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08.07.16 – Praying for the World With Images

Here are the words Kellye shared last night as she guided us to pray for the world using images. (Download the full liturgy here.)

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I am going to lead us now through a practice of praying for our world using pictures. The poet Naomi Shihab Nye says that images allow us to abide with one another even when we are thousands of miles apart. And what a privilege it is to be together here, abide with people from all over the country and world through images, and to present ourselves and our world to God. We’ll do this in groups and in just a moment, I’ll ask you to move your chairs so there are three or four of you in each circle.

We will go through six images and each one depicts people; and each one also depicts, in subtle ways, systems, systems that are unjust and broken, and systems that bring help to those in need.

We are going to use some prayer postures throughout, but I will guide you as we go. Keep your order of practice insert close because we will join our voices together throughout this time. But again, I will lead you. Let’s begin by preparing ourselves to pray. Would you sit in an open posture—hands open, feet flat on the floor, and your body alert, but not tense.

IMG_8275Opening Prayer:
God in heaven, with us, near us, in us, here we are, your children. We are here because we are brokenhearted by so much of what is happening in our world—the violence, divisiveness, racism, hate, terrorism, and pain. We gather together in Jesus’ name to lift up our world to you, our Creator and Sustainer.

As we join together and view the images of our world now, give us Your eyes, Your heart, and Your mind. Help us to notice what happens in us at the sight of the people and incidents we see. Help us to notice our offendedness and release that offendedness to You. Help us to notice our sadness and release that sadness to You. Help us to notice your invitation to us and join you in your restoration.

May we offer prayers to our God who made and loves every human being; and who instructs us to seek justice, exhibit mercy, and love our enemies.

Lord, hear our prayers.

 

[Picture 1 (Orlando)]

This picture shows the faces of the 49 individual sons and daughters, who were killed at the Orlando nightclub Pulse by Omar Mateen on June 12, 2016. 53 others were injured.

Let’s pray for each deeply loved man and woman in this picture, each made in the image of our loving Creator, and for those we don’t see but who are represented as well—the families of these men and women, the moms and dads, brothers and sisters; the friends; those who were terrorized and wounded. Let us pray for Omar Mateen, a man also made in the image of God. And let us pray that God’s kingdom will break through, in the midst of hatred, injustice, and broken systems in our country.

Join me now, with bowed heads to pray individually.

Silent prayer (bowed head)

God, you weep. Allow us to weep.
Open our eyes to see the pain.
Open our hearts to love the hurting.
Guide us now as we pray.

Group prayer

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

 

[Picture 2 (Turkey/France)]

These are pictures of the tragic terrorist attacks in Istanbul, Turkey and in Nice, France. In the picture on the top we see six of the 42 people who were killed on June 28th at the Istanbul airport by gunmen and suicide bombers. On the bottom, we see the aftermath of the attack in Nice, where a truck drove into a crowd killing 84 people, many of them children. One father and his 11 year old son—Sean and Brodie—died before the eyes of the rest of their family. Men, women, and children, beloved to God and to their families and friends, were killed in these attacks. Let us pray for the grieving, heavy-hearted families of the men and women we see in these pictures. Let’s pray for the workers at the airport and bystanders who were terrorized, terrified, and saw life extinguished before their eyes. Let’s pray for the unseen—the enemies—those who carried out the attacks, each one created in God’s image, each one with a story. And for the responders and the helpers. For God’s kingdom to break through.

Join me now in a silent prayer and I invite you to put your hands over your face in a posture of lament.

Silent prayer (hands over face)

God, you weep. Allow us to weep.
Open our eyes to see the pain.
Open our hearts to love the hurting.
Guide us now as we pray.

Group prayer

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

 

[Picture 3 (Timothy’s Gift-Melissa)]

Silent prayer (open hands)

God, you restore. You heal. You redeem.
Thank you for helping us see your kingdom.
Thank you for showing us how to love your children.
Guide us now as we seek to join you.

Group prayer

May your kingdom come.
May your will be done.
May your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

 

[Picture 4 (Clinton/Trump)]

This next picture is of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, our primary two presidential candidates for 2016. Look at the eyes of the two people in this picture. This woman and this man were made in God’s very image, and are so loved by God that He gave His one and only Son to give them eternal life.

Let us pray for the woman and the man in this picture, especially for the one you feel most resistance to in your mind and heart. Let us pray that God’s kingdom will break through in the midst of the divisive, vitriolic atmosphere, and the denigration that characterizes politics in our country. And let us pray that we would be examples of love and kindness so that all will know we are disciples of Jesus Christ.

Let’s bow our heads and take a moment in silence to pray.

Silent prayer (bowed head)

God, you weep. Allow us to weep.
Open our eyes to see the pain.
Open our hearts to love the hurting.
Guide us now as we pray.

Group prayer

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

 

[Picture 5 (Race in America)]

This next picture is of an African-American woman standing before a police brigade in riot gear. Let’s pray for this particular woman—for her heart, her life, her family, her community. And let us pray for the police we see—these actual police in this picture—for their lives, their families, their community. And, let us pray for what we don’t see—our African-American brothers and sisters who are hurting, being victimized, being killed, and treated unjustly because of broken, unjust systems, our biases, our judgments and fears. These lives—our African-American brothers and sisters’ lives—matter to God and they matter to us. Let’s pray for justice, for peace, for love to prevail. Let’s pray that God’s kingdom would break through.

Join me now in a posture of lament, with hands over our faces to express our lament to God.

Silent prayer (hands over face)

God, you weep. Allow us to weep.
Open our eyes to see the pain.
Open our hearts to love the hurting.
Guide us now as we pray.

Group prayer

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

 

[Picture 6 (Officer washing homeless man’s feet)]

In this picture, we see a 75-year old homeless African-American man named Quintis. He is blind and lives in Houston. With him is Sergeant Steve Wick of the Houston Police Department. He saw Quintis limping and it turned out his toenails were causing his feet significant pain. Sgt Wick brought Quintis in to allow him to shower (for the first time in several years) and then Wick knelt down, washed Quintis’ feet and cut his toenails. There are hardly words needed here, but let’s pray for Quintis, that God would bless him and keep him; for his heart and his body. Let’s pray for Sgt Wick, that God would bless him and keep him; for his heart, his family. Let’s pray for what we don’t see—all the kind acts, acts that reveal the kingdom of God here with us—Let’s pray that God would allow us to see more and more of these moments and join in with them every single chance we get.

Join me in a silent prayer of thanksgiving and praise with open hands.

Silent prayer (open hands)

God, you restore. You heal. You redeem.
Thank you for helping us see your kingdom.
Thank you for showing us how to love your children.
Guide us now as we seek to join you.

Group Prayer

May your kingdom come.
May your will be done.
May your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

 

Song refrain:

We refuse to be each other’s enemy.
We can overcome. We can overcome.
Love shall overcome. Love shall overcome.
Love shall overcome. Love shall overcome.

(“Love Shall Overcome” by The Brilliance)

 

P.S. We were not able to share the photos because of copyright laws. So sorry!

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