A Prayer for Our Country
On the eve of the twentieth anniversary of 9/11
there are no countries to be conquered,
no ideologies to be imposed,
no people to be dominated.
There are only children,
women and men to be loved.”
~ Henri Nouwen
God of expansive and generous love,
whose concern is the whole wide wonderful world,
especially the vulnerable and anawim (poor ones),
who hears prayers in countless languages,
who cannot be imprisoned in any one religion,
who took human form in a person of color,
in whom unity is discovered in beautiful diversity,
whose heart breaks anew each day
at the disease, death, and destruction
wrought by the creatures of earth,
hear our prayer.
We cannot claim you as our own –
you are not an American God.
To do so is blasphemy.
Rather, you claim us as your own –
ordinary folks from all walks of life,
each one different,
yet more similar than dissimilar –
and you call us to live lives of genuine love,
caring for the least of these among us,
becoming persistent warriors for peace,
laboring to achieve justice for all,
seeking to be compassionate as God is compassionate.
So, while we identified some enemies
and misidentified others
in the aftermath of 9/11,
and then marched dutifully off to war,
thinking we could avenge the harm done to us
when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were struck
and a plane was forced down in a Pennsylvania field,
and so many innocent lives
of loved ones with futures and hopes
were lost to us,
we were mostly serving ourselves, not you.
We pray for our country
on this anniversary of tragedy and resolve.
We pray for comfort in our collective grief.
We pray too that the discipline of duty
might be turned to addressing our own troubles
before turning our fury upon others.
We pray that we begin to take seriously
matters of liberty and justice that affect us all,
directly or indirectly –
equal access to voting,
prisons built upon profits,
women’s health and reproductive choices,
equal protections for our LGBTQ siblings.
We pray for healing amid our deep divisions,
not so that we all think alike,
but so that we might again be able
to talk meaningfully and honestly with one another.
Finally, we pray for the wisdom
to reclaim and redefine our nation’s core principles
to ensure the liberty and justice that is due to all.
Amen. So may it be.
Mark Lloyd Richardson
September 10, 2021