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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Greg's Weekly Word: "Kyrie Eleison"

It's kind of like Uncle Jesse's catch phrase from the show Full House.

Kind of...but not quite.

If you've attended worship in the high church tradition, you may have heard this phrase repeated throughout collective prayers. Kyrie eleison. (KEE-ree-yay eh-LAY-ee-sohn) It means, "Lord, have mercy." It's a phrase that shows up in a number of Psalms (e.g. 6:2, 9:13, 27:7, 51:1, 86:16), and in the Gospels as people call out to Jesus (e.g. Matthew 15:22, Luke 18:13)

I know it's technically not a weekly word. It's two words (in Greek...and three in English). But I was really struggling to come up with a word for this week. Every one I could think of seemed to land flat in light of everything that has been happening around our world...and in my life! Our daughter had a bad concussion this past weekend, a dear friend is having serious complications after a difficult childbirth (and is back in the hospital), and another dear friend's children have COVID and are unable to start school.

As I hear more and more news, the word(s) that keep running through my mind and crossing my lips are, Kyrie eleison. "Lord, have mercy." So this week, because I just don't have the words, perhaps this can be our prayer:

Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.

For the people of Haiti -

many of whom already live in abject poverty;

still not fully recovered from a devastating earthquake eleven years ago;

in the wake of a presidential assassination and the instability, chaos, and uncertainty that follow;

dealing with another earthquake, leaving 2000 dead, 10,000 injured, and half a million children with limited or no access to food, shelter, and clean water;

with tropical storms moving through, adding hardship on top of heartache...

Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy.

For the people of Afghanistan -

fearing the uncertainty of the future, and terrified of the knowns of the persent;

trapped in a country that is no longer their own;

so desperate to flee they will die trying, falling from planes taking off or crushed by the landing gear;

women who known all too well the oppression and violence that awaits them, and children who don't - who have never known anything but relative stability and opportunity - but whose future is shrouded in darkness...

Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy.

For the people of our own country -

as a variant virus spreads, and we feel like it's another step backwards, and we wonder how much more we can take;

children and teachers and parents who are anxious and scared and just trying to do the best they can to make it through the school year;

vulnerable, medically complex, and immunocompromised people who have to reckon with the possibility of their death every day;

doctors and nurses, and hospital and healthcare workers, who are exhausted and overwhelmed;

for all who still grieve the loss of loved ones to this pandemic, and all who grieve the loss of traditions and normalcy and hope...

Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy.

For us (for me!) -

when we think we can use and abuse God's creation, and be spared the effects of stronger storms and longer droughts and more wildfires;

when we are unwilling to set aside individual pride and personal freedom in order to do what is best for everyone;

when we are more concerned with who's to blame than how to help;

when we forget that we belong to one another, and allow anything to keep us from seeing one another and treating one another as beloved children of God...*

Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy.



*Saint Teresa of Calcutta (a.k.a. Mother Teresa) once said, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

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