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A Lament for My Church, and for Me


Lord, I grieve for the loss of my tender identity as just one of Jesus’ little flock. 
Help me be just Your little lamb.

Lord, I grieve my cowardice to do courageous things in difficult times.
I pray for grace, and the ability to give grace.

Lord, I grieve the times when a focus on rationality has crowded out truths that can only be spiritually discerned.
Help me imagine, anyway.

Lord, I grieve that an over systemized belief of prescribed present truth has become a cemented mass with scarcely any room for dynamic flow.
Help me, choose to be flexible, anyway.

Lord, I grieve that human convictions have become ideologies, used as exclusionary tools to parse who belongs in our tribe and who does not.
Give me open arms to embrace.

Lord, I grieve that God’s kingdom is mainly presented as an us/them proposition.
Give me divine guidance to see Your wall piercing kingdom work.

Lord, I grieve that our group has adopted triumphal corporate identity markers.
Please help me resolve to shed all but your presence.

Lord, I grieve that well-intentioned church leaders emphasize the dominant/submissive, authoritative/obedience paradigms as representations of God’s way while minimizing the more foundational notions of freedom and persuasion that are key to the Great Controversy.
Help me live openly and authentically, anyway.  May I remember there are no perfect people or organizations, and that there is only the struggle to be whole.

Lord, I grieve that so called Christian powers and authorities minimize and stifle the dear truths that I feel a passionate desire to share.
Correct my vision if I am on the wrong path.

Lord, I grieve that exclusionary ideology sometimes overtakes my mind so that there is little space for transformation.
Help me meditate on Jesus.

Lord, I grieve when certitude has made strong cords of authoritarian leadership in my church and in my life.
Help me walk humbly, with kindness.

Lord, I grieve that our church has missed the paradoxical power of a humble apology.
Please help me admit my own wrongdoing and missteps.

Lord, I grieve that kingdom values are discounted in civil discourse and are labeled as just politically loaded terms.
May I choose to value families rather than focus on family values; choose to be pro-living rather than pro-life; choose personally to care rather than be politically correct.

Lord, I grieve the times that I or my faith community have claimed truth with such confidence, overlooking the reality that thoughtful people today are drawn to humble statements that are corrigible – capable of being corrected.
Be with me as I read, learn, grow, and listen, anyway.

Lord, I grieve that we tend to define faithfulness as standing firm against what we have identified as the sins of others.
Create in me a clean heart.

Lord, I grieve that my denomination has put Infinite God into 28 propositions.
Please, burst our bubble.

Lord, I grieve when pious Christians become a frenzied mob that gets energy by making fun of the doubts of others.
Purify us.

Lord, I grieve that we do not recognize Jesus’ work against oppression that began as He stood in the temple reading writings of the prophet, Isaiah. Instead, we just label such ideas as social gospel or liberation theology, refusing transformation in our circles.
Help us not to name ideas, but to act upon them.

Lord, I grieve that our church has embraced the political status quo.
Help us, help me, enter history on behalf of the oppressed.

Lord, I grieve that the ways to present You to secular people, non Bible believing people, are slapped down in favor of old ways that appeal only to a narrower and narrower segment of our world.
Show me how to break out of this box.

Lord, I grieve the times my enthusiastic zeal spilled unchecked from my mouth without regard to timing or situation or others.
Help me cultivate self-awareness with a constant realignment of my desires to Your desires. May I speak words in due season.

Lord, I grieve that Galatians 5:6 has not become a central, unifying main thing for our tribe.
May I practice only faith working in love, anyway.

Lord, I grieve the revolving door of Seventh-day Adventistism. I sense such beauty in portions of our tribe. I grieve that powerful people don’t appreciate the diverse answers and nuances and remedies that would lead to authentic discipleship for a big group of people. I grieve that many academic voices in our tribe, while recognized by other Christians, get castigated by loud voices in our own faith community.
Please show me the things I can change and what I must accept. Grant me serenity.

Lord, I grieve the lack of acknowledgement that people following Jesus will be on varied and individualized paths.
Be with me as I listen for Your voice, and follow.

Lord, I grieve the church as it speaks of a Savior yet is oblivious of its own need to be saved.
Save us.

Lord, I grieve at my church’s confining descriptions of discipleship, a concept that is mentioned in the New Testament 250 times.
I only commit to Your yoke and light burden.

Lord, I grieve how authentic Christianity is being encroached upon by the political constructs of Dominionism and Triumphalism without consideration of the implications of such theories.
I pray for my own clear vision, knowing I have not always seen things accurately.

Lord, I grieve that kenotic self emptying (Philippians 2) has come to be considered as heresy and something to be feared.
Help me to fear not.

Lord, may I remember the words of the apostle Paul,

“Now if your experience of Christ’s encouragement and love means anything to you, if you have known something of the fellowship of his Spirit, and all that it means in kindness and deep sympathy, do make my best hope for you come true! Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”

Lord, give me the attitude of Christ.


Carmen Lau is a board member of Adventist Forum, the organization that publishes Spectrum. She lives and writes in Birmingham, Alabama.

Image Credit: Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


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