United Church of Christ

Knowing God

Moses put a veil on his face. - Exodus 34:33b (NRSV)

Moses had been in the presence of the Lord, and his face was shining so bright it was terrifying the people. He had to use a face covering so they would not run from him.

People who know God are often scary. The director of the New York City New Sanctuary Coalition, Ravi Ragbir, knows God. He can drive you to deep reckoning with light. You never leave his presence not knowing you have to do something about immigration and its vomit of human pain.

Wendell Berry, Audre Lord, James Baldwin, Xiuhetzcatil Martinez, all know God. Listen to them pray. They might not believe in God or call themselves a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim. But they know how to pray. People who know God know how to pray:

Holy Spirit, you know how modestly scared we are. (Borrowed from Wendell Berry)
Help us to bear the intimacy of scrutiny. (Borrowed from Audre Lord)
The biggest challenge the planet faces in shifting our human consciousness. (Borrowed from James Baldwin)
The planet doesn't need saving. We do. (Borrowed from Xiuhtezcatil Martinez)
Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced. (Borrowed from James Baldwin)

We begin this borrowed mash-up of a prayer, beckoning the reckoning presence of the Almighty, the great powerful GOOD unknown. In the middle we go to confession. In the end we put on our face. We glow with light, bright light and lightness of spirit.

You can read it responsively between leader and people or you can just take it for a prayerful walk.

Keep the veil on your face so you don’t scare people.

Prayer
Keep our prayers in a posture of beckoning, confessing, and facing the things we need to face, with light lightness. Amen.

Donna SchaperAbout the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Francis: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.

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