Tag Archives: prayer

A Beautifully Queer Wedding Celebration


This weekend, I had the honor of witnessing and being a part of the beautiful multireligious, multilingual, multicultural, multigenerational, queer wedding celebration and joining of the families of two of my dear friends and their kiddos. In many Christian traditions, we emphasize that we are called to help bring in the Kingdom of God here on earth. My friends’ wedding was a glimpse of this bringing in of God’s Kin-dom.

At the beginning of the Prayers of Community, I shared these words of welcome (Scott Reiter’s adaptation from Congregation Sha’ar Zahav):

How good it is to gather,
In a rainbow of affections and sexualities,
In the house of a God
Who loves each of us as we are created,
Without limit and forever.

How sweet it is to gather,
In a spectrum of gender identities,
In the house of God
Who transcends human limits and categories.

How pleasant it is to gather,
People of all faiths and of no faith,
In the house of a God
Who listens to the prayers, joys, and heartaches of all people.

How fine it is to gather,
People with firm beliefs,
Together with people with questions in our hearts,
In the house of a God
Who values deeds of caring and justice
Far above the recitation of creeds.”

Then during our prayers, I led these petitions:

Loving Creator, God of many names, as we gather today to celebrate love, we acknowledge that this opportunity is both a gift and a privilege. We know there are many who are excluded and rejected, who can neither gather nor celebrate.

So – as we gather today – we take this time to offer our prayers for the world.

We pray for our LGBTQIA+ siblings – both near & far – who experience unwelcome and rejection in their faith communities, schools, neighborhoods, and homes. And we lift up those who are gravely impacted by harmful anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation.

Loving God, while so many seek to exclude, you are a God who welcomes us with loving arms. Hold all our queer siblings in your tender care, offer healing to those who seek communities of support, and help them remember who they are and whose they are: beloved children created beautifully in your image just the way they are.

We give you thanks, Mother God, for all communities – whether faith, familial, collegial, or social – that affirm and celebrate the belovedness of queer bodies and queer love. We celebrate and pray for the love that does not fit into the boxes that our heteronormative society has created. May the love that is beautifully queer burst through the confines with shining colors, vibrant sequins, and very sparkly glitter.


May we not only pray these petitions through our words, but may these prayers be embodied through our actions: as we shut down harmful rhetoric and speak out against all forms of hate & intolerance; as we seek to change inhumane legislation and dismantle all systems that oppress; as we work to create welcoming, safe, and brave spaces for all to live fully as their authentic selves and as we learn how to love & celebrate our siblings for who they truly are.

A Mother’s Day Prayer: For those who find joy in this day and those who find this day painful


Oh God, our loving and compassionate parent,

we pray today for all who find joy in this Mother’s Day and for all who find this day to be full of pain, grief, and feelings of inadequacy.

This Mother’s Day, we pray:

for the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, foster mothers, and godmothers who have raised and provided love and support for the children in their lives

for the children, youth, and adults who celebrate their mothers, grandmothers, foster mothers, and godmothers today

for the children, youth, and adults who have never experienced a loving or caring mother, grandmother, or other mother figure

for the mothers and their sons and daughters who have broken relationships

for the mothers and other mother figures who feel they have failed as a parent or guardian

for the children, youth, and adults who feel they have failed as a son or daughter

for the women who long to be mothers but cannot

for the women who choose not be mothers but feel that their choices in life are devalued, judged, or said to be “less than”

for the mothers, grandmothers, and other mother figures who are able to spend time together on this day

for the mothers, grandmothers, and other mother figures who are unable to be with their children today due to distance or illness

for mothers, grandmothers, and other guardians who have raised their children by themselves

for the children, youth, and adults who grieve the loss of a mother or mother figure

for the mothers, grandmothers, and other mother figures who grieve the loss of a child or grandchild

for the children and mothers, grandmothers, or other mother figures who have been separated

May all be filled with peace, comfort, and hope today through your loving presence.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayers.  


Prayers for Yayi Abana and the rest of our girls from Chibok #BringBackOurGirls



What if 276 girls from schools in Chicago were kidnapped in the middle of the night by armed men three weeks ago and are still missing?

I can just imagine what kind of uproar the city of Chicago – let alone the rest of the country – would make if this were the case.

However, this kind of uproar I envision is not being made for the 276 school girls in Nigeria who have been kidnapped and are being sold into slavery, forced to marry, or coerced to convert…

Maybe this is because it is difficult to comprehend such a horrendous event.

Maybe this is because we struggle to embrace our anger, to grieve, and to take action for our children and youth across the world when the situation seems so distant from us and we feel so powerless.

Maybe we just don’t have the words to say, the knowledge of what we can do, or even just the ability to swallow the realities of this horror.

The past few weeks I have found myself struggling with this tension.  One minute I am overwhelmed with my incredible heart-break over these young girls and the next minute I go back to my privileged life where I don’t have to think about or face this reality…

And yet, I keep coming back to these girls… These helpless girls who once sought education, dreamt about doing something great with their lives, played with their friends at school, and were loved by their teachers and families.  I keep coming back to these girls: thinking about what it would have been like for them to bravely go to school in the midst of the growing threats and violence that surrounded them.  I keep going back to these girls: picturing what it would have been like for them to be woken up in the middle of the night by armed men disguised in army uniforms, thinking they were being led to safety, and then finding out they were wrong as they were forced into trucks and watched their school get set on fire by these once-trusted “guides.”

I keep going back to these girls: thinking about how they could have been my neighbor, my niece, my goddaughter, or my youth from my church ministry.

…And then my heart aches, and I feel angry, grief-stricken, and powerless.

Yesterday I was inspired by Jan Edmiston’s post “Please Pick One” where she urges readers to pick one name on the list of abducted girls (only 180 out of the 276 have been identified) and pray for her every day until she returns home.  This is just a small commitment we can each make.  It only requires us to make room for a little interruption each day in our very privileged lives.  But it is one thing we can do to stand with these girls, their families, and all other girls around the world who have been denied their humanity.

I have chosen to pray for Yayi ​Abana.  I don’t know much about her.  All I know is that she is identified as Muslim and she is a daughter, a granddaughter, a neighbor, a friend, a student, and possibly a sister.  She may be 15 or 16 years old.  She likely had dreams and inspirations, struggles and fears, celebrations and joys.  She is a beloved child of God.  

I pray for Yayi, her family, her friends, her neighbors, her community, the protesters who are bravely standing up for her.  I pray for hope, healing, safety, answers.  I pray for community, comfort, love, peace.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

And I urge you to pick a girl on the list (or think of a girl whose name is unidentified) and make a commitment to pray for her daily, as well.  Maybe writing a prayer or a reflection about her and her family and sharing it with others on your blog, Facebook, twitter, or in person will help you to follow through with this commitment and will encourage others to do the same.  These girls and their families need our prayers.  They need our support.  They need the world to feel outraged and to cause an uproar.  So let us join together in lifting our voices and our prayers boldly and loudly for God’s children and youth around the world because all of God’s children deserve to live fully as they were created to live!


Related Articles:

Please Pick One (achurchforstarvingartists)

Do We Pray For Chibok (Rev. Grey Maggiano)

Dear World: A Lament for 234 Nigerian Girls (terynobrien.com)

Why Girls In Nigeria Should Matter To You (rageagainsttheminivan.com)

Nigeria Abductions: 6 reasons why the world should demand action (cnn.com)

Tonight, All the Children are Crying: A Lament for Nigeria (thetalkingllama)

In Which We Pray: Bring Back Our Girls (sarahbessey)


Silence: Youth Group Lesson for Lent



Materials Needed: computer paper, markers, pens, lined paper, notecards, “Noise” Nooma Video, tv or projector to show video


Explain: We are in the middle of the spring semester with projects and midterms coming up, lots of activities, sports, ACT prep, college applications, etc. How many of you feel really busy and overwhelmed?  Do you have a lot of free time in your days?  We are also in the middle of Lent.  As we continue to journey through Lent at this busy time of year, I want us to start thinking about our time, how we use it, and what things we give priorities to in our daily schedules.

Graph A Day (approx. 12 min.)

Give participants paper and markers and ask them to pick one day from the last week. Ask them write out a detailed schedule of what they did that day.  Tell them to include detailed activities and actions at each half hour to hour between the time they woke up and went to bed.  (This would include: showering, breakfast, brushing teeth, travel to/from school, class schedule, spending time on Facebook, tv, video games, extra-curricular activities, texting, etc.)  Explain that you will share these schedules later.


Watch: NOISE Nooma video (11 min.)

Small Groups:  (Take graphs to small groups) (10-15 min.)


– What kinds of noises are in your life? (audio and visual)

– Why is silence so hard to come by?

– How did you feel when you had to be silent during the video? (Was it uncomfortable?  Relaxing?  Foreign?)  Why?

– Do you make time for silence in your every-day lives?  If so, how, when, what does it look like?  When was the last time?

– Why do you think that making time for silence in your every-day lives is important?

– One of the quotes on the video says: “Does all the noise in your life make it difficult to hear God?”  What are your thoughts on this?

– Think of a time in your life when you did make time for silence in your day and it was positive.  Would anyone share this experience?  How did it make you feel?  Did you see or hear God during this time?

– What are some ways we can make time for silence in our days going forward?


Large Group: (8 min.)

As a group, sum up why it is important to make time for silence in our lives.

Ask youth to look back at their schedules.  Tell them to take a few minutes to think about things they can take out of this schedule in order to make some time for silence in their schedule.

Hand out postcards and markers.

Ask youth to write on their postcards specific goals for themselves:

–       What can you take out of your current schedule (tv time, ipod, etc.) to make time for silence?

–       What kind of practice will you add in this schedule to include silence (walk, go to room and pray, pray for school, meet with a few friends a few times a week for times of silence, take 5 min. of silence before you go to school or before you go to bed, etc.)

–       *Make sure to include when this practice will take place.  (Time and frequency.  Ex: Sit in silence every night before bed, go on a prayer walk without headphones every day after school, etc.)


TIME FOR SILENCE: (5-10 min.)

Give youth 5-10 minutes to spend in silence.   (Light a candle to remind the youth of God’s presence in the room and turn on Gregorian Chant music.)

Tell the youth to go into a space by themselves and away from other youth.  (You may want to take the youth to a small chapel or to the sanctuary for this time.)  Provide materials for the youth to draw, pray, sit, think, or journal.  (pens, lined paper, construction paper, play doh, markers, etc.)


Why I am fasting on Wednesdays this Lent (#Fast4Families)



Last week, on Ash Wednesday, we heard the prophet Joel call out to us to join him in a fast: “Return to the LORD, your God… with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning… Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”

This Lent, I am responding to Joel’s call and joining with others around the country in a great fast for families: where we are committing to pray and fast every Wednesday in Lent for citizenship and immigration reform.  This fast impels us to “repent from an immigration system that tears apart families” and to be a collective “prophetic witness to the moral urgency of commonsense immigration reform so that all might have the opportunity to be citizens with equal respect and dignity.”

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. – Deuteronomy 10:17-19

Rabbi Brant Rosen, a congregational rabbi in Evanston, IL, puts a face to this “tragically broken immigration system.”  His story is one of too many that leads us to this important fast for families.

And as Jim Wallis explains in his article Ash Wednesday: How Fasting and Prayer Could Change Us – and Our Country: “This is why we fast, pray and act because we are called by our faith, because we hear the cries of community members, and we will continue to mobilize to demonstrate that we will accept neither excuses nor delays. We will continue to pray, fast and act until the bonds of families are no longer broken and citizenship is no longer a dream, but a reality for 11 million aspiring Americans.”

So will you join this fast?  (It’s never too late to start.)


* To donate to this movement and keep it strong, click here.

* Click here to sign a petition that urges President Obama to cease deportations while Congress is working toward immigration reform.

* Click here for the beautiful “Im/migration Stations of the Cross” created by Grace Commons Church in Chicago.