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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Roads to Zion Mourn

Bring on the day you have announced,
    and let them be as I am.
22 Let all their evil doing come before you;
    and deal with them
as you have dealt with me
    because of all my transgressions;
for my groans are many
    and my heart is faint.

Not much of a prayer, is it?  I copied it from  It is Lamentations 1:21c-22.  The title of this post comes from Lamentations 1:3.

Why am I lamenting, spending my prayer time in such blue verses, clouds of doom hanging low, swallowing me?

My wife and I are reading a book about Lectio Divina, praying the scriptures. To put into practice what I have read and to bring new life to my prayer life, I have practiced Lectio Divina.  I have read the passage over and over (a month ago Lamentations 1:1-5 and today Lamentations 1:21-22).  I have read each aloud, over and over.  In between readings, I do deep breathing.

Then, I listen for a word given, and pour over it in my mind.  I think about it, uses of it, where it comes from, what it could mean.  

After reading and thinking, I pray directly to God.  In terms of "the roads to Zion mourn," I thought about cities.  This first came home to me in doing missions back in July in Atlanta.  The inner city kids we tutored in the literacy camp took a lot out of me.  While we there, the news came that Detroit was bankrupt.  My is from Detroit, born and raised until young adulthood on 7 Mile Road.  She studied at Wayne State University and taught at Mumford High School.  My mom was Detroit.  

And we would go back there every Christmas and throughout the year.  We lived in a suburb, Clawson, between 14 and 15 Mile Roads.  Then in 1982, I was 12, and we moved to Roanoke, Virginia. Still the trips back to Detroit were frequent.  

So in July of this year, a city was confronting me - Atlanta.  And my memory confronted me - Detroit.  (And none of this accounts for the many years I spent doing ministry with kids in inner city Washington DC).  When I returned home to Chapel Hill from the wonderful and draining and hard week in Atlanta, I got into the Lectio Divina, and began reflecting on cities - Zion, Atlanta, Detroit. Recent events have called other cities to mind - Damascus, Cairo, Terhan, and Pyong Yang.  And of course, there is the city that newly forced its way into my heart, the city of my middle son's birth, Addis Ababa.  

God loves cities.  I don't have any specific prayer.  I went before God on behalf of Detroit and on behalf of my kids in Atlanta.  And Addis.  And ...

But really, I had nothing to ask for (and everything to ask for).  I just sit with God, thinking about cities, trying to join my heart to his.  And I grieve.  

I know God sees.  God sees the injustice and there will be day of reckoning. Setting things right is my job.  I couldn't handle it.  I'd mess it up in an awful way.  But I can love those who hurt.  I can hug and cry.  I can rally people to educate or contribute $$$ to the education of children who would not get it without help.  I can care.  I can sit with.  I can pray.  I can go.  

Bring on the day, Lord.  Bring on the Day of the Lord.  Until then, I pray and I sit with you.


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