Prayers of the People August 27, 2023

Katie Lancaster standing in the Cloisters

The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

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Yours are the cloud and the breeze, yours are the heat and humidity, yours are the sparrow and goldfinch, yours are the shade trees and yours are the houseplants. Yours are the good old dogs who saunter down the block, and yours are the new puppies, all hours, howling and chewing and tumbling across our households. Yours are the children with backpacks full of new school supplies, yours are the dorm rooms filled with the worries and dreams that sit on the sacred boundary between now and then, youth, and adulthood.

Yours are the bodies that ache, yours are the days that feel unbearably long, and the ones that are over in a flash, the joy condensed into one surging afternoon.

Ours is a “chorus of chattering voices” (John O’Donohue), many-voiced, prayers urgently ping heavenward toward some other-where sense of your presence, when even now, you are within, a river of sacred presence, quiet and slow.

Find us Divine Delight. Search us Sacred Longing. Hear us God of Goodness and Mercy. We hold out to you the soreness, tenderness, irritation, discomfort, grief, and worry of this week.

Make way. Heal. Ease.

Let some part of it cease, fade away, retreat, depart. Or in some way, let your presence enter in such that our soul is full and the trouble we carry falls to pieces, collapses under the weight of your glory, if even for a moment. In the same way we hold out to you in equal measure joy, delight, and thanksgiving. For what we might count among the week’s success, for the meal shared, the friendship forged, the hurdle jumped, the challenge met.

Let our gratitude grow, so that the words that fall from us are “thanks and ever-thanks.” Let us hand over every slight and minor joy to you, so that it might, in gratitude, grow, our lives encircled in a throng of delight made possible by our very noticing.

May that same kind of soul-full joy arise even in the hardest places, where fire, drought, flood, or fierce wind endanger, jeopardize, and put at risk the lives of loved ones near and far. Let kindness pave the way. Let compassion and care rise up. In Hawaii where fire burned. In Ukraine and Sudan where war does not cease. In Jacksonville’s Dollar Store parking lot where racial hate had sorrow-filled consequences. Let there be balm. Let there be a community of love. Let there be a way through.

Be with us, O God. Be with us, mend us, hold us, and hear us as we pray: Our Father…. Amen.

August 27, 2023

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