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Reform Magazine | December 7, 2023

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God of compassion

God of compassion

Nadia Bolz-Weber offers a prayer for resurrection

Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her . . . he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. (Luke 7:11–15)

God of compassion,

As you did in Nain, enter our city gates. Enter into the sombre roads down which our hearses drive and the glad streets down which our children run. Enter the parks where the junkies shoot up and the yuppies listen to jazz. Walk uninvited into starter mansions and cheap motel rooms that charge by the hour. Stroll into the cool-air freezer section where the pregnant women escape the heat and the bus stop benches where the weary wait. Enter every law office and adult bookstore. Step into the spaces we say we feel your awesomeness and the places where we claim your forsakenness. Enter our city gates, God of Compassion, as you did the city of Nain. And bless.

Bless the things we mistakenly think are already dead. Bless that which we have already begun to carry out of town to bury. Bless our rocky marriages and our college-age kids who smoke too much pot. Bless the person at work whom we love to hate. Bless the chronically sick. Bless the one who has no one. Bless what we call insignificant and which you call magnificent. Bless it all and love what only you can love: the ugly, abandoned, and unsanitary in the wash of humanity upon which you have nothing but a gleaming compassion—when we have none.

God of Compassion who saw the widow of Nain, we thank you for seeing us. For seeing our loneliness and our bravery. For seeing the times we can’t say what we need to. For seeing the ones who have never felt like they are enough, but whom you know already are and always have been. For seeing the moments when we are more than we thought we could be. For seeing what no one else can or will. Thank you for seeing as beautiful what we call ugly. In your compassion, teach us to see each other…

This is an extract from an article published in the June 2021 edition of Reform

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