This is the opening prayer offered by Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center Director Beth Foster at the annual Tennessee Valley Pride interfaith service on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016.
Ancient and holy one,
In the vastness of the mystery that is our understanding of you and of ourselves, this evening we gather. Here we are, many of your children, calling you by different names and coming to you by different ways, but uniting for this time to reflect on the struggles in which we have engaged.
Tonight, we seek to heal old wounds, blows received in those struggles, and injuries inflicted by prejudice and hatred. Tonight we pray for a spirit of renewal that will carry us forward in the work toward equality and justice across race, class, gender, sexual orientation and all other distinctions that have been contrived to divide us and oppress us.
As we come into this place tonight, we are reminded that this has been a year of violence and bloodshed and loss.
But, we know that you are the spirit who moves us to plant again, the morning after the storm had crushed the crop almost ready to harvest.
We know that you are the one who calls us to love again, the days after our hearts have been broken.
We know that you are the one who inspires us to believe in justice, even as we witness the slaughter of the innocent.
And, we know you are the one who teaches us peace, even when we must challenge our own desires that burn for revenge.
We come together tonight, each of us bringing the sacred songs and words and ceremonies that are our particular way of being in relationship with you and with each other.
Tonight, may these holy acts honor the memories of those who struggled before us. May they help us remember those who stood up and made a difference. May they give us the courage to continue to challenge ourselves, the strength to dismantle systems of harm, and the love to see you in the faces of all our sisters and brothers.
Let us leave here tonight a people renewed, committed to creating a world that is reflective of your love in all its forms.