lives, open our eyes so that we might see, know, and experience your powerful transforming grace!
Where we have fenced you in, and tried to put a boundary on your GREAT love with our own limited understanding, forgive us and flood our hearts with your ever flowing and never ending rivers of love.
And in me, Lord…
Show me where I am wrong.
Show me where I have misunderstood.
Show me my prejudice.
Show me how I have boxed you in.
Forgive me for the angst, bitterness, and frustration that feels so rife in me right now.
Transform my flawed, broken life. Guide me so as to walk in your way more and more everyday. Transform my life to make it more like Christ’s life; to bear his image and likeness in all places and conversations.
Sanctify me, because I know that even as I point the finger within your church, I also must own the fact that I too am the church.
So, Lord, hear this prayer today, and transform your people.