Lunchtime Prayer

Someone asked me to pray the invocation prayer at a professional development lunch today. The Mid-South Minority Business Council sponsored a 2 day converence on “Economic Development”, nearly 600 people gathered in the Memphis Convention Center.

I offered a blessing at the final meal. I wrestled with my words before our gathering. What kind of prayer should be recited among ambituous professionals? More importantly, what kind of prayer should we pray in the spirit of ‘economic devlopment’ as our culture battles an epidemic of greed and consumerism?

It seems to me that we desperately need our leaders to be rooted in integrity. We need decision-makers to find strength in gospel ethics of generosity, grace, and love.

I said one little prayer at this lunch today. But so many more prayers need to be said. So many more need to be shouted as we look to our future…

Living God, we celebrate your grace and mercy today. In this room, we see your divine design. Hundreds of creative, ambitious and thoughtful professionals, striving to reach their potential are gathered here. Today, we see a glimpse of our kingdom-potential.

We know you created each of us, fearfully and wonderfully. You knit us together in the depths of the earth. We were made to thrive. We were made to shape community. We were made to inspire this aching world.

Give us the focus and energy to make a difference with our lives.

Give us the wisdom to use our gifts to bring compassion and hope to our neighbors.

Give us the humility to praise you for all our potential and all of our success.

We are here to listen and to learn. Guide us and direct us as we approach this day with wonder. Amen.

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The Perseid Meteor Shower

(Copyright © 2012 Sarah Taylor Peck. All Rights Reserved.)

+ Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

This weekend is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower.

If you stay up way past your bedtime and gaze into the night sky, you will see these little bright particles falling through the stars. At this peak time, you can see a meteor fall every minute.

We can trace the earliest watchers of the Perseid shower to the far east. For two thousand years, people have watched this magical light show in the middle of August. All over the world, families stay up late into the night, huddled on porch swings and next to camp fires, waiting and watching and wishing on these glowing pieces of hope in summer sky.

Many followers of the Catholic faith refer to these meteors as “The tears of St. Lawrence”. Catholics often think of St. Lawrence as the saint of the holy chalice because religious lore tells us that the chalice Christ and his disciples used at the last supper was given to Lawrence as a gift.

As Disciples of Christ, we use the image of the chalice to mark our identity, so I like to think of St. Lawrence as a kindred spirit to Disciples.

This weekend, during the Perseid meteor shower, the tears of St. Lawrence will fall.

Recently, at my church, we all know a little too much about falling tears. In this time of confusion, I keep coming back to this passage in gospel of Matthew:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

That word  heavy  pierces me every time I read it.

Heavy.

Heavy.

So many people I know and love are carrying a heavy load right now. The weight of our grief, and the weight of our fear, and the weight of our broken hearts, all piled on to our meek shoulders.

In our church,we are crushed by the weight of division. We’re struggling through separation and brokenness within Christ’s body … and this weight is agony.

When we feel this heaviness on our shoulders, we are pushed to doubt.

Right now in our community, there are people who feel hurt by the church. There are those who feel angry. There are those who feel frustrated. There are those who feel cut off from their family of faith. And, I imagine, there are those who question the core of their beliefs in this troubling time.

Where is the God of transformation and renewal? Where is the Gospel of grace?

But the good news is this: even when we begin to think that our pain and our doubt are separating us from our faith- we remember the cross. These moments of doubt or pain or hurt do not put us on the outside of our faith, instead, we are at the very heart of Christianity. And we can stay at the cross as long as we need to.

At the Cross, Christ went before us, to the place of heavy burdens and aching spirits and deep hurt.

At the cross, Christ went ahead of us to these places of vulnerability and fear.

We are not betraying our faith when we hurt. Instead, we are just lingering at the cross. And it’s alright to weep. It’s alright to question. It’s alright to cry out.

But the best news of our faith is this: We are resurrection-believing Christians, so we know the cross is not the end. We know the darkness can never overcome the light.

These moments of grief and hurt will pass because Christ has said to us: come to me, all of you who are burdened, I am gentle, and I will give you rest.

This weekend is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Some people like to think of falling meteors as the tears of St. Lawrence, the saint of the holy chalice. But today, I’m praying through a different metaphor.

I pray that everyone who is hurting will make their way outside at night with someone they love this weekend and turn their eyes to the heavens. I want all of us to gaze at those bright beams of hope above us and I pray that we remember the words from the gospel of Matthew:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

With every single meteor that falls, I want us to picture our gracious and loving God peeling these heavy weights from our shoulders and releasing them into the sky. I picture God taking our darkness and transforming it to light across that summer air.

I pray that each of us feel our Creator unloading our burdens and whispering these words: come to me all you who are burdened, I am gentle, and I will give you rest. Amen.

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