This is, in full, the prayer I prayed at 11:00 on Sunday. It includes words from the sonnet “The New Colossus” by the American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887) which was written in 1883. It also includes a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from his “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”
Righteous, just, and merciful God, we gather here in your name this day to praise you for your goodness, your generosity, and your love for all of humankind, and for your affectionate, intimate love for each of us. You truly know us as we are, and still you love us. We turn away from you, yet in your grace, you pursue us.
We gather here, in the sure and certain hope of your steadfast lovingkindness, to lift up our needs before you. We pray for those who are sick and in need of your healing. We pray for those who are grieving and in need of your comfort, those who are dying and in need of your hope. We pray for sinners in need of your redeeming, and for those who doubt who are in need of your light. We pray for the anxious who are in need of your peace. We pray for men and women in the armed forces, especially those who are deployed away from loved ones, and we pray for all people who work for peace and justice throughout the world.
We pray for Reveille United Methodist Church, for Love Center of Unity, for Koinonia Christian Church, and for the church universal, for our leaders and for your Spirit to bind all Christians together with strong cords that cannot be broken.
We pray for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of other shores. We pray that you may send these homeless, these tempest-tossed to those who know you, that we may lift our lamps beside your golden doors as beacons of light and freedom for those who your word teaches posses lives worth no less than our own, and save us, O Lord, from the hopelessness and indifference that tarnish our alabaster cities, that extinguish our light to the nations.
We pray for the flotillas, for the overloaded vessels, for the lonely sojourners crossing the wilderness at night, for families rent asunder by walls of indifference constructed from the splintered planks of broken political platforms. We pray for children washed upon empty beaches, and for innocent civilians who wait and watch and weep this day for help and refuge that will not come.
And, O merciful Savior, we pray for you to save us from the idolatry that teaches that our reserves of strength, that our ability to affect change can only be found within ourselves, as though we are a people without hope, and remind us, O Lord, that our hope comes not from our own power, not from our own might, but from the you, who teaches us that you were, are, and always shall be found amidst the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the stranger, and the prisoner.
Save us from the small-mindedness that teaches that we are our only hope. Save us from the false narrative that teaches that there is no hope, and may your people hear your voice crying out from the wilderness of despair with a word of grace that proclaims “Seek me among the least, the last, and the lost, and you will find me, and you will find your own life, and that which all my disciples are called to discover, the call to participate in the redemption of the world, borne of the purchase of your souls, for human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability, but from the tireless efforts of women and men willing to be coworkers with God.
May it be so in us, through us, throughout our lives and our life and witness together, world without end. Amen.