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A Prayer for Children of Adoptions

When Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the Supreme Court, those persons in support of her nomination have suggested that one of the reasons she should be given a lifetime appointment on the highest court of the land is that she has seven kids. According to Senator Thom Tillis, Barrett is “a remarkable mother” with “seven beautiful children,” “She and her husband have seven children,” Senator Lindsey Graham said in his opening remarks, in case anyone hadn’t heard, before giving her two more. “She and her husband have seven children. Two adopted. Two of Ms Barrett’s children are Haitian adopted. Why is it necessary for anyone to single out the two adopted children? Because they are Black children. 

Barrett said her daughter Vivian who came to them from Haiti, when she arrived was so weak that they were told she might never talk or walk normally. But now she deadlifts as much as the male athletes at their gym, and I assure anyone listening that she has no trouble talking. And John Peter who joined them shortly after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, described the shock on his face when he got off the plane in wintertime Chicago. Stating once the shock wore off he assumed the happy-go-lucky attitude that is his signature trait. Barrett also shared intellectual traits of her birth children, such as law career minded, loves liberal arts, math gene, smart, strong, kind, and writer.   

It is an insult to our intelligence to think that we did not notice the stark difference in how Barret affectionately describes some of her children. Vivian and John Peter we see you. You are smart, strong, determined, gifted and Black! There are families all around the world who adopt children transracially and internationally that do not feel the need to clarify their adopted children. 

 

Today we offer a scripture and Prayer for the gifted children of adoptions.

Romans 8:14-19 (NRSV)

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness] with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

 

Let us Pray:

Mothering God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we thank you for the spirit of adoption and for all who bring children into their homes as their own. We ask your blessings of protection and inclusion for all your children. We honor the birth parents and pray for their well being. 

Lord, I play the words over and over in my head and I ache for the children sitting under the sound of their mother’s voice. Give the parents new ways to describe their gotcha children. Words that speak life and blessings. Words that affirm and inspire them to be their best selves.

Lord, we also ask that your Spirit moves parents who bring Black Indigenous Children of Color into their homes that they would read and seek out information that shapes their understanding on racial disparities and the challenges that impact the lives of Black and Brown people.

Oh God, give courage to transracial families to advocate with boldness for equity and inclusion. 

Lord, you created us all in your likeness. And knowledge and understanding comes from you. Move us towards your light and love that we might truly become the children of God, caring and loving all of your creation.  In your name we pray.

 

Rev. Babette Chatman

 

A Prayer for Moral Leadership

On Thursday, October 1, the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin, Jr., addressed the Augsburg University community for The Bernhard Christensen Symposium. His topic: “Moral Leadership: Integrity, Courage, and Imagination.” As Dr. Franklin listened to insightful Auggie students’ inquiry and questions to his presentation, he lifted up the call for us all to “steward your moral authority.” In doing so, he quoted the recent departed civil rights activist and U.S. House of Congress Representative from Atlanta’s 5th district, John Lewis. Rep. Lewis wrote in his final words to the American public in the July 30th The New York Times Op Ed piece, “Together, you can redeem the soul of our nation.” Leaning into MLK’s words, Rep. Lewis went on to write, “Each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up, and speak out.”  Thank you, Rep. Lewis and Dr. Franklin, for reminding our Auggie community that our call to serve as neighbor to each other neighbor is a moral obligation. May we have the integrity, courage, and imagination to do serve.

 

Let us pray:

O God of righteousness, stir us to stand up, speak up, and speak out with moral courage. The very soul of our nation depends upon it. Too often we are witness to and, at times, part of the failure of leadership to address the four-fold pandemic of COVID-19, systemic racism, climate change, and economic injustice. Embolden us to:

seek forgiveness where we have failed;

re-orient ourselves to your ways of mercy and loving-kindness;

listen to the needs of others with humility;

heal the hurt within us and around us;

work alongside each other for shared liberation;

imagine new ways of living into reconciliation and peace;

and celebrate love’s truth and power alive in each other and in all creation.

This we pray in your holy name. Amen. 

 

Rev. Justin Lind-Ayres

University Pastor

A Prayer of Lamentation and Thanksgiving

We are all holding so much in these unnerving days. Heavy stuff…the stuff of lamentation and heartache. But alongside our laments, there exists the stuff of rejoicing and thanksgiving. So recognizing this tension, I invite you into this brief moment…to breathe…to settle into quiet thought or silent prayer for the people, places, and circumstances held close in your heart…your lamentations AND your thanksgivings!

Holy One, hear our petitions and our pleas as we lament the hurt and brokenness in our lives and in the world.

Prayer of Lamentation

For the pain and suffering caused by Covid-19…(pause for reflection)

For systemic racism and injustice woven into our culture and institutions…(pause for reflection)

For climate change – fires out West, floods in the Southeast, hurricane devastation along the

Gulf Coast, warming oceans and changing ecosystems…(pause for reflection)

For upended norms of our daily lives…(pause for reflection)

For transitions and relationship changes, including friends and colleagues who have left our Augsburg community over the spring and summer months… (pause for reflection)

And now, Blessed One, hear our praises and our prayers of thanksgiving for the good at work among us.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

For all essential workers – health care providers, teachers, first responders, farmers and grocers – working for our wellbeing and flourishing in these days…(pause for reflection)

For the rallying cry and invitation to seek racial justice for black, indigenous, and people of color…(pause for reflection)

For firefighters, disaster relief workers, social service agencies, non-profits, and scientists working to address the effects and causes of climate change…(pause for reflection)

For new patterns and rhythms found, technologies that connect us, and life reformed for the sake of communal health and safety…(pause for reflection)

For this Augsburg community, the students who give us purpose and hope, and the work of faculty, administration, and staff called in joint-service here and now…This we pray. Amen and amen.

Rev. Justin Lind-Ayres

University Pastor

A Prayer of Both/And

This evening (Friday, September 18), begins Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The two-day holiday falls at the beginning of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, or the Sabbath of the year. It ushers in the ten High Holy Days in the Jewish tradition, culminating with Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Tradition holds that Rosh Hashanah is a time to show gratitude to YHWH for Creation. It is a time of both celebration and a time of serious introspection. A person is to celebrate the completion of another year, at the same time, take stock of one’s life. 

The idea of a holiday that is both festive and serious reminds me of the idea of paradox that runs so deeply in Lutheran tradition. We often refer to this idea as both/and. We see it when in the Apostle’s Creed, one confesses Jesus to be both fully human and fully divine. Martin Luther’s simul justus el peccator, simultaneously sinner and saint, is foundational to the Lutheran tradition.

The very idea paradox is confusing. Was Jesus half human and half divine, are we 50% sinner and 50% saint? It seems easier to just blow past the whole mess, but when we do that, we miss out on the amazing wonder of who we are and how we understand our God. We’ve come to understand that somehow, Jesus was all of it at the same time, and so are we. We are more. We are amazing creatures, and we have the capacity to be and feel, and do more than one thing at a time.

With that in mind, following in the tradition of our Jewish ancestors, we can celebrate and reflect at the same time. Like our Lutheran foreparents, we can express our gratitude and our repentance at the same time. 

We offer this prayer of gratitude and celebration, together with lament and sorrow as we take stock of the world. 

Scripture

Psalms 44:1-2 We have heard with our ears, O God, our ancestors have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free.

Prayer

O God, you have so generously given to your people, through all the generations.  You have given us an amazing and mysterious planet with the capacity to sustain and nourish us, with gratitude, we stand in awe of all that you have made. At the same time, we repent that we have not taken care of what you have provided. We have caused devastation to the earth in order to fulfill our own ever growing greed. Wildfires, drought, flooding, and hurricanes are just a few of the things that continue to destroy what you have made. Not only have we harmed the earth, but we have caused greater harm to one another in the process. In your generous ways, God, forgive us and turn our focus to restoration.

God of all nations and people, whom you have made in your divine image, in whom you breathed the divine breath of life; the variety of each of us is cause to rejoice. Our skin is black, and brown, and white. Our hair is light and dark, some of us have no hair, for this we rejoice. While we celebrate the unique and beautiful differences you have given each of us, we lament that those gifts you have given to us all have been cause to see some of our siblings as less than. Help us to recognize you have made us each in your image and we are as we should be. Let us celebrate the diversity with which you created us all. 

God of mercy and grace, we know that in your generosity, we are forgiven for the ways we have missed the mark, and are free to rejoice. We are grateful for the both/and. We are both able to see our mistakes, and at the same time, celebrate the gift of your grace. Help us to live fully in the both/and of this complicated and messy world, in these complicated and messy times. With a sorrowful and joyful heart, we pray in the holy name of the One, Jesus, the Christ. Amen

Jenn Luong

Augsburg Campus Ministry Pastoral Intern

 

A Prayer of Appreciation for the Life and Work of Congressman John Lewis

We on the Campus Ministry team, offer a prayer of appreciation for the life and social justice work of Congressman John Lewis:

As a student at Fisk University John Lewis was dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and he devoted his life to racial justice and equity working decades as an organizer and activist. Before serving 17 terms as U.S. House Representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, he spent his life in service to others. 

Lewis was arrested more than 40 times protesting segregation. He was involved in lunch counter sit-ins; freedom rides on interstate buses, he was the youngest speaker and one of six planners for the 1963 March on Washington.  

Congressman Lewis was a beautiful brown genuinely gentle giant in nature who was a fierce advocate for the culture. Some of his most famous words are just as relevant if not more so today than when he spoke them nearly 55 years ago. “We’re tired of being beaten by policemen. We’re tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again,” the 23-year-old Lewis said in a speech at the Lincoln Memorial. “We want our freedom and we want it now! – CNN

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

– A tweet from June 2018

Today we offer a scripture and prayer of gratitude and encouragement:

Matthew 6: 33-34  But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Good and eternal God, we grieve with all who mourn the life and legacy of your beloved servant Congressman John Lewis. We offer words of appreciation for a life of sacrifice and service well lived.  Kingdom building God, we lift our heavy hearts in gratitude for he has fought the good fight of faith. We pray he has entered your eternal rest.  We thank you that he experienced a sense of call to social justice work and activism at a very young age. May we pick up the mantle left behind from all the great leaders of the Civil Rights movement. The words of Jesus instruct us to seek first your kingdom and your justice with a promise that everything we need God knows and God will provide.  May young and old activists and pursuers of justice, inclusion, and love pick up the mantle with the same passion and conviction. Help us to recognize how important and sacred our right to vote is as a peaceful and nonviolent tool to create a more perfect union. 

May the dedication and devotion to equity and justice be our life’s passion. As we face “Today’s trouble, that is enough for today” may we move without fear protesting to make noise loudly and often to get in good trouble, necessary trouble for the sake of our neighbors, our BIPOC siblings, for children still detained in cages at the border, and for all who continue to be exposed to the Covid-19 virus. 

Oh God of justice and peace, give us the grace and tenacity in the Spirit of Christ to not be afraid to make noise and get in good trouble to permanently dismantle all systems of oppression once and for all.  

It is in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Rev. Babette Chatman

Augsburg University Pastor

A Prayer for Breath

We on the Campus Ministry Team at Augsburg University offer a prayer for breath…the breath of life…the breath of life tragically denied George Floyd. On Monday, May 25 at approximately 8 pm in a Minneapolis neighborhood not far from Augsburg, George Floyd was pleading for breath with the knee and body weight of a Minneapolis police officer pressed upon his neck. The photos and video will steal your breath away as one white man’s vocation “to protect and serve” is disregarded in a racialized act of brutality that steals the life of a black man. Tragically, trauma and violence continue as racism and white supremacy infect our systems and institutions. We at Campus Ministry stand with our students, staff, and faculty who are crying for justice and standing for the right for all God’s beloved to breathe. God, have mercy. 

Scripture text: “Then the Lord God formed a human from the dust of the ground and breathed in their nostrils the breath of life; the human became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Let us pray:

Holy One, Holy Breath: we lift our full-throated lament to you as we hear George Floyd’s cry in our ear: “Please, I can’t breathe.” We grieve, O God, that the breath of life was extinguished yet again from another person of color in our country at the hands of police officers. Receive your dear one, George, into your merciful hands and into your eternal circle of love. Surround his family and friends with your presence and hold them in their grief and righteous anger. We pray that your Holy Spirit – the Wind of Justice – blows through the streets of Minneapolis as people gather to safely protest, cry out in pain, and demand accountability and change. Rattle the systems of oppression and topple down the white supremacy that grips our city and our nation. Uphold those who feel the trauma of this and other racialized acts of violence; give your healing to all your beloved. As we seek to breathe in this breathless moment, expand our lungs anew with your breath of life – the breath we all share as one human family created and conspired by your love. This we pray with bated breath as we hope for equality, justice, and peace. Amen. 

 

The Augsburg Campus Ministry Team:

Pastor Babette Chatman, University Pastor 

Fardosa Hassan, Muslim Student Program Associate

Sarah Swindall, Pastoral Intern

Janice Dames, Administrative Assistant

Sonja Thompson, University Organist 

Justin Lind-Ayres, University Pastor

A Prayer for Graduates

For the past forty-three days, Pastor Babette Chatman, Pastoral Intern Sarah Swindall, and I have offered “A Prayer for…” as a prayer ministry for the Augsburg University community and beyond. This Campus Ministry Office prayer journey was intended to provide support, hope, healing, and courage through the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, a time significantly altered due to the global pandemic. Our personal prayers for you and the world will continue as we hold fast to the promises of God in Christ Jesus in these trying days. But today, we complete “A Prayer for…” on May 4 – the day the Augsburg community was slated to gather at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the 2020 Commencement Ceremony. A live viewing of Augsburg’s virtual graduation will happen at the end of the month with the hope of an in-person graduation at a later date. To mark the day Augsburg’s graduation was originally scheduled, we offer A PRAYER FOR GRADUATES as graduation season begins for colleges, universities, and high schools across our country. We name the sadness that comes with alternative and somewhat muted celebrations with our inability to gather in our normal ways. But in the same breath, we celebrate the achievements of all the graduates among us as they journey forth into a future that needs their skills, gifts, compassion, stewardship, ingenuity, and loving service. So, we offer this prayer, this blessing for graduates.      

2 Corinthians 9:8:

“God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” 

Let us pray:

Gracious God of every abundant blessing: we rejoice in the achievements of this year’s graduates. We celebrate your presence in their lives through the love and support of parents, siblings, partners, family, dear friends, mentors, teachers, professors, coaches, and other community partners. We are grateful for all who have made this moment possible. Support and strengthen the graduates as they journey into unknown futures complicated by coronavirus. As they journey into these unprecedented times, may they know your guidance. In their acts of justice, may they share in every good work to which you have led them. In their concerns and fears, may they know your peace. In their faithful witness, may they know your steadfast love. Bless them and sustain them as they go forth called to serve the neighbor in your mercy. This we pray in hope and thanksgiving. Amen. 

 

Rev. Justin Lind-Ayres

A Prayer for Faith

On this last Sunday of the 2019-2020 school year, many from Augsburg Community would have been gathering together for a baccalaureate celebration. As this semester and school year comes to a close, we honor all the accomplishments of all students and especially those graduating. This has been a semester that asked a lot of students, faculty, staff and administrators: dedication, perseverance, grace and faith. By faith we have walked these past few months and together we have endured surprising challenges. We continue on with assurance in things that are hoped for.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Let us Pray,

Gracious God, strengthener of our faith and restorer of our souls, we give thanks for the many ways you work in this world to sustain our hearts. We give thanks for spiritual leaders, family, friends, strangers, fellow students and teachers, and all through whom you work to bring faith to your children. You have never failed us, O God. Though we travel strange paths and cannot know what is ahead of us, you accompany us, ever faithful and true. God, let your spirit rest on each of us this day and all the days ahead, so that we may be strengthened in spirit to live with conviction. All this in your holy name we pray. Amen. 

 

Pastoral Intern Sarah Swindall

A Prayer for All Dreamers

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, the parents of young undocumented immigrants children who are impacted by DACA and the DREAM called dreamers, had a dream of a better life. Insomnia and vivid dreams are on the rise because of the covid-virus.  Dream time and dream recall is possibly on the increase during this Pandemic. Spending time at home has changed your schedule. As we complete the end of this academic year, during the worst Virus outbreak of all  times, living during the Covid-virus Pandemic completing your study via virtual class time is an accomplishment and one to be celebrated. As we look to the future, consider your dream time as conversations and encounters with God. May this time of uncertainty give you new visions for what you hope your future world would be. As you envision-dream what this new normal post-pandemic will be. Imagine God’s wildest dream is your vision for tomorrow. We offer this scripture and A PRAYER FOR… all DREAMERS.

Jeremiah 29:11  (NRSV)

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Habakkuk 2:2-3  (NRSV)

Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;  make it plain on tablets,  so that a runner may read it.

For there is still a vision for the appointed time;  it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;  it will surely come, it will not delay.

Let us pray,

Dear Lord God, Creator of the Universe, thank you for all that you  do for us. Thank you for providing us with the strength needed to make it  through this academic year in spite of all the barriers caused by the  COVID-virus. Lord just as you visited Joseph in his dreams, you gave him a vision of a coat with many colors. You also gave him the gift to understand the meaning. We ask that you also bless us with dreams and vision that redefine our destiny.  At your appointed time, all wise God, help us to see your kingdom building work in the midst of these challenging times caused by the Pandemic.  Praising the name of the Lord, with thanksgiving and gratitude for all you have done. For giving your Angels watch over us. Your Word to the Prophet Joel, that we shall dream dreams and our young shall see visions. We pray for a vision where all humanity walks in solidarity with each other. That you oh Generous one will tear down walls, build beloved community, and that we will live as one with all of your Creation and creatures. Bless us, oh God, with sweet, heavenly dreams of your kingdom, your Kin-dom come. Now and to you, oh God, be all the glory, honor and praise for your New Day. Amen

Rev. Babette Chatman, University Pastor

 

A Prayer for Little Joys

Coronavirus-vision: it’s a thing. We see or experience most everything now through the lens of this disease as our local and global communities seek safety and communal wellbeing in our collective efforts. Constantly seeing the world and our lives through this virus, though necessary, can be frightful and downright exhausting. A change in perspective or a reorientation is welcome, however, so that our tunnel vision does not define the whole of our lives. Today I invite you to sneak a peek at the little joys emerging in your midst despite this pandemic. Reveling in moments of joy does not minimize the virus and the work before us to bring restoration and healing; rather, the little joys can provide sustenance for the journey ahead as they themselves can heal and restore. Please add your moments of gladness to this litany as we offer “A PRAYER FOR…LITTLE JOYS.”    

Isaiah 35:10:

“Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

Let us pray:

God of the giver of everlasting joy, open our hearts to the glimmers of glee that remain before us even in these days of hardship. Reorient us, if but for a moment, to notice the small things that give hope, provide inspiration, thrill the soul, and generate smirks and smiles. Hear the litany of little joys we are called to notice now, in a moment of quiet reflection with our bodies attuned to gladness: flowers breaking through dirt; a fresh cup of brewed coffee or tea; turning in a final paper or finishing a project; discovering a new Netflix series to watch; the unexpected (fury or wiggly) visitor in a Zoom call; aromas of baked items filling the apartment; children playing and laughing (while social distancing) in the street; a cardinal chirping in the tree overhead; an overdue video-chat with a family member; a long walk in the morning sun; rediscovering your neighbors and neighborhood; a favorite song on the radio; a word of encouragement from a friend; acts of kindness doled out by strangers; and all our own little joys that cause sorrow and sighing to flee away. This we pray in gratitude to God. Amen.   

 

Pastor Justin Lind-Ayres