Saturday, February 6, 2016

Prayer 1110- a prayer for the loss of a friend's daughter

Calla lily on the grounds of Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

In peace, we pray to You, Lord Christ, our hearts and faces upturned and open to your glory. Holy One, You are our shepherd; we therefore have no reason to be afraid. 

You gather us into your arms, blessed Jesus, and carry us in safety and love. We rest within your mighty embrace, O Redeemer; You cover us in the mantle of your grace and truth. Each breath we take is precious in your sight, O God; you know our lying down and our rising up. We know that we are yours forever; nothing can separate us from the love and mercy of God our Savior. 

You strengthen the trembling; You comfort those who mourn; You bear within You those who have fallen. We can endure and overcome all things through Christ; in You we root our trust and our hope. 

Holy One, we place before you the names and cares of all who call upon You this day, and ask that You grant them peace and solace.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Prayer 1109- A prayer of gratitude

Yesterday was the birthday of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. May he rest in peace, and rise in glory.

In peace and thanksgiving, we gather before You in prayer, O God and Creator of all. Inscribe a song in our hearts, O Spirit: a song of peace, a song of hope, a song of faith, a song of gratitude. 

Let us be refreshed by the cooling waters of your Truth, O Holy One, and fed by your Wisdom. Let us seek to lift each other up rather than tear each other down, honoring the beauty and dignity in every being. Let us be steadfast, true, and compassionate, bearing each other's burdens and drying each other's tears, reflecting Christ's love in every thing. 

Our hearts upraised in prayer and open to receive your word and extol your sustaining love in creation, we rest within your grace, Lord Christ. Send forth your healing Spirit to rest upon those whom we now name, we pray.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Prayer, day 1108- a time for everything

O Merciful One, we know that there is a time for everything, for our times are in your hand.

Someone's hopeful, Lord--and You are with them: May they know your presence.
Someone's laughing, Lord-- and You are with them: May they know your presence.
Someone's crying, Lord-- and You are with them: May they know your presence.
Someone's troubled, Lord-- and You are with them: May they know your presence.
Someone's being born, Lord--and You are with them: May they know your presence.
Someone's dying, Lord-- and You are with them: May they know your presence.

With the hands you have given us to do your will, we raise up these names today and ask your care to rest upon them.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Prayer 1107-for trust in God

Half Dome, Yosemite Valley.

Lord Jesus, we bend the knees of our hearts before You, and seek to give you thanks and honor with all our being. 

O God, You are our Rock: place us in the cleft of your protection as the storms of life pass by us, we pray. You set us upon the Higher Ground of your love and faithfulness, and we trust in your mercy and loving-kindness. 

Deliver us from hardness of heart, and guide us into forgiveness and compassion, to walk in the Way of Jesus. Let us walk gently upon the earth and gently with each other, as You, O Holy One, have taught us. United in our love for You, O Spirit of the Living God, we offer our souls, our selves, and our prayers before You. 

Remembering your goodness, abiding in your promises of mercy, we lift up these beloveds before You.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Prayer 1106

O God, you are our refuge and our strength, ever-abiding with us in times of trouble; we put our faith in You. We give you thanks for your saving deeds, for You who number the stars also cherish each breath in our bodies. 

May we remember that in turbulence and trials You, O Holy One, seek to calm the crashing waves in our hearts. Help us to reconcile to all whom we have sinned against, and to all who have sinned against us, Lord Christ. May we answer your call to return to your embrace, as a child runs back to the embrace of his mother. 

You hold us fast, O God, you hold us fast: may we sigh and turn into your love in trust and in peace. Accept our prayers for our loved ones, especially those we now name.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Prayer 1105

The road taken.

Almighty Creator, this day is a gift from you, and we sing out praises for your blessings upon us! We thank you for a blue-true dream of sky, and remember your handiwork in all that is made, O God. Encircle us with your protection and inspire us by your lovingkindness, that we may serve you this day. Guide us into ways of wisdom and peace, that we may dance at the foundations of your kingdom. As angels attended you in the wilderness, Lord Christ, send forth angels to stroke the brows of those who weep our mourn. Bend near, O Holy One, to receive our offered hearts, and to hear our whispered prayers. We lift up especially those we now name.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Prayer 1104- in honor of my father

Today marks ten years since my father passed away. Here he is doing one of his favorite things- a crossword puzzle. Although he dropped out of high school in the weeks after Pearl Harbor to enlist in the Navy,
he was a voracious reader and interested in lots of things.

In the bright light of morning, O Gracious One, we come before You, worshipping and giving you thanks and praise. Direct our steps into paths of peace and forgiveness, O Holy God, that we may walk humbly with our God. 

We give thanks for all who have loved us, even imperfectly, as we ourselves imperfectly love others. 
Help us to know and consider our own faults before we criticize others, and remember our own sins before we stand in judgment. 
Lord Jesus, we remember loved ones who have passed into your embrace: may we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom. 

Make of us a light of compassion and love to those around us and strengthen us to serve You, We pray, O God. Send forth your Spirit of healing and peace, Merciful God, and breathe your blessing upon those we now name.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Prayer, day 1103

One of the things I liked to do as a child was drive down the backroads of Oklahoma with my dad. Here are some greaffiti on  a bridge support on the old Routh 66 just outside of Sapulpa.

Merciful God, you encompass us in a mother's love and guide and protect us each moment. We laud and magnify your Name. Create in us the will to love, to encourage, to persevere, to act to being about your kingdom. Open our eyes to our brothers and sisters who need our help. Help us to see Jesus in the soul in pain, the homeless wanderer, the person right next to us. Help us to manifest your love in the world. And we ask your blessing upon those whom we raise up in our prayers.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Prayer 1102

What appears to be a grove of aspen is in fact all one tree. His name is Pando,
and he is estimated to be 80,000 years old and he covers 106 acres. Photo by J. Zapell.

Almighty God, accept our offered thanksgiving for your mercies, renewed every moment. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, the One who upholds all creation and stands alongside us in love and compassion! 

Lord Jesus, you encompass us in your wisdom and tenderness: we worship you with all our hearts. 
Holy God, Lover of Souls, we abide in your everlasting mercy; we seek and we are found. 
Help us to be transformed in loving and by being loved, anchored within your life-giving Spirit. 
May we let love heal us, strengthen us, free us, enflame us, remake us as we are called to be. 
You, O God, are our root and our sky: may we be like green olive trees in the house of God. 

Comfort the afflicted and embrace the sorrowful, O Holy One, and place your mantle of protection over those we now name, we pray.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Prayer 1101

Almighty One, we praise You, grateful for your embrace, for You are our Rock and our Shield, our All-in-All. Your Love, O God, endures forever: your compassion and care for all of creation holds us fast. 

Merciful One, forgive us for all our offenses, and renew right spirits within us, that we turn our face toward your light always. May we remember that our love of You calls us into unity, fellowship, justice, and peace, that we reject jealousy, fear, and hatred. 

We pray to You for all who are in danger, pain, or anxiety, and for those who have lost their way. Press the kiss of your blessing to the brow of all who call upon You, Lord Christ, especially those we now remember.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Prayer 1100

Robert Frei, head of Emil Frei Associates, passed away earlier this week. His company, founded by his grandfather, created beautiful works of stained glass for churches all over the country, This beautiful depiction of the Last Supper graces St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Ferguson, Missouri.

I will rise from my bed with a song of joy on my lips, for the Almighty One is my portion and my cup. Breathe on me, Breath of God, and inspire me to purify my heart and set my feet within thy holy places. 

Grant me a discerning, tender heart, that I may walk gently upon the living earth, and treasure all that dwells therein. 
Teach me to love as You love, remembering your grace and mercy that binds up even the wounded heart. 

Your love, Lord Jesus, fills my soul to overflowing; I know that my Redeemer lives. 

Your way, O God, stretches before me like a verdant valley, and beckons me to take my rest at peace. 

Guided by your saints, open our hearts to receive your Love, O Holy One, and let your tender compassion rest upon those we place before You.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Prayer 1099

Lord Christ, we sing a song of praise for the mighty deeds you are doing, and open our hearts to you in joyful thanksgiving. 

Help us ascend to the seat of your wisdom, O Holy One, that we may treasure the mysteries of your abundant grace. Help us, O Lord, to rise above our fears and turn toward your light with hope renewed, for You are our Redeemer. Keep us strong in faith, O Holy Spirit, that we may live and serve You in gladness throughout each moment. 

Bring us into fellowship and unity with one another, bearing each other's burdens and cherishing each other in amity and peace. Draw us within your sheltering arms, Blessed Savior, and grant the comfort of your embrace to those we lift before You.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Prayer 1098

Yesterday, we at Good Shepherd were blessed by a visit from Bishop George Wayne Smith,
who preached a wonderful sermon.

We rise from our beds to give thanks to You, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, for your love that passes all understanding. 

Who are we, O God, that You should take notice of us? Yet your mercies are new every morning. 

Bring us to completion in You, O Lover of Souls, and fill us with a reflection of your loving-kindness and faithfulness, we pray. At our rising, may we seek to embody Christ in the world; at our resting, may we sink into your loving embrace.

Secure in your compassion, strengthened by your grace and care, may we be guided by your Holy Truth to love and service this day, O Savior. 

We ask your blessing O God, on the works of our hearts and the works of our hands, that we be agents of justice, healing and unity. Stretch out your hand of blessing over all your people, and especially over those we now name.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Jesus Moment: Speaking to the Soul, January 24, 2016

Christ preaching in the synagogue, Visoki Decani Monastery, Kosovo 14th century.

Throughout the Gospel of Luke, the Holy Spirit is actively in pursuit of people. Zechariah was told that he would have a son, who would be “filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth (Luke 1:15). A few verses later, an angel appears to Mary, and tells her that through the power of the Most High, the Holy Spirit will come upon her, and she will bear a child who will be the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Six short verses later, Mary’s kinswoman Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and sings a song of praise at the approach of Mary, the God-bearer. Elizabeth’s unborn child leaps for joy, animated by that same Spirit, just as had been foretold to his father Zechariah. After John’s birth, Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit, and overflows with a song of prophecy and power (Luke 1:67). After Jesus’s own birth, as he is being presented in the Temple, the Holy Spirit guides Simeon into the Temple to see the baby Jesus, and elicits a song of thanksgiving and joy (Luke 2: 26-27).

In our gospel today, Jesus himself has been filled with the Holy Spirit after his baptism and time in the wilderness. That same Spirit leads him to the synagogue—a place where people think they know him, where they have categorized him in safe, predictable ways: this is Jesus, the carpenter’s son, raised in humble circumstances. And, really, are we that much different from Jesus’s neighbors? We know who Jesus is—or, we think we do. It’s funny—we think Jesus is just like us, and that makes us feel safe, smug even, sometimes. But Jesus is having none of that. Rather, Jesus calls us to be just like him. And that’s an enormous difference.

Right now we are roiled by political turmoil both within our church and without, and perhaps that’s the nature of human society—that very term “human society” implies that our eyes are upon ourselves rather than opened to see what God is doing among us in every moment. If the events of recent weeks have shown us anything, it’s that whenever we think we have Jesus sorted out into nice, neat categories, we are in danger of distorting his gospel message. We like the domesticated Jesus. The Jesus sung about in children’s songs, the ones who loves the little children of the world, the one who’s got the whole world in his hands, the sweet, silent baby lying in the manger.

But, as the Church especially, that is not the Jesus we really need, and that is not the Jesus we get, if we pay attention. The Gospel of Luke makes it clear again and again that the Spirit moves where She will, and fills us with power, coming upon us and resting upon us not to be filled with certainty but instead with possibility. That same Spirit which inspired Mary’s rebellious shout of prophecy and praise in the Magnificat pours forth from Jesus in today’s gospel. The words of Isaiah, coming from the mouth of Jesus, give us a foretaste here at the start of his ministry of what he is going to be about—and by extension, when the Church hears this passage, we are reminded of what WE are to be about. Called by the Holy Spirit, we have been anointed—set apart and specially commissioned—to proclaim through our words and our actions to

Bring good news through our words and deeds to those who are vulnerable and impoverished, both in body and in spirit;

Announce release and true freedom—the freedom not found in society but in the Beloved Community of Jesus-- to all who are captives, both in body and in spirit;

Open the eyes and heal those who are blind, both in body and in spirit;

Unbind the oppressed and liberate them from all that marginalizes them, both in body and in spirit;

Proclaim the Jubilee, a time of spiritual and physical abundance and completion—truly a rebellious act in a time of defined by real (and, for some of us, imagined) scarcity and want.

Body and spirit, body and spirit—these are unified and brought to life through the power that Jesus speaks through to us even today as we listen to this gospel. This is the blueprint, the battle plan, for those of us who dare to call ourselves children of God. Animated by his willingness to surrender to the Holy Spirit, Jesus has just dropped a truth bomb before us, and, just like those in the synagogue, the eyes of each and every one of us can’t help but be fixed upon Jesus as the meaning sinks in. Here, in the Episcopal Church, our Presiding Bishop joyfully and repeatedly reminds us that we are members of the Jesus Movement. But we can’t be part of the Jesus Movement unless we also see that now is a Jesus Moment. The Spirit seeks to shake us loose but set us free. We are called to be a Spirit-filled people, with each moment a revolution—a literal turning and reordering from the power of culture to the power of the Holy Spirit. This is our Moment. The Spirit of the Lord is upon us.

(This was first posted at Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul on January 24, 2016.)