Lord God, why do we insist on putting boundaries on your limitless love? You create us and call us good, made in your image even, and yet we refuse to see each other as the beloved children You claim us to be. Forgive us when we fail to see You in each person we meet. Forgive us when instead of saying, “They are good,” we assume they are bad and somehow outside the purview of Your care and ours.
Help us, Heavenly Father, to notice those thoughts that creep into our consciousness: judgments, assumptions, disdain or even hate. Suspend our prejudices and open our eyes to the very good, God-created, Christ-sustained, Spirit-infused world in which you have placed us. Guide us, Mothering God, in the ways of peace, compassion and mercy, especially to those with whom we are least inclined to like.
Risen Christ, if we are on any journeys of persecution, please stop us cold, render us helpless, send us guides and removed the scales from our eyes. Interrupt our false righteousness and give us hearts for love alone.
We pray this day for all those whose belovedness has been rendered invisible by the actions of others. We pray for worshippers struck down leaving their mosque in London. We remember Nabra, the Muslim teenager killed on her way home from evening prayers. We pray for Charleena’s family and Philando’s, too, and all of those families grieving in the wake of police shootings. We lift up the Warmbiers as they prepare to bury a son they waited a year and half to welcome home.
We pray, too, for the perpetrators of violence, knowing that they also are beloved and never beyond redemption. We ask for the wisdom to see clearly and remember rightly all of those who suffer. We plead for justice even as we acknowledge our feeble attempts at working on behalf of the vulnerable and oppressed. We beg for reconciliation knowing that true joining comes only through taking up our cross and following Jesus.
Spirit of the Living God, remind us of all that Jesus taught his disciples. Give us the promised words to speak. Grant us the courage to not be afraid – of others, of evil, of scarcity, of difference, of anything in all creation. Overwhelm us with the perfect love that casts out fear so that we will see all of the world, and everyone in it, as made in Your image, beloved by You and declared very good. Never let us forget that each person we encounter is one for whom Christ died and then help us treat everyone accordingly.