The Common Good

Take From Me These Myths: A Prayer

Good and gracious God,

Today, like the rest of the world, 
when I woke I wrapped myself in myths. 
They are comfortable and warming in what can seem like such a cold world. 
Yes, they are old and worn but they are familiar 
and even the most fashion forward find comfort in this thread-worn garb. 

They tell me that while it may not be fair
that 1,600 children die from hunger everyday,
I can do nothing about it.

They silence my own judgment of myself
when I put a quarter in the cup of a homeless man
as I walk on by the lack in his life
to live into the abundance of mine.

They tell me that the rich shall inherit the Earth,
and that they will be beneficent rulers.
The myths that I wear tell me
that giving to the rich is better than giving to those in need,
so we as a nation heap blessings upon the rich
expecting 'trickle down' to make it rain on those of us below.
Yet, we remain drenched in our inability 
to pay the rent,
pay for college,
save for the future...
at times, even believe we have much of a future.

So, today, like the rest of the world, when I woke I wrapped myself in myths. 
They are comfortable and warming in what can seem like such a cold world. 
Yes, they are old and worn but they are familiar 
and even the most fashion forward find comfort in this thread-worn garb. 

They tell me that violence, while abhorrent, 
is inescapable, a part of the reality of life - 
that violence is the path we must travel to find peace.
Religion reinforces this myth of Redemptive Suffering
suggesting that suffering builds character,
that you, O God, won't give us more than we can handle,
ignoring the realities of the families who have survived
the loss of loved ones through violent acts:
War, Domestic Violence, Gang Violence, suicide.

Even in the names we use,
we see how we believe this myth:
The world calls one of humanity's most violent acts 
The Holocaust, which means 'sacrifice by fire,'
Suggesting that there might be something good 
or even of God in it.
Those whose lives it destroyed call it
Ha Shoa — the calamity.

So, I wrap myself in myths. 
They are comfortable and warming in what can seem like such a cold world. 
Yes, they are old and worn but they are familiar 
and even the most fashion forward find comfort in this thread-worn garb. 

They tell me that the least of these deserve what they get,
that “But for the grace of God, there go I,”
believing that somehow God's grace falls more abundantly on me.

They tell me that I must shut off who God created me to be
and live into the image the world expects of me
because who I am on the inside won't be accepted on the outside.

They tell me that some are created more equal in God's eyes
and don't deserve the same rights as the rest of us
that they should be punished for being their own unique reflection of their Creator.

Loving God, 
take from me this earthly garb,
for not only are they old and thread-worn...
but they reek.
They stink of the stench of power, money and greed.
They have the foul odor of prestige, self-importance and control.
They fill my nostrils with an offensive aroma
that smacks of a history of abuse, belittlement and pain.
They exude with the suffering they let me ignore.
They ooze with the memories of the blood that has been lost.
They smell to high heaven and point to my complicity
in the lies of this world.

Redeeming God,
take these Robes of Myth from me
and let me walk naked through this world if I must,
but I wish to walk through it blindly no longer.
I wish to breathe in the brilliance of creation 
and leave behind the stinking myths of humanity.

Help me, my God.
Free me, my God.

Help us, O God.
Free us.

Amen.

Mark Sandlin currently serves as the minister at Vandalia Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, NC. He received his M. Div. from Wake Forest University's School of Divinity and has undergraduate degrees in Business Administration and English with a minor in Computer Science. He's an ordained minister in the PC(USA) and a self-described progressive.

Image: Headless sculpture ancient goddess Nike and vandalized statue of heroic figure in the abandoned studio of sculptor Nikolaos Pavlopoulos in Athens Greece, February 3, 2012. Photo by dimitris_k/shutterstock. 

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