March 30, 2023
Dear Lenten Pilgrims,
The events of these past days can be marked by three powerful and timely prayers, which speak to needs of our world and our hope in God. I invite you to consider them prayerfully.
PRAYER 1: “LORD, DELIVER US”
The first is by Rear Admiral Barry C. Black, the Chaplain of the United States Senate, in the wake of the horrific shooting at the Covenant Presbyterian School in Nashville, Tennessee. He offered this prayer at the start of the Senate’s session on Tuesday.
Eternal God, we stand in awe of you. Lord, when babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers. Remind our lawmakers of the words of the British statesman Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Lord, deliver our senators from the paralysis of analysis that waits for the miraculous. Use them to battle the demonic forces that seek to engulf us. We pray, in your powerful name, Amen.
PRAYER 2: “JESUS, HELP THEM”
The second prayer is by a meteorologist named Matt Laubhan, broadcasting live last Friday night as a line of terrible tornadoes tore through Mississippi, including a small town called Amory. As he watched the ominous tornadoes pop up on his radar, he spoke directly to the residents of that town: “Amory, we need to be in our tornado safe space.” And then, looking distraught, he paused for a moment before simply saying:
“Dear Jesus, please help them. Amen.”
If you’d like to contribute to relief and recovery efforts through our United Methodist Committee on Relief, you can donate here.
PRAYER 3: “HOSANNA!”
The final prayer was first uttered 2,000 years ago, but is as timely now as ever. On the very first Palm Sunday, whose triumphal entry by Jesus we will celebrate this Sunday, people lined the streets with palm fronds and through their cloaks on the ground. Channeling their fears, anxieties, and frustrations, they shouted a prayer as Jesus road by. It begins with the word “Hosanna,” an ancient Hebrew term which means, “We pray: Save us!”
“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel!” (John 12:13)
These three prayers, offered in dramatically different contexts and even separated by millennia, are all rooted in the same theological premise: We need the grace of God to confront the horrors and tragedies of our time, and we need the strength of God to respond with justice and mercy. May our thoughts and prayers result in courageous and compassionate action.
Grace and Peace,
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