A Prayer for Charleston and Beyond

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Oh God, who has identified with us all as Immanuel–God with us,

who was dead but is alive forever more,
who is with  us as we pass through the death-shadows,
who is with us the same now as ever,
whose being-with-us will embraces us in the lowest depths,
and lifts us to the highest heights,
Have mercy upon us, upon our friends and family in Charleston,
whom death-shadows have enveloped this week,
but who nevertheless gather in another shadow today,
the shadow of the cross that redeems the worst horrors,
the shadow of that huge stone that once cradled and confined your own Self, and
the shadow created by the glory of Resurrection that illumines and transfigures
all night into Day;
Have mercy upon us, as we lag behind the Glory in our weakness,
and struggle to face the right way, your way, and turn our backs
on any way other than yours;
Have mercy upon members of our Family at Mother Emanuel AME,
who for now, mostly just feel the loss, and in your mercy
may their loss become opportunity for others of us to join them,
walk with them, share with them, and shoulder the burden with them,
along with Jesus who can somehow make every load lighter and easier;
Have mercy upon us, and help us not to see what is in light of this week’s  terror, but
to perceive what shall be in the light of your triumph over Evil, the Evil One, and
all who embrace hatred, bitterness, and violence;
Have mercy upon this one who murdered nine souls this week, and
upon all who deny or diminish or deflect the full horror of what he has done, and
upon all who refuse to discern the signs of deeper maladies that still plague our world; Indeed,
Have mercy upon our nation and world, that likes to think it has progressed
beyond the base and barbaric, and almost gets away with the delusion, until a week like this,
when our poverty, nakedness, and shameful wickedness comes fully out of the closet,
and our desperate need for You cries out.
Yes, Lord, have mercy!  And then,
Even as we plead for your mercy, we praise and worship you, because
on Your Day, Resurrection Day, the one who was killed has Risen to die no more, but
lives to make alive and keep alive by the power of love, but not a love that “forgives and forgets,”
a love that faces the evil full-on, absorbs its worst, and rises above and beyond in victory;
the love that never ends, never fails, and never stops until only the Lovers are left; and so
We praise and worship you today, knowing that the one who played killer for a week,
is locked up for a judgment to come, while those he killed are safe with you;
We praise and worship you knowing that you bring comfort to the bereaved
in your loving-being-with-us, and will grant courage in the certainty of your victory, and
power to overcome with you all that opposes your plan to bring peoples from all places
to oneness of devotion and joy around your throne;
Yes, we plead for your mercy and we praise and worship you, now and always.  Amen.
David Kendall
By David Kendall

Reverend David W. Kendall, an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference, was elected to the office of bishop of the Free Methodist Church in May 2005. He serves as overseer of East Michigan, Gateway, Great Plains, Mid-America, North Central, North Michigan, Ohio, Southern Michigan, Wabash, African Area Annual Conferences; and Coordinator of oversight for the World Ministries Center.

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