[NOTE FROM JESSICA: Go here for the archive of emails from the 9-Day Prayer Challenge: May 21-29, 2018].
Yesterday, I cantored (led worship) at my parish for Pentecost.
After the news of another school shooting in Texas on Friday, my heart was heavy and grieving for our children, for all the families who suffered a loss so great that I can’t begin to wrap my head around it.
When the time came for me to lead the responsorial psalm, the words were a prayer that welled up from a place deep inside of me that is tired of all the violence and hatred, of seeing our babies afraid to go school, one that is desperate for change: “Lord, send out Your Spirit, renew the face of the earth.”
I was able to get through most of the psalm without incident (I am a notorious crier), but I had to stop singing the last few words (“renew the face of the earth”) because I could feel the tears coming. But even though I had to stop singing, the congregation kept singing. They sang and finished the song when I couldn’t sing anymore.
And so today, I woke up feeling the Holy Spirit nudging me, saying that this feeling — the feeling of joining our voices joining together and praying with one another — is significant, and that it was an invitation for us to pray together.
Many would have us believe that “thoughts and prayers” are an empty sentiment, a way for people to say that they care without actually doing anything. I believe that action, inspired and informed by prayer, is what will change the world.
The Holy Spirit reminded me that it is precisely during these times that we must be prophets in our midst, and be the voices crying out in the desert for an end to violence, for clarity in a time of confusion, for light in a time of darkness.
So starting today, for the next 9 days, I’m inviting anyone who wants to join me in prayer to commit to setting aside even just 5 minutes to pray for our children and our schools, for the Spirit to open our eyes to the specific ways in which we are being called to take action and be part of the change, for God to give us the vision that we need to be who God is calling us to be in a broken world.
I’m creating an email list, for anyone who wants to receive an email reminder, from May 21-29, with inspiration for ways to pray. All are welcome to join, regardless of your faith tradition or how long it’s been since you last practiced your faith.
To sign up, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I promise I will only use your email address for the purposes of this 9-Day Prayer Challenge.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you…The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. - John 14:18, 26-27