By Katherine Ellis
Merciful God, though we often enter sanctuary spaces in silence, the pain of the world groans loudly.
As choruses of leaf blowers usher death off the grass we are reminded of the violence, death, and fragility which permeate our community, country, and world.
We may dispel the leaves from the grass which covers the ground; however, we know too well that death and grief linger. Sorrow cannot be ushered away.
In the midst of elections and political news cycles fraught with anxiety and polarization, we pray for glimpsed hope and neighborly love.
For the famine in Yemen and those who hunger in our own community, country, and world we pray for just action and compassionate aid. For families fleeing political turmoil and violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador we pray their journey of precarity might be met with justice and mercy. For the communities stricken by mass shootings and fires that consume, we pray for your healing presence.
For those who enact violence, Lord help us to pray.
For our earth which groans with lament, Lord teach us to tend. For our own communities entangled and beholden to the sorrows and joys of each other and those of the world, by your grace may we approach one another in justice and love.
The rustling wind battered the autumn leaves. Creation offered its postlude before the silence of winter. Yet, the dying groans of creation also witnessed to the colorful autumnal splendor erupting in our midst. This spender fades as the bleakness of winter stifles that which was once teeming with life. Is it dying groans which echo through the cold and barren land? Surely not.
Instead, death begets Advent and the coming of a babe.
Your creation reminds us that death and sorrow are strangely intertwined with beauty and the gracious promise of new life. We are unable to usher neither death away, nor can we usher life near. And so, Lord we pray that you might teach us to wait. Merciful God may our prayers graciously give way to the hope and beauty which you alone offer. Marked by the fragility of a babe, we await your incarnate beauty.
This Advent, might we witness to this beauty birthed anew in hope and your abiding promise. Amen.
Katherine Ellis is a CBF Leadership Scholar and is currently pursuing an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J. She received her B.A. in Religion from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and formerly served as Youth and Community Pastor at Ladywell Baptist Church in Livingston, Scotland. She is a native of Abilene, Texas.