Sunday, June 18, 2017

Today's prayers -- hunger, fathers, mental health, and family


Many hours of today were hard, but I am grateful today for: 
  • A brief chat with Loren, in the church lobby (lobby? narthex? foyer? It's an area with some sort of name.)
  • Pool time with friends, and giggles as lemons were smashed into an ancient juicer
  • Feeling refreshed after a shower
  • Sara Evans' song "A Little Bit Stronger" -- such a YES anthem
  • MAX, who's been very forthright about his lap rights this day
  • Getting to see my boyfriend soon, after a very long week of mostly not seeing him
  • A calm, sage talk with Michelle, who told me about brain things and let me talk about feelings
  • A big glass of 2% milk
  • A good chat with Dad on the phone
I considered writing the afternoon away today, but decided it would be too isolating, so I invited myself over to a friend's pool instead. (They graciously accepted my very humble invitation). I got these prayers written before church, though, at my favorite "home office," Panera. Read/pray along if you please, and be well. Xox

For a morning of sunshine, with its dandelion yellow that paints sidewalks and patches of carpet, we give thanks. Though our faces may feel bleary from a late night and we fear we won’t get a nap later to fix it, let us rest in this space here now. For another week of life, we give thanks. Whether we chased kids on jungle gyms, sat in shiny boardrooms, or dusted off that screenplay that we’ve been scared to resurrect, we are grateful for our energy and our breath. May we build each other up now in this holy home, so that we can go out, confident in the children you carved us each to be.

As we gather around your table today and all the weeks to come, let us remember all those who are hungry. Guide us in serving the thousands of homeless individuals in our city, and help us keep an eye out for those who may just need a little extra cash for groceries. Help us care for those who hunger deeply for a best friend, for a lover, for marriage, for children, for a dream job, for fame, and for all the other things that come on that exhausting laundry list of things that we think will fix us in and of themselves. From the gifts that we do have, let us share from our reserves to feed those who ache, to quiet the grumble in their belly and in their heart.

Today we give thanks for all of the fathers in our lives. For the ways in which they teach us to be kind, for the way they care for our mothers and our siblings, for the very true fact that they can be grumpy but they can also be the first to let loose in laughter and we can’t help but follow along. We ask that you hold especially close today those whose dad is no longer here, or who never really could be here, for whatever reason. As BBQ smells waft through the air, batting around Fathers’ Day balloons, give the hurting a good book to read, a musical verse to play in their ears, and a hand to hold.

We ask that you continually wrap your arms around those who struggle with mental health struggles. Bring them into the hands of quality doctors, into medication if needed, to therapists, loving friends, good listeners. Give them a voice to speak their pain and to speak their triumphs. Let them know that not only are they not alone, but they are in so much more company than they ever thought possible. If we can ask for one thing this morning, let it be all the grace you can spare up there. Give us grace for ourselves. Let us not beat ourselves up for feeling sad, or anxious, or just moody in general. And give us grace for each other, so that we don’t lose strength in this most valiant race you have us running, for loving You and your people.

For the Bibles that sit in these pews, we give thanks. Though the words can be confusing or even harrowing, some of them are gorgeous and sweet as honeycomb – oozing slow, sticking to our fingers and our tongues with what we know is just so RIGHT. In the Psalms, we are reminded that our God sets the lonely in families. While we may not have come from an easy childhood, may our prayer be this morning that everyone here find a family here at Bethel. Find family in Jesus. Find family at work, in Los Angeles, in the world. Give us sisters to do our hair, brothers to mess it up, and cousins to ride bikes with, flying down the streets with abandon.

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