Our culture prizes individualism, self-identity, uniqueness, personal responsibility. And while elements of that are good, when we look at the history of God’s people, of whom we are a part, we see a much more collective approach to life.
They viewed themselves as interconnected, at least in their best moments. It was when they forgot their collective identity as children of God, loved by Him, called by Him, led and nurtured by Him – all done together in community – that they went astray.
It was also when they collectively cried out, repented, turned back, that God most beautifully responded. Perhaps we are so individualistic that we’ve become, to a certain degree, untethered from the true ways of God and His desire for how we live.
This is not some kind of political statement against the American way of living. Instead, it’s an invitation for us to consider the ways, as the Church, that we have missed the mark by neglecting the fullness of the body. How have we, as we’ve made Sundays the most segregated day of the week, missed the mark? How have we, as a body splintered into dozens of denominations with competing visions, missed the mark? How have we, as a faith known sometimes more for its political positions and exclusionary statements than for its love, missed the mark?
And so today, I invite us to pray, together. This prayer is drawn from prophetic words throughout the Bible, and I offer as a prayer for us. Together.
O great God of the universe, we turn our eyes to you.
Have mercy on us, O God, for the ways in which we have defiled ourselves and rejected you.
Let us once again be your people, and you our God, as we return to you with all our hearts.
Come, let us return to the Lord!
You have torn us to pieces, but you will heal us!
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way.
Let us rend our hearts and not our garments,
For you desire mercy, not sacrifice,
And acknowledgment of you more than burnt offerings.
O Lord, take up our infirmities, carry our sorrows.
You have been pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.
The punishment that brings us peace is upon you and by your wounds we are healed.
Thank you Jesus, that you have taken all our iniquity upon yourself.
Turn our mourning into gladness.
Give us comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
Give us new hearts and new spirits.
Renew your church, O God!
O Jesus you call us to deny ourselves,
To take up our cross daily,
And to follow you.
Show us today how to die to ourselves that we may live,
And how in living together, you are building your church.
Let us be one, as you are one, O Godhead!
May we be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you, Jesus, have come into the world to save the world, and you have loved us.
Sanctify us, O God of Peace, through and through.
May our whole spirits, souls and bodies be kept blameless at your coming, Lord Jesus.
You who call us are faithful, and you will do it.
Bear your good fruit in us.
Let love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control mark us, your people, above all else.
O God we cry out to you for restoration!
You are coming soon!
May your grace be with us until you do.
Grace and Peace,