A Prayer for When the Institution Lets You Down
Rev. Kerry Greenhill © 2018

God, you know I love you,
but sometimes I find it so hard to love your people,
so hard to see your goodness
in the body we call the Church.
What is it about humankind
that makes us clutch at every opportunity for power,
cling to any advantage or chance of advancement we can grasp,
hoard our resources and protect our privilege
at the expense of any who do not resemble our own images?
Why can we not loosen our grip
on the structures and systems that put some higher than others,
that deny the preciousness of precisely those
whom Jesus welcomed, loved, healed, taught, and fed?
How did we become so fearful
of any possible change in our understanding of the world,
so anxious that a step forward for some
might mean diminished distance between us and them?

My heart aches, O God, with the weariness and despair
of seeing the same patterns play out time and again,
entrenching injustice and preventing life-giving progress.
My soul cries out with an angry shout,
as my grief and outrage and bewilderment and blame
look for somewhere to land, someone to hold accountable.
I want to cry out with Moses, “Let my people go!”
And remind those gatekeepers and fear-mongers
that Jesus is among those we have once again shut out.

Let your Holy Spirit come among us, God of the living.
Let our hearts not be hardened – even mine –
but molded instead into living flesh
that responds to the pulse and need of others.
Let your Holy Spirit speak to us once more, God of every nation,
every people, culture, language, and identity:
let our lives overflow with a Spirit-wind of new life,
new direction, visions, dreams, and hopes.
Let us break down the walls
that keep us locked in institutional mindsets,
protecting the hierarchy and defending the borders,
and become instead your faithful, brave, humble, mission-driven people,
learning from Jesus to love and serve our neighbor,
stepping out into the wide and wondrous world
to build a Kin’dom of right relationships,
a Common-wealth of whole and holy lives,
in each place we find ourselves this day and each day.

May we put our faith not in the institution,
not the denomination or the congregation,
not in bureaucracy or ideology,
but in you, I AM WHO I AM,
who cannot be contained or diminished or destroyed,
whose love never fails
and from whom nothing can ever separate us,
no matter how hard we seem to try.


Permission is granted to reproduce this liturgy for use in worship. Please include “Prayer by Rev. Kerry Greenhill, http://www.SacredStonesMinistries.org” in any printed or projected reference. If you would like to make a donation in appreciation of this resource, you can do so through PayPal here.

6 thoughts on “A Prayer for When the Institution Lets You Down

  1. I am so glad to know that there are so many other United Methodists who feel the UMC has let them down in a huge way this week. We have sacrificed justice in the name of unity and have fallen woefully short of demonstrating God’s love in the process. When I read that the UMC has been prevented from enshrining gender equality (let alone justice for LGBTQ persons) in its constitution, my heart broke. That we could not, as a church, accomplish this simple recognition in 2018 gives me profound grief. Thanks for reminding me that the church, any church, is not God.

  2. Thank you for this – it captures so much of the pain the church and its people can cause! Much needed by many, including myself at times!!

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