in our prayers today we have carved out some space to grieve in unison with the movement of #blacklivesmatter and #icantbreathe. This is also a space for repentance, a space for action, and a space of soul searching for how each worshiper feels and responds to this difficult time. Following the pastor’s prayer all are invited to come and create an "I Can't Breathe" banner. If you choose not to participate in this movement that is ok – join the band in the song "For All That You Have Done", or simply be in prayer quietly in your seats. May God unite us all as one light of hope in a darkened world.
God you are ever more ready to listen than we are to speak.
But there are times when our silence
comes not from an unwillingness to speak,
rather from an inability to speak.
And the only words we can squeeze out are “I can’t breathe.”
If what we know about you is true
those are the times you are most attentive.
Sometimes that utterance “I can’t breathe” is self induced
– training for a marathon
- pushing ourselves to the edge of our limits.
Sometime it is stress induced
and merely an expression of how we are feeling in the moment.
Sometimes it is the cry of the sick searching for air
only to be rescued by modern medicine.
Likely we have all spoken those words – “I can’t breathe”
It is just as likely that none of us have spoken those words in fear of losing our lives at the hands of another. None of us, that is, with the exception of you.
It is quite possible that you spoke those very words somewhere between
“I am thirsty” and “It is finished”
And it was in that place that your suffering
became a shared suffering with all the world’s suffering.
And so in this moment we cry out “I can’t breathe”
as we linger in the season of Holy Wait - this Advent –
anticipating the return of your Son the Christ
and the rule of his kingdom
in which no one will ever speak the words again “I can’t breathe.”