Responding in Love

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Last November, Our Saviour Episcopal Church in Silver Spring Maryland was one of two Episcopal churches defaced with hateful grafitti.  In this post, Kathy Staudt reflects on how that experience led her to create a prayer vigil for this Inauguration weekend.

 

Since I am uneasy in big crowds, I opted not to attend the Women’s March in DC, and instead to follow a strong urge I was feeling to be at prayer as this new administration comes into office.  So I reached out to some of the other prayer-ministers and members of my parish, the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Silver Spring, and we advertised a multi-cultural prayer vigil.

 

Since we were put on the map as one of the first sites of post-election racist graffiti, it seemed like a good place to assemble people for a multicultural vigil, to offer prayers for the day, and the work ahead for the nation.

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So, without much of a structure, we opened the church from 10-4. One of the women prepared a simple soup luncheon, so we could break for conversation and fellowship at midday,  and over the course of the time about 15 people came and went, mostly from Our Saviour but with a few supporters from the surrounding community.  We took turns leading prayers at the top of the hour, and followed explicit prayer times with times of sitting together in silence.  Our prayer styles ranged from meditative silence to spirit-filled singing to spontaneous prayers for the causes that were on our hearts. As the day went on, periods of silence were filled with spontaneous singing,  and people calling out hymn numbers from the Lift Every Voice & Sing hymnals we had in the pews. “We’re Marching to Zion,”  “Leaning on the Everlasting Arm, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; because He lives, all fear is gone.”  “My anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock.”    Being in the company of people who are gifted “prayer-warriors” was a rich gift to me, and I was glad to have thought of gathering in this place, on this day. I contributed by opening and closing the proceedings and also produced a litany based on the vision statement from the Women’s March organizers.  We prayed that together – and several people commented that they’d like to take it home and use it further, so I’m also posting it here in case other prayer or worshipping groups find it useful.

 

We also offered prayers of thanksgiving, coming out of time spent looking through the many, many supportive cardsstaudt 3 and letters that had come to Our Saviour after the graffiti incident in November, messages from all over the country:  California, Ohio, Kentucky, Colorado, Illinois as well as from near neighbors in the Muslim and Jewish communities and other schools and churches in our area  I suggested that people read through and bless those whose notes we read, as I do when I read through my Christmas cards:  it was a good way to remember how many people in our country have good hearts and are drawn to compassion and solidarity.  The Women’s March also reflected that,  strong solidarity, and so the prayer vigil was for us gathered there a profound experience of contemplation and action. I hope that this practice of prayer, undergirding and supporting political activism, will continue to provide us with strength for the work ahead.

 


 

The Litany inspired by the Women’s March

O God our Creator, you made us male and female in your image and love us as we are.  We ask your blessing on all who are marching today to declare that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights.  Grant that this message may guide those who now have the power to shape our nation’s policies, and keep us steadfast in upholding the dignity of all.

Guide us and strengthen us, O God of love and justice

 

O Holy One, you call us to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with you.  We pray for Economic Justice in our society and throughout the world.  Help us to work for a world in which all women may all be able to care for and nurture their families unhindered by culture and structures of control.  Guide and inspire our leaders, we pray, and give us energy and determination to seek economic justice for all.

Guide us and strengthen us, O God of love and justice

 

Oh loving One, who yearns to gather us together as a mother hen broods over her children: you grieve with those who are victims of violence and judge those who inflict such violence.  Give us grace to work diligently for the elimination of all violence, and especially to create a world where all women and girls are safe from physical violence, rape and exploitation.

Guide us and strengthen us, O God of love and justice

 

Loving Creator, you delight in the diversity of all the peoples of the earth and call us to seek justice for all.  Have mercy on all victims of our broken criminal justice system, and especially on people of color who are disproportionately affected, for those who are incarcerated and threatened by police violence and by gang violence.  Give us courage to dismantle the “school to prison pipeline” that puts incarceration before education, and funnels our children  – especially children of color, queer and trans youth, foster care children, boys and girls, into the justice system.

Guide us and strengthen us, O God of love and justice

 

O God of healing and wholeness,  We pray for a society that promotes Gender Justice, giving equal access to non-judgmental, comprehensive healthcare  for all gender identities, and full reproductive choice for all women, regardless of their wealth or poverty or the state they live in.   Give us the heart and the courage to work diligently for equal justice in all aspects of health care.

Guide us and strengthen us, O God of love and justice.

 

We pray for justice in employment, for equal pay for equal work for women,  for the just and equitable treatment of all caregivers, for a living wage for all workers, and for the work of unions and others who work in solidarity for the rights of workers.

Guide us and strengthen us, O God of love and justice.

 

We pray for vigilance in the protection of the Civil Rights of all, gained through the struggle of so many.  Keep us strong in our resistance to any threat to voting rights, to the rights of free speech, freedom of worship, and protections for all, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation,gender identity, age, or disability.

Guide us and strengthen us, O God of love and justice

 

God of compassion, you have brought so many of us safely to these shores, and you have blessed this nation with the gifts of immigrants from all over the earth.  Keep us vigilant in compassion, that this may be a nation that preserves the rights of all immigrants and that welcomes migrants fleeing from crisis-ridden parts of the world.   Help us to know that no human being is “illegal,” but all of us are your children, brothers and sisters in your love

Guide us and strengthen us, O God of love and justice

 

O God, you have given us this good earth to tend and steward.  Grant us strength and determination, in the days ahead, to work diligently for the protection of our environment, that everyone may have access to clean air and clean water and to the enjoyment of public lands.  Preserve us from the greed and shortsightedness of the few, and guide us to become a nation mindful of the gift of our natural resources and committed to the health of “this fragile earth, our island home.”

Guide us and strengthen us, O God of love and justice

 

Lord Jesus, in this time of transition and division in our nation, we pray for strength to be true to your calling to us, that we may persevere in prayer and learning, in resisting evil, in repenting and returning to you whenever we fall short.   We pray for wisdom to discern your will, and grace to proclaim the Good News of your saving love for all races, nations, and genders, to seek and serve You in all people, and to strive unceasingly for justice and peace, respecting the dignity of every human being.  Help us to remember, in the words of your servant St. Teresa, that

You have no body now on earth but ours,

No hands, no feet on earth but ours.

 

Help us to know that ours are the eyes through which You look compassion on this world.

Ours are the feet with which you walk to do good. Let ours be the hands through which you bless all the world. 

 

Ours are the hands, ours are the feet, ours are the eyes.  We are your body.

Help us to be Your body, your presence, bearing the lght of hope for this struggling world.

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