There is this one promise we trust –
That when we do not know what to pray,
the Spirit intercedes for us,
with sighs too deep for words.
…Come now, Spirit…
We have been praying and sobbing
and stuttering and crying out
and our own thoughts and our own words
make no sense to us anymore.
…They go out from us –
our thoughts, our words, our hearts –
they stretch to Connecticut, they stretch to Syria,
they snap back to our own homes, our own families.
Take what is in our hearts, Spirit –
Take our jumbled thoughts and prayers –
Take the hopes we dare to speak –
Know that this is what we do
when we do not know how to care.
Make of our halting efforts a blanket of compassion
to wrap around all who mourn now, and all who fear.
Be near us, Lord, and near all who call on you, we pray. Amen.
There is language we use in worship not because it is true yet but because it is all that we yearn for. When what is is enough to shake us to the core, we call on what we hope against hope might be. And it can seem jarring to talk about sanctuary, or to sing about none being afraid, when the reality we share is one where the even the safest spaces are violated, where atrocity and sensation and horror vie for our attention and our energy.
But it is in response to this that we sing, and pray, and gather at this table. We do it as an act of solidarity and as an act of resistance. We do it to say back to the violence that it will not have the last word. We do it not because we imagine how the world might be “when God is a child” but because we know that God is a child. Two thousand and some years ago and Friday and today and years from now, God is a child. God is every child. And so we worship and that means we love children. And so we pray and that means we listen to the most vulnerable among us. And so we gather at this table and that means we share in the promise and the pain of the world, believing that God shares it, too, and holds us as we hold our confusion and our sorrow and our hope.