a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

POP–break us open

Oh God, we come to prayer this day
with no words…
hearts heavy, minds reeling,
fear and grief and anger and hopelessness and resistance
all mingling together
and blocking the things we want and need to say.

And yet you are still God.
We cannot comprehend why these things happen…
Ask us why.
We cannot seem to believe you
when you say we are one body, neighbors with near and far…
Ask us why.
And keep asking, in the silence of our hearts and the conversations of our lives,
until we see you face to face—
in every face.

We lift up to you those who grieve this day—
whose family and friends have been ripped from them
by violence,
by illness,
by cultural complacency.
We pray especially for the families of Mother Emanuel church,
and for their two remaining pastors.
May your spirit of comfort surround them,
even as your spirit of righteousness burns in their broken hearts.
May they know your powerful presence,
and be strengthened as their ancestors in that place were strengthened
to stand up for what is right,
to stand together with all who enter,
to stand firm in your promise that one day all tears will be wiped away,
and in that day we will see the truth that we belong to each other.

We pray also this day for ourselves.
May our eyes be opened to recognize you—even in people who look nothing like us.
May our hearts be opened to love as you love—without reservation or requirement.
May our minds be opened to the reality of this world and our place in it—without defensiveness.
And when you have broken us open,
pour in your Spirit of justice and truth, of transformation and peace.
Where we insist on putting the pieces back together,
provoke our imaginations to new possibilities,
and frustrate our self-preserving goals.
Melt us and mold us, however uncomfortable or painful it may be,
then fill us and use us to be agents of transformation in this world.

We pray reluctantly, and boldly, and fearfully, and hopefully—
my kingdoms go, Lord.
Our kingdoms of entitlement, our kingdoms of self-sufficiency, our kingdoms of privilege, our kingdoms of individualism, our kingdoms of helplessness, our kingdoms of self-righteousness,
whatever kingdoms we have sworn allegiance to, or built for ourselves, or used to hide in…
our kingdoms go,
and may your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Come Quickly, Lord.

We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, the One who sat down at the margins, worked to overthrow the empire, and taught us to pray together, Our father…


Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

POP–after Charleston

Oh God, Oh God, Why have you forsaken me?

Jesus cries out from the Cross, and the Psalmist cries out from the depth of despair. But, we your faithful people know that you are never far from our cries. You were with Christ upon the Cross, you were with the Psalmist in the darkness, and you were with the 9 victims in Charleston. You weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn.

We remember those who were murdered on holy ground – in your very house – and we pray that they are raised as saints eternal…

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Reverend Clementa Pinckney
Cynthia Hurd
Tywanza Sanders
Myra Thompson
Ethel Lee Lance
Daniel L. Simmons
Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor
Susie Jackson

Welcome these beloved children into your glorious kingdom.

We pray for the Community of Mother Emmanuel AME Church. We pray for the families, the friends, and the community shaken by this terrible crime. God, you are never far from the words of our groaning; send your spirit of comfort and healing upon Charleston.

We pray for all victims of racially-motivated violence. We pray especially for Haitians in the Dominican Republic, who too are targeted as victims of racial violence; and for the Church of Fishes and Loaves in the West Bank who were attacked by arsonists. God, do not be far from your children in their time of trouble.

God we pray for our community leaders and our national leaders. Give them a spirit of boldness, that they may be willing to confront this giant of racism. Give them hearts full of righteousness and yearning for justice.

We are poured out like water. Our hearts are like wax and melt in our chests.
Send your peace upon us, O God. Send your spirit of wisdom that we may see the ways we participate in sinful systems. Give us the courage to confront our own complacency, and the strength to change.

Merciful God, we pray even for our enemies. We pray for those who hurt and harm. We pray for Dylan Roof, and other like him, that you may break their hearts. That you make take their hearts of stone and replace it with a heart of repentance and love. We pray that you deliver those who are mangled by hate from themselves, and give them a spirit of resurrection.

God of all nations and families, we pause and in silence lift the prayers of our hearts up to you…

God you are the deliverer of the nations. You are proclaimed from every corner of the earth. Hear our prayers, our petitions, and lamentations that we turn over to you, our refuge and our rock. We pray all things in the name of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, Amen.

Rev. Laura Brekke, Santa Clara University chaplain, Santa Clara, CA