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A prayer for the broken - Saint James Church

A prayer for the broken

Today’s service was unusual. James did not give us the message he had planned. Instead, he talked about the power of prayer and had us move inside the sanctuary to pray for whatever was on our hearts. I found the experience particularly moving as I prayed with another person in front of the cross in the foyer. I am always amazed at the power of brokenness to connect people. Both my prayer partner and I have wounds that refuse to heal, as many of us do. I found great comfort in our shared tears and in God’s overwhelming love that was so tangible in that moment. The experience reminded me that there is nothing special about my own suffering. We each carry pain with us. Both pleasure and pain are part of life. But it is a life we can live finding comfort and joy in each other, in the beauty that surrounds us, and in the overwhelming love of God manifested in the person of Jesus.

And so, this blog entry is for anyone who is suffering and has forgotten. Forgotten the warmth of the sun or the warmth of another’s touch. Forgotten what it is like to feel connected to another human being or to God. Forgotten laughter and joy. This is for you, and for me. It is for anyone in the desert feeling isolated or afraid, angry or hurt.

Remember…

Remember that Jesus was tortured and died on a cross, rejected and betrayed. He prayed for a different result and did not get it. Our God understands suffering. He was also broken. He shares your pain and walks with you in it.

Remember that none of us deserve our pain any more or any less than others who suffer. Pain is not punishment and happiness is not reward. The sun shines and the rain pours on the just and the unjust alike. Pain is part of life. You can’t avoid it by being good enough.

Remember that God is not the cause of suffering. In a simple theology, God is all-powerful and everything is part of God’s plans. With such thinking, only God is to blame when things go wrong. Darkness thrives under those conditions. God is the source of love and light. When our hurt turns to blame, it keeps us away from both.

Remember that you are not alone. The world is filled with broken people. Our own pain is so personal that we forget it is something we all share. You are not its special target. Let it make you more empathetic to others, not more self-absorbed. It is something that connects us, but it can have the opposite effect if we let it.

Finally, remember the resurrection. The Christian story does not end with God’s death on a cross. We are an Easter people. There is life after death. Joy after suffering. Hang on and hope for something more. Hope is perhaps the greatest sign of faith.

For those whose suffering makes it hard to remember, I recommend the Scripture from today’s sermon (Acts 2:42). There are steps you can take to remember. They are the same things practiced by the early Christians seeking ways to be faithful. “They devoted themselves to the apostles‘ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.“ First, devote yourself to learning about God. In so doing, you will build a robust theology that can survive dark times. Second, be around other people. Let them sustain you. Listen to their troubles. Share your own. Don’t get trapped inside the prison of your mind. Third, EAT and give thanks! Fortify yourself with simple pleasures and gratitude. Finally, pray. Even when you are empty of words or too angry to speak. Be in communion with the God of the universe who is powerful enough to hold all that you bring and capable of transforming it in love.

Heavenly God, source of all light and love, be with us now. The broken and the weak. The angry and the alone. Be with each of us in our time of need. Hold us in your arms of love. Sustain us when we have nothing else. Remind us of what we need to remember. Amen.

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