As part of our Lent series, “Through My Neighbor’s Eyes,” we’re engaging in a series of conversations  with our marginalized neighbors.  These conversations are an invitation to take the first step in loving our neighbors by seeing through their eyes. Through hearing their stories, lamenting Christianity’s role in their marginalization, and praying for a just future together, we are becoming more of ourselves and more of who God made us to be. These are those prayers: 

   

Prayers for the Native American

March 5, 2017

 

Please join me for the Prayers of the people.  During Lent we are making time and space to integrate Lament into our worship and hear from different voices in our community.  Today we focus on the Native American Perspective. Lament is the Christian word for crying out to God about the pain in our lives and the injustices in the world.  God teaches us that lament is the proper response to a broken world…It’s God’s way of giving us permission in our relationship with him to process grief and practice mourning.

As we pray, when I say “Lord in your mercy” please respond with “hear our prayer”

We will finish with the Lord’s Prayer. Please join me now.

Dear God, if you love us so much, why do we suffer like this? It is all too easy for us humans to mistake your silence for absence. Have you rejected us? Are you angry at us? Why do we hurt each other? Why do we have to deal with trauma? Whether we are victims or perpetrators of injustice, we face pain that echoes and ripples through the centuries. Generations upon generations inherit these burdens.

Lord, your likeness, the image of God, is in all of your creation. Then why, oh God, have Native Americans been told over and over again by the church and this nation that they are less than human? Institutionalized and systematized racism silences this truth and perpetuates the pain of your people.

God, remember what has happened to Native Americans in this land over the past 500 years since the white man started their brutal conquest and colonization. War, conflict, slavery, rape, and ethnic cleansing have been inflicted upon the Native Americans and have been justified in the name of God by the Christian church. We acknowledge that this is a history whose shame we bear as Americans and particularly as members of the church today. God, we confess our complicity in the present day struggles against injustice and battles with historical trauma that our Native American brothers and sisters face.

History was taught to us with a white man’s bias. We confess God, that we have not taken our own initiative and spent time to talk to people of native origin, to hear their stories and to seek out resources to relearn our history from a Native perspective. We have refused to listen to different voices and have hidden from our shame.

When we feel proud of American ideals of liberty and justice for all, God, open our eyes to see and understand that these ideals are not reality for the Native American people.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

God, look and see what is still plaguing the Native American people as a result of the injustices in this country.  Threatened cultural identities, lost languages, an ingrained sense of inferiority, alcoholism, sexual abuse, poverty, stolen lands, ill-treatment of mother nature and sacred sites. Lord, the historical, inherited and ongoing traumas are too much for one people to bear.

Native American women and children experience the highest rates of sexual abuse per capita in our nation. Rape and sexual abuse were originally tools of war and conquest. Today they are lamentable symptoms of hundreds of years of hurt.

Indian Boarding Schools… where children were torn from their families and communities to be turned into non-natives, to teach or often beat the “heathen Indian” out of them…racial, cultural and spiritual inferiority shoved into their minds. Children lost their language and were coerced to reject being the very people they were created to be by you oh God… We lament generations of traumatized children separated from their families and their true identities.

Standing Rock & Dakota Access Pipeline…where Native peaceful protests, prayers and ceremonies declare “water is life” and “you can’t drink oil”. Once again Native Americans are told they are sub-human and that their lives matter less than white lives. The pipeline was rerouted to avoid a predominantly white community, but the same request from the native community was rejected. Protesters were considered a threat to national security, meet with tanks and water cannons.

Our hearts weep with those in our community that know and live these sufferings.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

God we trust that you meet us here in this season of Lent, of self-reflection and of Lament. We ask you to shed light on darkness in the lived experiences of Native Americans in our midst.

You created the native people of this land, these are your people, these are our brothers and sisters on this journey. We long for wholeness, for understanding, for healing and for forgiveness. We long for our eyes to be opened and for justice and beauty. You created this diverse world.  It is through your Grace God that we come to you in prayer and ask that you renew our hope, bring us back to you, and we beg that your WILL would be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

 

Prayers for our African American family

March 12, 2017

We come to you this second Sunday of Lent in prayer for African Americans in our country. For hurt experienced by the hands of this country, by the hands of neighbors and by the hands of the church, Lord, we repent.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Lord, we pray for the deep, deep struggle of African Americans in this country. We recognize that the history and progress of this country is inextricably tied to the suffering of our brothers and sisters. We pray for forgiveness and progress. We yearn to create positive relationships and ties so that when one brother or sister weeps, we all weep. We pray that suffering can be recognized and that experiences of hatred and fear can be redeemed.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Lord, we pray for forgiveness as neighbors of African Americans in our city. Teach us to listen while not touting solutions. Teach us to stand with those in the fire and forgive us for standing by in shock. Lord, give us courage. Give us courage to listen and learn about the experiences of our African American neighbors and let our hearts be open to conversation rather than putting up barriers to dialogue.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

God, we recognize that the church has not been the hand of feet of Jesus in the fight for justice. Forgive us. Give our hearts courage to not remain silent inwardly and outwardly. Stir in our hearts a desire for Your kingdom come and Your will be done.  Lord, as we watch our brothers and sisters experience suffering, let us as a church to come forward with our minds and resources for change. Lord help us to not lose hope but let us come before you in prayers to repent, listen and love.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Prayers for our Muslim Neighbors

March 26, 2017

 

Close your eyes and imagine a man or a woman.  Think of an image of this person in your mind.

What are her dreams for her family?  What are his dreams for his community and country?

What are God’s dreams for his family?  What are God’s dreams for her community and country?

Now imagine this man or woman praying.

Now imagine them praying in a mosque.

Does God hear their cries and prayers?

Does God care about their dreams, their family and their community and country?

Now open your eyes.

Yes, the answer is yes.  Acts 10:1-35 reveals that God knows their names.  God hears their cries.  God cares about their dreams, their families, their communities, and their countries.

Dear Heavenly Father, we lament, our hearts ache at the injustice and intolerance that the Muslim community faces in the US.  We lament the violence and war that many face in their home countries.  In the US, many Muslims are fearful of prejudice or injustices directed against them because of their religion, or how they look, or where they were born.  For Muslims from Iraq and Syria, they fear threats to their safety that we cannot even imagine.  The sectarian and civil warfare, the suicide bombings, the kidnappings, the bombs.  Their children’s night terrors and gaunt, hungry faces.  Then, when they seek refuge in another country, they may be turned away, out of our own fear of the stranger, or the inconvenience that it may cause us.

Where we have not stood up for our Muslim neighbors, where we have not linked arms in their journey for peace and acceptance and safety, we are deeply sorry.  Forgive us.

We must open our hearts and ears and minds and listen to those that YOU listen to.  Love those whom you love.  You hear the prayers and cries from people of every corner of the world, whether they be in America, Iraq, or Syria, whether they be in a church, temple, mosque, or prayer room.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Prayer of Lament for the Immigrant

April 2, 2017

Lord, we lament the plight of the immigrant in America and around the world. We lament stolen labor, culture, identity, and language when the idea of American is upheld above all else. We lament the idea of America’s melting pot- for if we are forced to melt together, the special parts that make us each individuals are lost. May we all remember that we worship you and not this country. Thank you for making us each individuals and may we remember to cherish the differences in the people we meet.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

Father, we lament the pervasive fear within the immigrant population. We particularly grieve the burden of fear held by the undocumented individuals in our communities. Living in a constant state of fear is not the way a human body is meant to function. We hear the stories of how that is affecting families around our county and our hearts break. We also lament the fear of the other and a scarcity mindset that is a leading cause to the hostile political and cultural climate. May we in your church be peace-bringers and change-seekers in a fearful world. May we remember that you are a God of abundance so we can welcome all we come into contact with. What we cannot change, we submit to you, Lord. You are a God of power and we ask that you change the divisive political and cultural climate we are living in.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

Lord, forgive me for the apathy I have had towards this issue in the past. This is nothing new and yet I have displayed a deafening silence for years. We lament the ways we as a culture, and specifically as a church, have turned blind eyes, or worse perpetuated harmful language, stereotypes, and exclusion. We lament the words illegal, alien, and all other derogatory terms used the rob immigrants of their humanity. May we do better. May we, who are US American citizens, see the privilege of our citizenship. May we leverage that privilege in this current climate, however you call us. Whether that be in the ways we spend money, speak with others and how we listen. God, I want to be a better advocate. I want us to be better advocates. Give all of us courage to not shrink back when it becomes hard or inconvenient. Be with those who are fighting for the immigrant population on the front lines in churches, at non-profits, in courtrooms, and in Washington.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

Father, may we remember what Forgive Us, the book acting as our Lenten devotion, says: this is more than a social, economic or legal issue; this is a humanitarian and spiritual issue. Thank you for your heart for the stranger, the immigrant and the marginalized. May we model ourselves after you and remember that you care about people on this earth more than we could ever imagine.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

Prayers for our LGBTQ Neighbors

April 9, 2017

Jesus, we come before you to lament how the church has treated your people with a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer identity. You are so clear that to be human is to be made in your image and worthy of love and belonging. We confess that the church’s missteps here have been at times intentional and at times indirect. We recognize that while the church wants to be a community of radical love and forgiveness, we often have hidden fears or judgments about our neighbors. We lament that those underlying fears and judgments have often excluded our LGBTQ neighbors from being embraced in the message of your love.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Jesus, we lament the experience that we have allowed for people with an LGBTQ identity who have grown up in the church or have been involved in ministry of some sort. We have often, directly or indirectly, asked them to hide and deny parts of themselves to fit in. We have taken their gifts, service, and leadership, and yet withheld the fullness of being known and loved in community. We confess that the church has even cast out previously beloved members of the community when this aspect of their identity becomes known. We lament that we have encouraged fear of being known, rather than an embrace of the whole self. Lord, we lament that in this failure, we missed the opportunity to commit to and journey with our LGBTQ neighbors seeking you in their lives.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Jesus, we lament the broader confusion of the church interpreting scripture on human sexuality. Specifically, we lament that the work of investigating scripture has at times held us back from being loving to our neighbor. In the face of tragedy like the Pulse Nightclub shooting, our uncertainty in interpretation may have led us to offer less love to the wounded and hurting.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Jesus, we lament the long and ugly history here. We thank you for our family in the LGBTQ community who have continued to walk with you and trust you, even though they have been deeply wounded by your people. We beg you for a way forward, a new vision from the kingdom of heaven to know your heart, interpret your word, and trust you to fully live out the kingdom on earth.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer