I had originally planned to write a short essay on liturgical reform. Since then, the ugly murder of George Floyd has created chaos throughout America. So, I have changed my plans.
Liturgy and prayer form us. There are numerous prayers in the Byzantine tradition that call upon the people to embrace love for the other, especially in the pre-Lenten and Lenten seasons. The identity of the “other” changes during humankind’s journey. Today, the need for rites and texts that form faithful how to embrace people of color and other religions is dire.
I humbly present two texts as prayers of our time. The first is a prayer I originally composed in 2015; I have revised it slightly to correspond to present circumstances. The second is the section of intercessions from an anaphora I composed for the Divine Liturgy, published as part of my study on the laity’s view of liturgical theology, The People’s Faith. May these prayers form us and many generations of Christian faithful to become people who disavow rage and violence, and commit to loving other.
A Prayer During Times of Rage and Violence
O Holy God and Father of lights, who appeared to the Prophet Elijah in a still, small voice, you sent your only-begotten Son into the world to draw all of humanity into your kingdom of peace. When the raging crowd shouted for your Son to be crucified, he voluntarily ascended the cross and died for us, forsaking the way of anger and violence and giving us your kingdom of peace. Look down upon us, your servants, and send your Spirit upon us, so that we would abandon rage, violence, murder, vengeance, false witness, racism, and hatred of all others. Grant that we would take on the image of your divine son by adopting lives of peace for the life of the world. May your divine spirit implant courage in us to come forth to hear your word and receive the gift of Your Son so that his grace would shine in us and we would present our lives of peace, reconciliation, and love as our gift to you. For you are holy, together with your only-begotten Son, the king of peace, and your all-holy and life-creating Spirit, now and forevermore. Amen.
Excerpt: Intercessions From Anaphora for Divine Liturgy
In honor of St. John, the Baptizer of our Lord, [saint N.], patron of this holy temple, saints [N] whose memory we commemorate today. Remember, Lord, your Church, all patriarchs, bishops, presbyters, deacons, monastics, and laity; remember our Metropolitan [N.] and our Bishop [N.], our civil authorities and armed forces; our parish community, the choir, servers, our visitors, and all our men, women, and children; remember, Lord, this city and all who live, work, and visit here; remember, Lord, all of those who are sick and suffering; addicts, alcoholics, depressed, injured, bereaved, and mentally ill; remember, Lord, widows and orphans, divorced and single people, the lonely, forgotten, and homeless among us; grant them peace, comfort, and healing, and bless the physicians and therapists who tend to them; remember, Lord, children and students, and bless the teachers who instruct them; remember, Lord, Christians of other Churches, and grant that we would be one, as you and your Son are one; Remember, Lord, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and people of all religions: grant us to live together in peace and reconciliation; remember, Lord, atheists and all those who do not know or seek you, and abide with them; remember, Lord, our enemies, those who love and hate us; grant us to love them as you have commanded. Remember, Lord, those who are in prisons, captives, and slaves; remember, Lord, the poor among us and outside our borders, the vulnerable; Remember, Lord, those who travel by land, sea, air, and space; send your angels with them. Remember, Lord, your creatures and plants that you have called good; make us into your stewards who care for and befriend them. Remember, Lord, all of your people, for you, Lord remember the age and name of each. Grant us peace and prosperity, and may your kingdom come.