Pastor’s Prayer: Holding Stories

The story of love gone sadly wrong

and the cruelty of the wounded;

the story of misguided innocence

and wrong roads eagerly taken;

the story of bitterness carefully hoarded

and an accountbook full of tears;

the story of pain uncomforted

and loneliness at the sticking place;

the story of grief unrequited

and the collapse of unrealized dreams;

the story of sanity stormed at the gate

and the sharp stab of personal betrayal.

Congregational life in all its sadness.


I hold these stories one by one.

gingerly wiping the tears,

and tucking in the edges,

assuring everyone that even their story

is bordered by your love.

The stories are not my own

but in midnight’s darkness they ache

like a phantom limb.

Can you gather this in your arms?

Shepherd me, O God,

beyond my tears.

I want to sleep in your house forever.

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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