What do a global pandemic, saying goodbye to a beloved colleague in ministry and waiting on the results of a national election have in common? Clue- the answer is not a pithy saying or a cryptic punch line. No, the answer for me, is the need to “believe in beginnings.”
This has been a very hard week for me, and I know I am not alone sharing that truth. It is almost 8 months to the day since I packed up our “tabernacle” of religious symbols during the middle of Lent and walked out of our sacred worship space on the corner of St. Clair and Adams making the promise we would not come back until we could all come back together and safely. Then week before last I accepted the resignation of our beloved Director of Music & the Arts, Nate Leonard. It is heartbreaking to lose people we love and care about and even more so when a ministry such as his has touched us all so profoundly. And now we sit and wait as a country wondering what will become of our democracy. We have exercised our agency more than ever before as a sign of our collective desire to be the change we want to see, and yet the outcome still feels tenuous at best.
Henceforth my need to pull out this beautiful prayer/petition/lament to God by Presbyterian minister and author Ted Loder. As I read it again and again, I am reminded that I am a beloved child of God called to serve in ways that stretch me and pull me further into a way of being that demands equal parts of humility and courage. Each time I read the words below- these particular ones get caught in my throat:
Help me to be a beginning to others,
to be a singer to the songless, a storyteller to the aimless, a befriender of the friendless;
to become a beginning of hope for the despairing, of assurance for the doubting, of reconciliation for the divided…
As you read these words, I invite you to pay attention to where they resonate in you- what are you being called to do or be or see today as we take steps forward together?
And, even amidst these challenging times, I still end each day with an increasing depth of gratitude for this community; we are not alone; we have so much ahead of us; we are together, the Body of Christ- broken and blessed each day- moving further and further in love into the kinship of God.
May you never forget that you are loved,
Help Me to Believe in Beginnings (by Ted Loder)
God of history and of my heart, so much has happened to me during these whirlwind days:
I’ve known death and birth;
I’ve been brave and scared;
I’ve hurt, I’ve helped;
I’ve been honest, I’ve lied;
I’ve destroyed, I’ve created;
I’ve been with people, I’ve been lonely;
I’ve been loyal, I’ve betrayed;
I’ve decided, I’ve waffled;
I’ve laughed and I’ve cried.
You know my frail heart and my frayed history – and now another day begins.
O God, help me to believe in beginnings and in my beginning again,
no matter how often I’ve failed before.
Help me to make beginnings: to begin going out of my weary mind into fresh dreams,
daring to make my own bold tracks in the land of now;
to begin forgiving that I may experience mercy;
to begin questioning the unquestionable that I may know truth
to begin disciplining that I may create beauty;
to begin sacrificing that I may accomplish justice;
to begin risking that I may make peace;
to begin loving that I may realize joy.
Help me to be a beginning to others,
to be a singer to the songless, a storyteller to the aimless,
a befriender of the friendless;
to become a beginning of hope for the despairing, of assurance for the doubting,
of reconciliation for the divided;
to become a beginning of freedom for the oppressed, of comfort for the sorrowing,
of friendship for the forgotten;
to become a beginning of beauty for the forlorn, of sweetness for the soured,
of gentleness for the angry,
of wholeness for the broken,
of peace for the frightened and violent of the earth.
Help me to believe in beginnings,
to make a beginning, to be a beginning,
so that I may not just grow old, but grow new each day of this wild, amazing life
you call me to live with the passion of Jesus Christ.
Source: Loder, Ted. (1981). Guerrillas of Grace, Prayers for the Battle.
Minneapolis, MN.: Augsburg Fortress.