Sunday Prayers: Pride and Juneteenth in the Pandemic

Detail of the Rainbow Black Madonna of Częstochowa by Elżbieta Podleśna.

In the last month we have celebrated Pride even as states seek to restrict rights for transgender people. We have seen the adoption of Juneteenth as a national holiday in the United States while many state governments seek to restrict voting rights, which will disproportionately impact communities of color. Even as my children (and now whole household) reach full vaccination status this week, there are few mask-wearers in my low-vax rate county and millions of children and adults around the world do not yet have access to the vaccine. The impact of the virus on families and communities continues to be devastating, even as it is beginning to feel easier and less risky in my life. As I try to hold these joys and sorrows together in my life, I sense an invitation to pray.

Pray with me.

God who is with us in our celebration,
God who is with us in our grief and anger,
You know that we live in a complicated world.
Show us how to hold that messiness
Without being overwhelmed.

Guide us to remember our parents and grandparents,
Who were scarred by the conditions of the Great Depression and wartime rationing
At the time when our own pandemic scars are beginning to form,
As we try to get distance from the last year
And reach for normalcy wherever we can find it.

Remind us to hold and feel that which is good and joyful.
At the same time,
Remind us to hold and feel that which is sad and painful.
Pride and Juneteenth contain all of these.
Rainbows and red punch do not erase
Histories of violence and exclusion.
As we sit with the complexity of these celebrations,
Give us the courage to see and name the gaps
Between our values and our actions,
Personally and collectively,
And always seek to close them.

Give us the courage to be humble and curious
In a world full of misinformation,
Where the misinformed are exploited
In ways that benefit the powerful.

Help us to resist the destructive impulses of anger
But to heed the parts of our anger that call us into transformation.
Where bitterness grows from our wounds,
Remind us that we are not alone.
Help us to find healing disinfectant in our relationships,
To find the strength to pick up the phone and reestablish connections,
To repair and to trust again, where possible.

God of death-and-resurrection,
Hear our prayer.
Amen.

Nancy Ross

Nancy Ross is an art history professor by day and a sociologist of religion by night. She lives in St. George, Utah with her husband and two daughters and co-hosts the Faith Transitions podcast.

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4 Responses

  1. Valerie Ackroyd says:

    A beautiful, heartfelt prayer that resonates with me.

  2. Katie Rich says:

    This is beautiful, Nancy. I too had been thinking about the intersections of Pride, Juneteenth, and the pandemic, and I appreciate your words and perspective here.

  3. Lee Bennion says:

    Thank you. This was a lovely read.And I loved the image too.

  4. Marilyn Hawes says:

    thank you for this prayer.

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