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From Jennifer L. Holberg:

These days, we need as many good words as we can get. That’s probably always been true. My friend, Jane Zwart, has a particular gift for them—in poetry and in prayer. And sometimes there’s no distinction between the two. Nor should there be. I’m grateful to have these particular words this week—and I thought the readers of The 12 might be, too.


By Jane Zwart

Almighty God,

Holy, Holy, Holy are you, and guilty are we. Guilty of breaking your commandments and, perhaps, your heart; guilty of self-aggrandizement and self-destruction. We are guilty of using your name in vain and guilty of assuming that our opinions are more or less as good as your judgment—as if our thoughts were your thoughts. And we are guilty of worshipping false gods: the gods of prosperity and intelligence, the gods of conventionality and country. We are guilty of being faithless and grasping and mean. We are guilty of coming first, each of us, in our own hearts, and we do not know how to live with your fire, before your throne.

But there is nowhere else to live except before your Throne—you are the Master of the Universe. So with fear and trembling, we ask you to burn away everything that separates us from you.

Holy, Holy, Holy are you, and we—we are distracted. Our days sprout urgencies: doctor’s appointments and car repairs, tasks at work, chores at home, projects at school. Our inboxes get cluttered, our phones chirp, our media scroll headlines, and soon enough we are full of our own busyness. And, yes, sometimes we are busy doing good—or at least trying to—but we know that, at the same time, this is true: we are your debtors when it comes to awe. Somehow, even as we live in a creation that is overrun with—and that runs on—your glory, we fail to praise you.

So help us to be still and know that you are God. Move us to mimic the quick wonder of our kids, who, without any urging, throw themselves down in the snow and make angels.

Holy, Holy, Holy are you, and we are fragile. And at times we can rejoice in this precious thing: our fragility—as we do with new parents—but mostly our fragility seems like a liability.

So we pray for those who are trying to be strong. We pray for the Syrian who tries to assure his children of a coming peace that he no longer has any faith in. We pray for the Rohinga women pregnant with their persecutors’ offspring. We pray for the children starving in Yemen, their eyes scrubbed even of hunger.

We pray for those who mourn and for those who spend hours tethered to IVs for chemotherapy. We pray for those waiting for the antidepressants to work, for a bone to mend, for an illness to subside.

We pray these things because we are fragile and you are Almighty. We pray them because we are mortal and you are the Resurrection and the Life.

Holy, Holy, Holy are you, and, astonishingly and incompletely, holy are we. Holy are we because you made us to be like you, and holy are we because your grace remakes us. Hold and uphold us, God of Power and Might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory, and we worship you. Amen.

Jane Zwart

Jane Zwart teaches English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also co-directs the college's Center for Faith and Writing.


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