taking the words of Jesus seriously

Recently, the litany book Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus and Justice was released by Fresh Air Books. Red Letter Christians is thrilled to share that it was compiled and edited by RLC editor and content coordinator Britney Winn Lee, contributed to by multiple RLC writers (including our interim executive director Elaina Ramsey), and foreword-written by RLC co-founder Shane Claiborne. You’ll find an excerpt below written by Elaina.

For August only, new Red Letter Sustainers who commit to monthly donations of $10 or more will receive a Sustainer Bundle that includes a free copy of Rally! Sign up today.

 

Sometimes I’m afraid to go to sleep.

One time I dreamt that I took an Uber ride and sat in the front passenger seat, happily holding my purse, which happened to contain the friendliest squirrel. It was a lovely dream that quickly turned into a nightmare when the driver began to grope me. I woke up weeping and wryly thinking that women are more likely to be assaulted than to carry a fuzzy squirrel on their person.

Other times my nightmares terrorize me by taking physical form. As I subconsciously dream of being sexually attacked by shadowy figures, I awaken to my own screams as I blindly defend myself and repeatedly punch my partner in bed. In a shocked stupor, he does his best to calm me down.But the anguish and tears remain as I spiral into guilt over how my past traumas hurt those whom I love.

No amount of trigger or content warnings can protect survivors like me from the afflictions of such invasive and wounding dreams. Like others who’ve experienced trauma, I find myself seeking different forms of pain management—deep breathing, mindfulness, and therapy. But all of these tools can never undo the hurt that dwells within. We are always in recovery.

While trauma is often a lonely journey, the Hebrew Bible reminds me that we are never alone. For seventy years, the people of Israel endured oppression during Babylonian captivity. Yet, in their despair, they were never forsaken by Yahweh. From traumatizing exile to tepid liberation, the Israelites learned to face the future with hope as a community.

READ: Living Room Liturgy: A Prayer for Laughter 

For those of us who have survived war, abandonment, cancer, abuse, the loss of a loved one, or generational trauma, this litany is for us. May we know that we’re not alone. May we remember that faith, hope, and love endure. And during the moments and seasons when this promise does not seem true, when peace and comfort elude us, when all we want to do is shake our fists and scream into the abyss, when we are unable to face the future with hope, may our communities hold onto hope for us and love us back to life again.

ONE: We gather in stubborn love, seeking to hold space for those whose hurts are deep and often unseen.

ALL: God of hope, comfort your people.

ONE: When sorrow becomes all-consuming and despair threatens to swallow our loved ones whole.

ALL: God of recovery, comfort your people.

ONE: Protect those whose bodies, spirits, and trust have been broken time and time again.

ALL: God of healing, comfort your people.

ONE: Be with those who sleep in fear and who seek shelter in the storm.

ALL: God of hope, comfort your people.

ONE: Strengthen the survivors among us who wrestle with doubt and depression.

ALL: God of recovery, comfort your people.

ONE: Grief upon grief. Tears upon tears. Pain upon pain.

ALL: God of healing, comfort your people. May those who are scarred by struggle be transformed by hope.

About The Author

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Elaina is the Interim Executive Director of RLC and has served with the organization since 2017 as the previous editor. A passionate community organizer and a former editor for Sojourners magazine, Elaina loves listening to people’s stories and engaging communities for social change. She holds a master's in theological studies from Wesley Theological Seminary and a master's degree in international peace and conflict resolution from American University. Elaina also serves as the executive director of a religious pro-choice organization. She resides in Ohio with her pit mix and is an avid singer, traveler, and camper.

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