What I had hoped to hear at Nevada's National Day of Prayer gathering
As I traveled to the National Day of Prayer, organized by some houses of worship in our county and celebrated around the flagpole in front of the Vernon County Courthouse, I hoped for many things to be lifted up to God together as a community in prayer.
I hoped that we would be together in prayer, many different people from many different backgrounds, religions, ways of life, theologies, coming together in prayer; that we would welcome and celebrate the diversity in our country, which makes us the United States of America. That different voices would be heard as representatives of God's beautiful tapestry of diversity: men, women, children of different races and different lifestyles. To lift all of our voices to a God who loves us and cares about the world that we live in.
I had hoped that we would focus on ways that we have messed up in this world and be accountable for that. But in doing so would not then free us to point out the other and shame them for their wrongdoings. We have enough of our own problems to point out the speck in someone else's eye.
I hoped that we would admit to God the ways that we neglect the marginalized. How we have helped to create a place where there is rampant drug abuse and poverty and that we have created systems that trap people in that downward spiral. How we have created injustices where people feel like they have no choice but to break the law in order to stay alive. Or how we perpetuate poor living wages because the cheapest is best thing to get.
I hoped that we would lift up the love and care that we have for our neighbor, those who are different from us. We don't always love them as much as we love God or ourselves. But that we would go beyond tolerance and ask for forgiveness and reconciliation so that we may see and respect each other "eyelash to eyelash" as the Latin root meaning tells us. To give us opportunities to commune with others who are not like us. To welcome others into our home as God commands us to do as Abraham so radically did for three strangers that turned out to be angels from God.
I hoped that we would pray that our way was not the only way. That we are so vain to think that our personal doctrines provide the only lens to see God. That we have faith in a God that is omnipotent enough that God can work through all people, even those who do not claim salvation through Jesus Christ. That God also rains on the just and the unjust and that God's grace can work far beyond our human limits and perceptions.
I had hoped that we would give thanks to our God who shows love in many ways. That God loves the single mom, the jailed father, the couple who shows love to each other and their children, regardless of what type of marriage it is. That any marriage could be a bond of true and steadfast love and the personification of God's love for humanity.
I had hoped that we would pray for parents to model right living to their children. That they would not harm their children by negligence or beat them down for fear that they would spoil the child. That the true meaning of the rod was not meant for punishment but to gently guide, as Jesus the shepherd guides us and comfort us with his staff, as he sees the salvation ahead of us. That parents model love and humility and treat their children as their most prized gift from God. And that the children would see this love and perpetuate it rather than hate and divisiveness. And for those who don't know how to parent, that they can find good and Godly role models that they can learn from. That we can break down the walls of isolation so that we can reclaim our community, our communion with each other and God amongst us, so that we can co-create a new and holy place together and begin to repair the world.
I had hoped that we would lift up the people holding offices in our community, our county, our state and our country, by name. To give them mercy for the challenges that come across their desk every day. To give them guidance and direction based on their true love for the people of this community, not the influential lobbyists of the few. To lift up the judges in our county that hold the future of people caught in the system in their hands. That they may judge justly, honestly and compassionately.
I had hoped that we would pray for God's grace to pour out in abundance on our community, our nation and our world; that we would be the bearers of Christ's light in this country and give hope to the hopeless.
My friends, none of this happened at the National Day of Prayer in Nevada on Thursday, May 5. None of this was said. None of this was lifted up to God. Therefore, this is my prayer if you would like to join me.