This past Sunday’s sermon touched briefly on the experience of meaninglessness. The text was Genesis 1:1-5 and I focused on how the creation narrative portrays God speaking life and light and beauty and purpose into the cosmos. Yet so often, in our world and in our lives, this seems more than we can believe. We postmoderns are restless people who have difficulty accepting that there is a big story within which our individual crazy, chaotic stories can find their place. We are fragmented and unmoored people who are divided and distracted in so many ways.
As I reflected upon themes from Sunday’s sermon and on subsequent conversations, I was struck by the words of a prayer from Stanley Hauerwas’s Prayers Plainly Spoken:
Holy Lord, we have come before you fragmented people. Our lives are divided into pieces and we are unsure if the pieces when added up make up a life. What we do here, with one part of our life, seems undone there, with another part of our life. Who am I, Lord, who prays to you in this prayer? Where are we, Lord, when we so pray to you. Augustine has taught us we are restless until we find our rest in you, but this does not feel like such divine “restlessness”—it just feels confusing.
Holy Lord, make us one with ourselves and one another. Form the scattered bits of our lives, the fragments of desires, into lives capable of saying “From the beginning you, dear God, were with me.” Help us be capable of truthful memory and fervent hope so that our lives will reflect the purposefulness of your kingdom. So reflected, may our lives manifest for one another your holiness and the world may say, “They are God’s people. See how they love one another.” Amen.
Yes. From the beginning, you were with us. Give us this truthful memory, this fervent hope, this love that anchors and reconstitutes our fragmented lives.