Friday, July 12, 2019

A Prayer from Lights For Liberty Wellsboro, PA


 As we seek to live into community with all that has life, including the great diversity of human beings and especially those who are marginalized, rejected, and despised, it is important for me to lend my voice to the voiceless and to speak hope into troubled situations. I was invited to lead a prayer at the Lights For Liberty Wellsboro PA event this evening. What follows are the words that I shared and the prayer that I prayed:

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Good evening.

Earlier today I read a quote by Elizabeth Gilbert, the well-known author of the book Eat, Pray, Love. As I read it, it resonated very much with my experiences as a person of faith committed to working alongside friends of a number of different faith traditions, and it goes like this:

“Those of us who are warm and dry and safe and well-fed must show up for those who are cold and wet and endangered and hungry. That’s a rule of life. Every ethical and religious and spiritual tradition in the world agrees on that rule.”

I hope that quote finds a point of resonance for you as it did for me. Before I offer a prayer, I’d like to take a moment to share with you why I am here this evening.

My choice to be present for this Lights for Liberty event is not simply about my feelings or whether I lean progressive or conservative. 

As someone whose life has been changed by the power of the love of God in Jesus, I’m here because I desire to live in a way that is faithful to the Good News of Jesus. 

Jesus himself describes the Good News of the Kingdom of God in this way: 

He quoted the prophet Isaiah in saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19)

I believe that we are all here tonight because God has placed a similar call upon our lives. Can you feel it in your heart?

This is a great joy for me as a disciple of Jesus, that I am to take the love that God has filled my heart with and let it overflow with kindness, compassion, and love for all, and especially for the most vulnerable among us.

In the church community this is called partnering with God for the salvation of the world!

What I see before me here tonight is hearts that are breaking for those who have been marginalized, despised, and rejected at the Southern US border…

…but I also see hearts that are inspired by the Spirit of God to make an impact. To lend our voices to the voiceless. To speak against policies and procedures that violate the dignity and sacred worth of human beings who happen to be immigrants seeking asylum. 

I see hearts that are prepared to speak out against those who would characterize our migrant brothers and sisters in derogatory and fear-inducing ways. According to the Christian tradition God’s justice is not a justice of retribution but of radical inclusion. The justice of God, when it is lived out says this: Let no one be excluded from the Kingdom of God; let no one be excluded from our community; let no one who is being marginalized be excluded from my sphere of compassion and justice.

As we prepare to lend our voices and our hearts, let us pray:

God of all people, you are the true light, illuminating everyone. Inspire to full expression the light of kindness, of compassion, of love, and of advocacy that you have placed within us. Empower us with inner strength by your Holy Spirit living in us. Lord our God, as we seek to partner with you in working for justice, that no one would be excluded, that all would be welcomed, valued, and loved; we acknowledge that we are faced with a big, challenging and complex situation. Believing that all things are possible with you, our God, we join our hearts lifting up these prayers:

Grant wisdom and courage to your people, loving God as we seek to do what is right.

Grant a receptive mind and spirit and a servant’s heart to our President, Donald Trump, to the President in Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, as well as to all of our leaders in government who have the power to make changes in policy and legislation.

Grant safety, wisdom, and courage to border patrol officers and others who have been appointed to serve in roles of law enforcement at our southern border. Give them eyes to see the full humanity of those who are in their care, and act accordingly.

Grant safety, wisdom, and courage to humanitarian aid workers at our southern border. For those who are at the border engaging in similar actions to what we are doing this evening, fill their hearts with your steadfast spirit, O God, that they may persevere for liberty and justice.

Lord our God, with heavy hearts we pray that your comfort and your love would embrace those who are suffering, and we entrust into your presence and care those who have died…

And mostly, loving God, we pray for your abundant blessing upon our brothers and sisters who are in the process of fleeing dangerous situations in other countries and seeking asylum in ours. 

May immigrant families remain together.

May our voices be heard and may the voices of all who are participating in this Lights for Liberty event around the world be heard so that those who have been marginalized, despised, and rejected might be welcomed into a space of sanctuary, not of confinement; and may they be granted safe passage and a new hope.

Continue your work upon us, loving God, empower us with inner strength by your Spirit, change the desires of our hearts, loving God, so our hearts beat in tune with yours; and may the changes you’re bringing about within us find expression in our living. Grant us wisdom, courage and strength as we partner with you and with each other for the sake of the task to which you call us at this hour. We pray this in the name of Jesus who is the healer of our brokenness and the hope for all the world. Amen.


(at the Lights For Liberty event with Rev. Maxine Mills!)

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