I wrote this prayer to end a sermon reflecting on the last year of pastoral ministry, and to cast vision on the year ahead. The text for the sermon was Mark 2:1-12, the familiar story in which some men tear open a roof and lower their paralyzed friend through the hole so Jesus can heal him. My question as I prepared the sermon—”What about the guy whose roof got torn up?”
We are Your people, the people of well-kept houses:
We have lawns and we mow them. We have flowerbeds, and we weed them.
We have furniture, and we dust them. We have carpets, and we sweep them.
We live well-ordered, predictable lives—managing our homes well, and minding our own business.
After all, cleanliness is next to godliness, isn’t it?
Then, the doorbell rings—and there is an urgent knock on our door. We open it to find—You.
You, with Your piercing eyes that know us and see us.
You, with the lines in Your face, that say so clearly that you like us and love us.
You, with Your voice so sure, so stable, so ready to command wind and waves.
You, with Your dusty, muddy feet.
You, with Your disregard for using a coaster.
You, with Your ignorance of what is only right and proper and according to etiqutte.
You, with your unconcern come bowling into our homes, bringing your people with us:
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
and, to our horror,
“Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest,
and the leader as one who serves.”
Lord Jesus, come, and set us free from well-kept lawns and weed-free flowerbeds.
Liberate us from dusted end-tables and vacuumed carpets.
Tear open our roofs and teach us a new kind of housekeeping:
May our souls be cleaner than our countertops,
Our compassion more attractive than our carpets,
Our mercy more noticeable that our mowing.
Come, and stay with us awhile. For you have said,
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.