This past Sunday we attended services at Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church in Savannah. The service was opened with this wonderfully, beautiful prayer by Reverend Jan Durham. After an amazing few weeks of witnessing our communities come together in unimaginable ways, doing extraordinary work, unselfishly giving to others, we have wondered how this important and amazing work can continue. Matthew exposed us to the daily struggles of the “least of these” and for many of us we were reduced to these struggles ourselves. We were helpless but not hopeless. We witnessed the greatness of others at a time when our county is struggling with goodness and hope. It was refreshing, enlightening and empowering. Take a moment and read this prayer and contemplate where we go from here. Through this prayer I hope you will recognize your role and heed God’s call for you and each of us as we now focus on moving our communities forward:
“Gracious God, we come to Your house this morning a bit battered and blown and in need of Your nurturing care.
For a while we were shaken from our lives of complacency and came head to head with the powerful forces of nature.
We scrambled for food and emergency supplies and prepared to “shelter in place.”
Many times, we encountered long lines and shortages while a capricious hurricane meandered along the coast.
We reluctantly surrendered a little of our prized control of our lives to weather forecasters, government agencies, law enforcement officers, and ultimately most of us followed orders and joined the caravan of evacuees headed inland as we sought shelter with families, friends, whatever hotels would accept our animals.
For a while, we were dependent on the preparation and often generosity of others.
For a while, we knew the bitter taste of shortages, homelessness, dependence, fear.
For a limited while, we faced conditions millions of Your people face every day.
Lord, as we begin to recover from Matthew’s fury, let us not forget how we felt during those days.
Remind us as we enjoy a steaming shower, a morning cup of hot coffee, a satisfying meal.
Remind us as we watch the hordes of faceless refugees fleeing their homes to face an uncertain future
May we see them as Your beloved children with uncertainties and fears and remember our own.
God of love and grace, forgive us when we are arrogant or self-centered.
Make us truly grateful for the privileges we take for granted.
Remind us that we are all interwoven into a tapestry of life created by Your hands.
No matter who or where we are, we benefit or we suffer from the actions of others.
Let our actions be those of compassion, justice, and peace.
Teach us to respect and care for the earth, to guard our words lest we contribute to an attitude of hatred and violence, to turn our complaints about the actions of others in our community into actions for our community.
Make us ever open to the suffering near and far.
May we see the pain behind tired smiles and hear the unspoken cries for help.
May we never miss an opportunity to be Your presence to someone who needs a caring touch, a lingering smile, a call or a note of concern.
And, Lord, when we are weary of serving or disheartened by seemingly unanswered prayers, renew our dedication and remind us that we are blessed to be a blessing in a hurting world.
In Your healing name we pray, saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”
Reverend Jan Durham
Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church, Savannah, Georgia
October 23, 2016