Together in Solidarity -- Prayers During a Pandemic
The world watched as protesters, some of them armed, pushed their way in the capitol building in Lansing, Michigan. At least some of this group were part of White Supremacist and militia groups. It was a sad picture that I don't think represents the majority of people in Michigan. Last Sunday, a group of us gathered online to produce a set of prayers for the community. We were Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian (me). We called our effort, sponsored by the Intercultural Association of Michigan: "Together in Spiritual Solidarity." At least for me, this gathering represents the best of our community, people reaching across religious lines to support one another and pray for the community. Each of us prayed from within our traditions.
As this is the National Day of Prayer, and normally the Troy-area Interfaith Group, of which I have been a leader, would be meeting tonight bringing together prayers from across our diverse religious landscape, I offer up the prayer I shared on Sunday. At the top of the post is the YouTube Video we recorded on Sunday. It takes about 30 minutes to watch. You will hear the prayers offered by Ed, Oghuzan, Padma, and me, with Yunus guiding us along the way. My friend Ali put it all together. For that, I am greatly thankful. I believe you will be blessed by watching it. Solidarity is what we need. Our faith traditions, at their best, proclaim that message. On this National Day of Prayer, might these be the kinds of prayers that stir our hearts toward building true community in difficult times.
God of Love, Grace, and Mercy,
We come before you today representing different communities of faith. We seek to be of one mind and one heart in this time of crisis. We have seen the forces that are at work in our midst seeking to divide us by creating an atmosphere of fear. We come here at this moment, to stand against these forces and to stand in solidarity with one another. We confess that we are growing weary at having to wear masks and stay physically distanced from one another. We confess that we worry about the future. We wonder whether this pandemic will subside so we can return to school and work and worship and play.
Oh, to sit down once again with one another for a hearty conversation over coffee or a meal. Oh, to go to the grocery store without fear of coming to close to another person. As summer approaches, we have places to go and people to see. But we don’t know whether we’ll be able to fulfill these dreams.
We live with uncertainty. We have our doubts and our questions. Nevertheless, we hear you calling to us, inviting us to abide with you. We hear the invitation to entrust our lives into your hands. We are reminded that you are the Good Shepherd, who leads us through dark valleys. So, open our eyes and our ears so we might follow you to that place of rest and safety. Yes, Lord, may we find in you a word of encouragement.
Even as our faith communities have gathered virtually, rather than in person, we gather today in a virtual format to join in offering prayers. Although we may have different theologies and practices, we seek to be in solidarity with one another. We pray that our gathering in this form will encourage others to join together in solidarity with their neighbors, reaching across religious lines.
I pray to you in the name of Jesus, through whom and in whom I draw close to you. It is as a follower of Jesus, that I join my friends in prayer for our community. Together we pray for all who put their lives on the line for us. We pray for those who have gotten sick. We pray for those who have died and for those who grieve. We know that many are experiencing forms of PTSD because there is no relief for them.
We lift up in prayer the first responders and medical personnel. We lift up those who have been deemed essential workers. We lift up those who have been laid off or have lost their jobs. We pray for students and the elderly, may they find encouragement in these difficult times as well.
Even as we find ourselves growing weary, may we find the inner strength so that we might be patient with one another, whether with members of our family or the people we encounter out in the world. Let us remember that we are all in this together, and may we truly embody the command to love our neighbors as we love our selves.
I ask this in the name of Jesus, asking that we would find solidarity with one another, so we might embody your love and grace in all that we do. Amen.