Scripture: 2 Kings 18 – 19
Key verse: (19:1) “When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord.”
Reflection: I went to seminary with a guy who wore sackcloth. As you can imagine, not the usual for walking the streets of Princeton nor the easiest for carrying a backpack loaded with folders and theology books.
As crazy as it seems, Shane was a living witness. Someone willing to set aside societal conventions and model a prayer for something wholly otherwise, and actually really uncomfortable.
Hezekiah went to the temple to pray, dressing to remind himself of his humanity before the holy God. In his prayer he petitioned, “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.” Sure enough, God heard his prayer and spared Jerusalem.
As a young seminarian, I didn’t take Shane seriously enough. In fact, I’m embarrassed I ridiculed his intentions. What I know now is the scratchiness of that sackcloth was more bearable to Shane than the brokenness of our world. Shane wore sackcloth because his heart was barbed and bruised by the injustice of inner city Philly; his garb was the starting point of a daily prayer “You alone are God over all the kingdoms of this earth.” Shane eventually left seminary and started The Simple Way an urban ministry in Philadelphia with the hope for creating a different kind of kin-dom on this earth.
Prayer: God of grace and truth,
We feel hope on the horizon;
and yet we still feel hesitant.
We kindle an Easter faith;
Knowing that flesh is God’s yes.
As risky as the incarnation is;
We give thanks for Christ our Savior
And our Creator God who navigate
The complexities of human life and foster resilience when we struggle.
Lord, hear our prayers today – the prayers
We can share, and all that goes unspoken.
Author: Lisa Hickman
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].