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I’ve heard from a few readers about my extended absence from RJ. Not to worry (though I doubt this is a huge concern for many!)–I’ve just been away because of the needs of (first) the Festival of Faith & Writing, and then for extended travel with Calvin students. But I’ll be back in August.

In the meantime, I couldn’t pass up this prayer from my dear friend and colleague, Jane Zwart. It’s such a delight to be able to share these with you; they always deeply bless me. Jane prayed this prayer in her home church on the Sunday that featured Jeremiah 2 as one of the lectionary readings, so you’ll hear echoes of that throughout.

Dear God,

You have loved and reprimanded us from the beginning. You have watched us go after worthless things and have seen us become worthless ourselves. And you have spent everything on redeeming us. Your love is that fierce and that world-changing: you keep seeking us out, conspiring to meet us and to offer us living water: an end to our foolishness and quick fixes. So find us again, and remind us again to seek only you, to ask “Where is the Lord?”.

Remind us to ask where you are, Lord, even if we don’t have our bearings at the moment. Some of us don’t. Some, having come to this bewildering country, have found refuge but are still waiting for the word “home” to attach itself to the ground beneath our feet. Some of us are in other kinds of limbo, waiting on the answers of employers, of voters, of doctors, of denominations. 

So we pray for those overwhelmed with work and for those who are underemployed. We pray for our fractious country and for nations where people have learned to expect far less than we do: less food, less say, less justice. We pray that what your church takes to heart is not, first, where the church stands, but whom we follow.

And we pray, Holy Spirit, that you would put the question “Where is the Lord?” on the tongues of those of us who feel lost so that we remember that we need only to follow Jesus. Remind us that Christ is here,  hemming us in, holding us up. Remind us that his heart is our home.

Remind us to ask where you are, Lord, even if we don’t know where to go with our grief: our grief for those we have loved, from the baby who never drew breath to the elder whose life spanned almost a century; our grief over losses of strength and health and independence. 

And we pray, Holy Spirit, that you would urge us to ask “Where is the Lord?” so that we may remember the stations of the cross, that Jesus has gone before us in death and in grief, in loss and in suffering.

As for those of us who look around and see a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and deep darkness; who look at Gaza brought to its knees and the earth cracked by extreme heat, who look at labor camps and camps pitched beneath bridges, who look at prisons and children’s hospitals, and ask “Where is the Lord?” in anger or incredulity, remind us that the Kingdom of God is near. Remind us that it is ours to prepare the way of the Lord. Remind us that our hearts can be your home.

From so many different places, God, that only you can find us all, we ask: Where is the Lord? And you answer us: you are here,  and you have gone before us. Let us follow you in love and in resurrection. Amen.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Jennifer L. Holberg

I am professor and chair of the Calvin University English department, where I have taught a range of courses in literature and composition since 1998. An Army brat, I have come to love my adopted hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Along with my wonderful colleague, Jane Zwart, I am the co-director of the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing, which is the home of the Festival of Faith and Writing as well as a number of other exciting endeavors. Given my interest in teaching, I’m also the founding co-editor of the Duke University Press journal Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture. My book, Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith, was published in July 2023 by Intervarsity Press.


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