BY ALEXIS CARTER
DRAW NEAR, O LORD
A Gathering Meditation for 2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Draw near, O LORD, we have come to seek you. Be the sanctuary in which our souls find Sabbath. Remind us of your promises. Thank you that we find refuge, peace, and our steadfast love in you. Make us a place where you desire to dwell. Prepare us to reflect your glory that we might respond to your presence more than cedar, brick, stone, or steeple. You are our shepherd; lead us to rest and teach us what we are longing to learn today.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
Gracious God, we come before you on behalf of the people who work hard and do not have regular rest from their labor.
For those who work for inadequate wages and without proper benefits:
Hear their cries.
For your people who work for Sabbath violators, slave masters, and in sweat shop conditions:
Hear their cries.
For those who work for modern-day sharecroppers who steal what they have rightly earned:
Lord, have mercy.
For those for whom home is a place of work without celebration and appreciation:
Lord, give them rest.
Deliverer from slave labor, we ask that you lead your people to places of rest and restoration for their bodies, minds, and souls.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers. Amen.
TO THE MASTER BUILDER
A prayer for 2 Samuel 7:1-14a
God who has constructed our lives for your very purposes:
We confess that we have too often built the wrong things.
We have used tools from the wrong master’s house – ones that fail to dismantle the darkness.
We have focused on building our legacies
And have missed opportunities to share yours.
We have built walls when we should have built bridges.
By the places we live, learn, work, shop, and go for entertainment,
We have contributed to building powers and principalities
That we should work toward deconstructing and demolishing.
Sometimes our building has displaced the homes
And disrupted the neighborhoods of people whose voices did not matter
To those in positions of power.
Knock down the walls of our minds
And renovate our imaginations
That we may see your plans as better than our own.
When your blueprints are bolder than our flawed floorplans,
Help us to trust you.
We offer you these prayers in the name of the Carpenter who built the church
And it is in his body we find our lives.
WE CONTINUE IN YOUR REST
Response to the Word, for Mark 6:30-34
Leader: You have heard the Word of the Lord. Before you reenter the space where crowds are waiting on the other side of screams for your responses, and others are hungering for your compassion, take a moment to be in conversation with the Lord about what you may need to tend to and what you need to rest from.
People: Lord, you are our shepherd, lead our hearts and our steps.
(90 second pause suggested)
Leader: Go, do all that you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.
People: LORD, we have heard you and we will do what you have put in our minds.
GO, TO THE DESERTED PLACES
A Sending for Mark 6:30-34
When the Lord beckons you to deserted places so that you may find sweet rest with him, go. When unwelcome strangers and unwanted guests interrupt your agendas and productivity, have compassion on them. Make time to tend to your bodies, minds, and spirits, so that you may be fully present with the people who anticipate your attention. Be reminded that it is not your presence and power they are seeking, but they recognize the Spirit of the Lord who abides within you.
Rev. Alexis Carter Thomas is a writer, researcher, and adjunct professor who lives with her husband, John, in South Carolina. Her current work includes conducting an ethnographic study of the flourishing of Black clergywomen and providing soul care as a form of reparations to women to give their time, resources, and life to the thriving of Black churches.