Pastoral Prayer for April 10, 2022
Please allow the words of this prayer to become your own.
On this Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week,
I am reminded of the incarnation, the embodiment, of your love
in the person of Jesus.
I am reminded of his riding into Jerusalem on a humble donkey
instead of a mighty war horse, vividly illustrating his rejection of violence.
He rejected violence as used by human beings
and the projection of humankind’s violence onto God —
which means that he challenges me to let go of my own violent tendencies
both toward others and my own desire, at times, for a violent God
who would force people into doing what was right.
I am reminded of Good Friday, and the cross as God’s way of telling us
that even at our very worst there is nothing we can do that would make
God love us less.
I can see how the Parable of the Prodigal Son ties into all this
because it is Jesus’ ultimate teaching on God’s love,
and as such it very difficult for us broken human beings to totally embrace.
I like being welcomed back after my rebellious episodes like the younger son.
But I don’t like being called to task like the elder son, and basically being told
that I’m deficient in the one thing that matters most –
the ability to love deeply, which includes forgiving those who have offended me,
like my younger brother, and also includes the challenge to really trust
that my father loves me as much as my rebellious sibling.
I alternate between fearing that God does not love me as much as my brother,
and wanting to tell God that God should love me more than my brother
because I’ve played the game of life better than him.
A good part of me, like the self-righteous older brother,
has followed the rules and done the work and made the necessary sacrifices,
and resents the fact Jesus tells me that I am loved just as much,
but no more, than someone who hasn’t followed the rules
and done the work and made the necessary sacrifices.
I can understand how Jesus’ impossibly demanding teachings on God’s love
got him lynched.
And yet I am deeply attracted to Jesus and his impossibly demanding teachings.
So the best that I can do is to admit to you what a mixed up, divided person
I am and to ask you to step in to make me whole.
Which means that I need your help even to accept your help.
But I know that you want to give it, and that, finally, gives me a sense of peace.
We continue to pray for peace in the war between Russia and Ukraine,
which in many ways can be seen as the conflict between the two brothers
in this parable writ large.
In this metaphor, Russia, the older son, has lost patience and confidence
and is consumed by jealousy and anger at the younger son, Ukraine.
We pray that this conflict between brother nations
will not end in a similar tragedy to that of Cain and Abel,
where the older brother kills the younger.
Loving God, you are still father to both these brothers,
and we pray that out of your love for both,
a surprising way to peace may open up that neither can now see.