PRAYER FOR NAACP PRAYER VIGIL — Last Saturday (May 30, 2020) Jenny, Liz, and I went to a NAACP Prayer Vigil in Salina. The vigil was in response to the death of George Floyd and countless others. I was invited to give a prayer. Here is what I prayed:
Gracious God, you created humanity as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic family, intending that we live in peace with you and harmony with one another. We have fallen short of that vision.
Today we remember those who have suffered the most because we have fallen short of that vision. Those who have suffered even unto death. George Floyd is only the most recent in a very long list. We will name only some of them here tonight. Yet you have known them all, you have called them by name, and you will never forget them
Lord, for my black and brown siblings I pray your presence, your power, your comfort, and your consolation. Help them as they continue their journey on a long and difficult road.
Lord, help those of us who are white to choose to walk beside them. Not to turn away, but to face the truth. The hard truth that racism and prejudice are still alive and well and killing your beloved children today. Help us to face the even harder truth that things aren’t going to get better on their own.
Lord, help those of us who are privileged by the color of our skin to realize that the racism that continues to surround and dwell within us is corroding our souls, stunting our discipleship, and keeping us from you.
We know that no one can truly, fully flourish until everyone can flourish. Lord Jesus help those of us born to a place of privilege, to remain silent no longer, help us to find the strength to speak up—even to our family and our friends. Help us to act—even when doing so is unpopular. Guide us, prod us, push us to work for your justice, to strive for your righteousness, and to build for your kingdom. Amen.
Note: When I say “privileged by the color of our skin” I don’t mean that all of those of us who are white have it easy, or that our lives are a cakewalk. What I do mean is that our lives are easier than they would be if we were African American.
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May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
— by Cameron Bellm
I’ve made Psalm 46 part of my regimen for daily devotions. I’ve found that for this Psalm, and for many parts of the Bible, I prefer the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) to the Common English Bible (CEB). However, for the second verse of this Psalm, I’ve found the CEB invaluable. I’ll get to that in a minute. Here’s Psalm 46 from the NRSV:
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
This Psalm has a lot to say to my heart in the midst of a crisis, but even more when I consider the meaning of the first part of the second verse. As the CEB puts it: “That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart.” This phase isn’t meant literally (although that would also apply), but figuratively, the way we usually use it. We need not be afraid even when the world falls apart. “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.”  Psalm 46 has offered me a great deal of solace; I hope and pray that the same might be true for you.
 The exact meaning of Selah (which has been left untranslated in Hebrew) is not known, but a bit of instruction as to how the Psalm was to be sung in ancient Israel.
 From A Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada.
In this time of high anxiety, I wanted to share a prayer from one of my favorite theologians, Soren Kierkegaard:
“Teach me, O God, not to torture myself, not to make a martyr out of myself through stifling reflection, but rather teach me to breathe deeply in faith.” 
May you breath deeply in faith.
 Soren Kierkegaard, The Prayers of Kierkegaard, Edited and with a New Interpretation of His Life and Thought (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1956), 36.
Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there will be no prayer vigil on Thursday this week (March 26, 2020). I do not anticipate the vigil beginning again until we can reopen the church office to the public. I would encourage participants to pray from their homes.
It’s the first day of 2020, which is a good time to pray “A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition.”
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely give all that I am and all that I have to you.
And now, O glorious and Holy God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen. 
 There are numerous versions of this prayer floating around in books and online. Because of that variety, I’ve felt free to choose the phrases I hold best suited from several different versions. The closest thing to an authoritative version is found in The United Methodist Hymnal as number 607, but the language there is somewhat dated.
This Thanksgiving, as you gather with family and friends, I pray for you all the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
This morning (Saturday, September 29, 2018) I’m off to Emmanuel United Methodist Church here in Abilene to observe the first Great Plains chapter meeting of the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA). The WCA describes itself as an organization that “connects Spirit-filled, orthodox churches of Wesleyan theology and their members.” I can certainly get behind Spirit-filled, orthodox churches of Wesleyan theology (in orthodoxy and my love of Wesleyan theology, I yield to no one).
Unfortunately, the WCA expresses their understanding of orthodoxy by being staunchly non-affirming of LGBTQ+ folks. They are preparing for an exit if things at the special called session of General Conference in 2019 don’t go the way they want them to. As you know, I’m LGBTQ+ affirming, and I want to keep the United Methodist Church united. I’m not going to protest, I simply feel that I owe them a fair hearing. Your prayers are appreciated.
If you take time to pause and remember this day seventeen years ago, I would once again commend to you this prayer from Rev. Jeremy Pridgeon.
I just read the article in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle about the arrest in Pennsylvania of a man accused of 150 rapes in Abilene/Dickenson County between 2006-2015. I’m thankful for the dedication of the local law enforcement officers who tracked the accused down, but I’m overwhelmed by all the amount of pain present in our small community of which I’ve been completely unaware. There is suffering all over the world, including our little corner of it. I pray for the victims and those who suffer with them. Please pray with me.
“Man Accused of 150 Rapes in Abilene,” Abilene Reflector-Chronicle, June 04, 2018, accessed June 05, 2018, http://bit.ly/2xH5kmb.
I try to keep this blog focused on the life and faith of our local church, but sometimes that same faith compels to say something. Now, with yesterday’s violence in Gaza strip, is one of those times.
My understanding of the United States’ decades-long, previously bipartisan, approach to moving our embassy to Jerusalem was that it would come at the end of the peace process when the age-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians had been put to rest. Under this approach, the moving of the embassy was a “carrot” to encourage the peace process. Now without the conflict being resolved, the embassy has been moved to Jerusalem, a blatantly pro-Israel move that prompted Palestinian protests.
So far, 60 Palestinian civilians have been killed and thousands wounded. I pray for the Palestinians, I pray for the Israelis, I pray especially for the Christians in their midst, a small minority under intense pressure. I fear that the United States will never again be seen as an honest broker for peace and I pray that we can somehow regain our standing and again be able to do some good.
The idea, held by some American Christians, that the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will hasten the coming Kingdom of God is so ludicrous, that I have nothing at all to say about it. I pray for the eyes of those who believe that nonsense to be opened.