Lord Have Mercy – On Our World and On Our Way…

These words form a prayer that have a central place throughout the Christian life:  Lord Have Mercy.” Praying them (whether alone, in a group, sung as part of a worship service or said as a response to a time of prayer) reminds us that one of the things we claim in faith is a sense of our dependence on God who gives all things. That means we certainly pray with a contrite heart, but this prayer is more than that. It is much wider than that. We can pray it every day. Perhaps we should. It is a prayer of repentance but also one of gratitude. It is a prayer that calls us to help others. It is a prayer that confesses that wherever God has placed us in life and whatever out lot, we bear witness to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit active in our lives and world. It is a prayer for strength. It is a prayer that is both personal and corporate. It is a prayer of the believer. It is a prayer of the seeker. It is a prayer for those who are confident in their faith and those who are weary and barely holding on. It is the prayer of the whole church, yet it rolls off of our lips. It is a prayer that sees the world in its proper perspective – with God alone as in charge of it, and we as those who worship, follow and serve God in it. It is not that we are denigrated to such a lowly position – in fact it is the prayer of the opposite, “Dear God, lift us up and send us out.”

“Lord Have Mercy” in Greek is “Kyrie Eleison.” In many liturgies these words come at the beginning of the worship service. The Western church adapted it from the East sometime in the early medieval period. Worship began with the singing of a psalm, and these words, “Kyrie Eielson” accompanied the procession. They were repeated as often as it took for the cross, the worship assistants, the priest, the bishop (sometimes even the pope!) to make their way through the people to the altar. Although the worship formally began with the greeting and singing of “Glory to God,” this entrance certainly would have communicated a strong message – God was near and all who had gathered were in the presence of Divine Majesty. (1)

At St. Michael’s we are singing a version of “Lord Have Mercy” with these words, “Kyrie Eleison, on our world and on our way. Kyrie Eleison, every day.” (2) Like the Kyrie’s origin these words communicate an encounter with Divine Majesty. However, they do more than simply announce a procession into the sacred realm filled with our liturgical vestments and sacred music from long ago. In fact, this version of the Kyrie does exactly the opposite – the words tear down the wall between the sacred and the secular, reminding us that wherever we are and wherever we go, “on our world and on our way,” we encounter the presence of God.  These are not words of procession but words that send us back out to see God’s world anew to pray boldly for what we find there, “Lord Have Mercy.”

Try something. You may like it enough to incorporate it into your everyday prayers. Note the things you are most grateful for, worried about, curious about, troubled with, bothered by, inspired by, and whatever else you can think of at the moment. The order does not matter. Start small. Let your list grow. Simply name what is on your mind and on your heart, and follow each idea with, “Lord Have Mercy.” You’ll find a rhythm to your prayers that call you both into Divine Majesty and into this world.

Below are my prayers this week. Feel free to pray some of these or similar prayers, or use these as an example and write your own. Pray alone or with a friend. There are no “rights” or “wrongs” here, just jump in and try it.
____________

For the great weather we have been having, for the friendliness it inspires, and that neighbors could meet one another,

Lord Have Mercy.

For Joseph Kony and the suffering of so many people at his hands. For the countless people murdered we will never know and the children who still are under his power,

Lord Have Mercy.

For school state tests now over and for my son getting through them,

Lord Have Mercy.

For the homework now to do,

Lord Have Mercy.

For finding the tick in my daughter’s hairline and pulling it out,

Lord Have Mercy.

For the health and strength of our family,

Lord Have Mercy.

For everybody who is scared, sick, tired or hungry,

Lord Have Mercy.

Specifically for…

Lord Have Mercy.

For the soldier and his family after the killings in Afghanistan. That justice is done. That those who lost loved ones are comforted. That those who serve to keep us safe would be treated in such a way that they would not snap under pressure. That wars end. That there be peace,

Lord Have Mercy.

For the governments of Iran, Israel, and America. That leaders stay level-headed and accountable. That tensions end. That there be peace,

Lord Have Mercy.

For Syria. That there be stability. That there be peace,

Lord Have Mercy.

For the families of those shot in Toulouse. For those who found the shooter. That there be peace,

Lord Have Mercy.

For those rebuilding after so much loss and destruction in so many places,

Lord Have Mercy.

For the family of the boy in Florida,  killed for looking like someone else,

Lord Have Mercy.

For the little girl who got hit by a car but appeared to be OK. For her parents, and for the driver,

Lord Have Mercy.

For the lives that are touched by the many things people do. For those who encourage and share. For those who teach. For those who learn and are mentored,

Lord Have Mercy.

For those exploring what faith might mean,

Lord Have Mercy.

For those unsure what to do,

Lord Have Mercy.

For first days on the deck, and the many more to come,

Lord Have Mercy.

For friends with a listening ear…and that I might have one too,

Lord Have Mercy.

For a great church community, a wonderful place to live, and for the many gifts of the people here,

Lord Have Mercy.

For all the kids who sit up front on Sunday mornings and for their parents, that they be supported and encouraged to keep coming and participate,

Lord Have Mercy.

For our young people, and for their futures,

Lord Have Mercy.

For my colleagues, their ministry, their gifts, budding friendships and your church everywhere,

Lord Have Mercy.

For laughter and stories,

Lord Have Mercy.

For the sirens I hear right now,

Lord Have Mercy.

For new vision to see,

Lord Have Mercy.

For everything else I forgot,

Kyrie Eleison, on our world and on our way.
 Kyrie Eleison, every day. Amen.

Peace,
Pastor Geoff
__________

“There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!’ Jesus stood still and called them, saying, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.” (Matthew 20:30-34)
_______

(1) Frank Senn. Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress,1997), pp. 184-185.
(2) Evangelical Lutheran Worship. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), Setting 8, p. 184.

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About geoff sinibaldo

Follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, Son, Friend, Change Proponent, Goofball, Seeking Faithfulness in the 21st Century
This entry was posted in Faith Everyday, Lent/Easter, Lent/Easter Posts, Praying, Thoughts on Prayer. Bookmark the permalink.

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