Thursday, May 5, 2016
Holy One, we come before You, led by the glory of your gospel of compassion and love: hear our prayers, in your mercy. Let our prayer rise like incense on the morning breeze; let us bow before the Almighty One, Creator of All.
Keep us as the apple of your eye, secure in your tender care, that we may serve You and your creation, O God.
Give us the strength to resist evil in all its forms, uplifted by the power of the Holy Spirit, we pray. Help us seek to be not just right but merciful, that we may never act out of malice or fear to hurt others. Help us see the face of Christ in the outcast, the oppressed, and the suffering, to serve the common good in Christ's name.
Lord Jesus, you know the cares and concerns, the joys and sorrows that have been made known to us. In your undying love, O Savior, cast the light of hope and healing upon those we now name.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
I walked outside into our backyard garden yesterday, and was amazed at how quickly all the hostas and ferns had suddenly unfurled and covered the wakening landscape. The Jacob’s ladders have elfin, white flowers hanging from their leaves like wee bells that sway in the slightest breeze. The red buds have shed a carpet of faded delicate fuchsia blossoms all across the landscape like confetti, and in their place on the branches are diminutive, heart-shaped leaves that flutter in the wind like tiny toddler hands clumsily clapping their delight.
There’s growth, and anticipation, and hope in each new sprout from the ground. Dutch iris with their feet in puddles left from Monday’s rain prepare to surge into bloom, but not yet, not yet. A woodpecker has discovered that a pine in the common ground beyond the fence is filled with insects, and has already worked a pattern of holes all over the rough bark like the brogues on a pair of wingtip shoes or tatted lace, hammering a spiraling, pointillist tale of his search for sustenance, his drumroll also warning me that this tree may not be long for this world. But still, this is the way of things, and this is where I go to feel what poet Wendell Berry calls “the peace of wild things.” This is where things grow mostly despite me rather than because of me, at this point.
Being a gardener is a humbling enterprise, at least the way we do it. Long ago our family surrendered the idea of a manicured, orderly system of plantings. We just couldn’t keep that up. Instead, we hopefully hacked holes into the clay that was all we had left after years of erosion, poked in a few bargain plants that supposedly could handle all the shade and poor soil, and hoped for the best.
A few years ago, this was just a barren hillside. There were plants that were placed carefully in their spots who lasted a season, maybe two, before feebly subsiding without a trace. Yet each spring, something amazing starts to happen. This year it’s the ferns and the groundcover—some of them are naturalizing, declaring their independence and asserting title to their own spots where once it seemed nothing could grow. Now the plants were claiming the hillside for their own, finding the good soil and the perfect light by themselves. Just as in Jesus’s Parable of the Sower that we read in Matthew, a balance has been achieved between the soil and the seed, sunlight and shade, boggy areas and dry areas. There is more than simply science or even art involved in how hearts, sometimes hardened from abuse or neglect, can nonetheless be transformed into the foundation for new growth in Christ.
I often think Jesus would have recognized this landscape—after all, most of the land of Palestine was also hilly and marginal, and coaxing life from the rocky soil and uneven precipitation was far more likely to fail than to succeed. His listeners understood this far better than most of us do, as our knowledge and care of the land has become more and more marginalized in our daily experience.
Yet to be a gardener or a farmer is to trade in hope, and to refuse to give up even when the odds for abundant growth seem long, indeed. But Jesus encourages us to plant anyway, yes—but also to be willing to receive the gospel in faithfulness, in response to the promise that the gospel will bear fruit in those who receive it in a spirit of compassion and joy.
Who knows where the gospel will go, where it will take root and flourish? Yet we must be willing to proclaim it in our words and deeds just as the Sower scatters seed. We can learn from the garden that one can’t simply will new growth into being, nor will it follow our schedule. But the garden also suggests that the life that Christ has borne into the world can take root in the most unlikely of spots, and that all hearts potentially remain fertile fields for the flowering of grace that seeks to bear fruit in all of us. Jesus as Lord of Creation reminds us that transformation is not simply a precise, orderly blueprint. Rather, grace breaks through and out in the most unexpected places within us, bringing us to new life in Christ.
This was first published at Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul, May 3, 2016.
|Mother and Child, Auguste Renoir.|
Holy One, with undivided hearts uplifted before your light and truth we praise You and bless You: in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Blot out all our offenses, and by your grace bring us to repentance and amendment of life, O Lover of Souls. Purify our intentions and our wills that we may embody your love, and walk in the way of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ.
Abide within the sanctuary of our hearts, Gracious Spirit, that our lives may be a pure testimony and a new creation. Let us rededicate ourselves to the repair of the world, dedicated to the work of peace, justice, and compassion, we pray. Remain with those who are sorrowing or in distress, O Holy Comforter, and press the kiss of thy blessing on those we now name.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
|The azaleas are blooming! Hallelujah!|
Loving God, spread the tent of your protection over us today. Guide us with your loving, almighty hand that we may walk in your paths with integrity.
We fervently thank you for our abundant blessings: help us to spend our time numbering them rather than our worries. Bring us within your enclosure, that we may abide there forever, rejoicing that we are your own.
Embrace us, Loving One, despite our manifold faults, for we seek to be worthy of You. Let our lives sing out a testimony of your love and faithfulness, your compassion and your forgiveness. Help us to speak in love, never in anger; help us to act with charity and forthrightness to all we meet today.
Hear our prayers as we remember these, your beloved children, in their petitions and thanksgivings.
Monday, May 2, 2016
| On Rogation Sunday, the Rev. Pamela Dolan leads the people in asking a blessing of Shepherd Farm, |
which produces hundreds of pounds of food for the area's hungry.
Blessed Lord, we bow before You, giving thanks for all your blessings in our lives: in your mercy, hear our prayer. Turn our hearts, O God, that we may be made new in Christ, through whom all things were made. Bless and keep us, O Merciful One, that we may serve You in each other and be a blessing in the world. May we open our spirits to be one with all creation, loving your handiwork in which we have our home. Through your love, O Savior, let us seek reconciliation, and be compassionate and mindful of our actions upon all living things. Send forth your Spirit over all who are suffering or in need, precious Lord, especially those we hold in our hearts.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
|Reflections of the setting sun on the chapel altar, Church of the Holy Communion, University City, Missouri.|
Almighty God, we join the chorus of praise as the morning stars sing out a song of ongoing creation and blessing. We rise to set our feet toward thy courts, and to gather as one people around your altars to give you thanks. Make our hearts fertile fields to manifest your saving help in the world, we pray.
O Creator who established the foundations of the universe, we thank You for setting your plumb line in our hearts. Let us work for the peace, equity, and justice we see modeled in your Holy Communion. Let us seek to do the work of the company of saints in proclaiming your kingdom of peace and well-being for all. Let us live out your gospel and be living testaments to your glorious love and faithfulness in service to others.
Lord Christ, we offer you our all, for all comes from you: renew clean hearts within us, we pray. Stretch forth your healing hand over all who are suffering or in need, precious Lord, especially those we now name.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Friday, April 29, 2016
Let us never feel that we are strangers on Earth, for You have made us. All like sheep we wander, and find ourselves far from the path You set us upon, but You are near. Even though we run from You, Your Love is always there, behind and before, if only we lift up our eyes to see beyond ourselves.
Thank You, O Savior, for answering our uncertainty with steadfastness, and answering our tumults with peace beyond understanding. Make our hearts a good and pleasant land abloom with hope. You are our God; let us be your people. Stretch out your hand to those who call upon You, for you are our portion and our cup, and hold us fast.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Lord God, you bring us light and life: we gather before You in prayer, contemplating your manifold gifts to us with joy.
For all we have done to cause grief or pain, grant us repentant hearts to amend our lives, we pray. Make us seekers of wisdom and lovers of justice, O Holy One, that we may serve You and each other with love. Give us the faith and strength to work together for the common good, and to protect the weak and oppressed. Renew our hearts to live out your gospel in our lives, and hear your call to new life as disciples.
Pour out your blessing over all who call upon You, that we may find our rest within your bountiful grace, O God. We ask your healing presence rest with those in any sort of need, especially those we now name.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Holy One, we offer You our thanks and praise as we rise from our beds to do your work today. We thank You for making us a part of your glorious creation, for the splendor of earth and sky.
We thank you for the grace of a new bloom where yesterday there was only green: may we rejoice in the beauty that we too often rush past, slow down and mark your goodness to us in all things.
We thank You for the people we will meet this day, Lord Jesus, and pray that we will be a blessing to them. May our love and action be a testimony of your eternal truth and lovingkindness in all things.
Merciful God, you know our joys and concerns: bless and hallow all those for whom lift up to You as we pray.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
|Morning in the Yosemite Valley, 2011.|
Most Merciful God, You spread the canopy of love over us, and we rise rejoicing, praising your Holy Name. We know that our Redeemer lives, and we shout with joy with countless throngs of angels and archangels. To You be honor and glory, O Lord of hosts: You hold all creation within your hand, and unify it with love everlasting.
Lord Christ, draw within your tender embrace all people in their daily lives and toil: bless and hallow us, and make us blessings to others. Dayspring of Life, bend tenderly over us and draw us into your embrace, for we are your children. Holy One, make your face to shine upon us, and stretch forth your compassionate hand over those we now name.
Monday, April 25, 2016
|Stone heart embedded in the rock at Point Lobos, California.|
Most Merciful God, we thank You for the protection of your holy angels through the watches of the night. O Comforter, shelter and shield all those who are in distress, and grant them strength and perseverence.
Enfold us like little children in your mercy, Lord Christ, and forgive us our sins and offenses, we humbly beseech you. Make us gentle and faithful caretakers and friends, seeking to serve others as we serve You.
Grant us wisdom and patience, O Holy One, that we may replace our hearts of stone for hearts of tenderness and grace. Guide us in pathways of peace, and give us the humility and compassion to follow, we pray.
Send forth your Spirit of healing and comfort over all who call upon You, O God, especially those we now name.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Almighty God, blessed be your Name throughout creation: we gather around your altar with thanksgiving and joy! We raise our hearts to the Lord of Life, who is making heaven and earth. Let us offer our lives, heart and soul, as an oblation to the One who breathes love into our marrow.
Grant us, O Lord, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet when all will be gathered and redeemed as children of light. Let us seek holy fellowship with God and with each other, celebrating the love that makes us one in Christ. Spirit of the Living God, pour out your energy upon us, that we may use our talents for the glory of God. Comfort and shelter all who seek peace and rest, O Holy One, we humbly pray, and place the kiss of your blessing upon them.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
The sun rises and Earth rings out its joy and praise: come, let us join in the song to our Creator. We rise from our beds with a prayer in our hearts: that this day be holy, and that we live in amity with each other.
Bless and keep us, Lord Christ, secure in your embrace and strengthened by your gospel of compassion. Blessed Jesus, you know the worries and cares we bear in our hearts: we thank You for walking beside us, your arm around us.
Ease our fears, that we may be generous to strangers and compassionate to those in need or distress. Pour out thy healing and comfort to all who suffer any grief, pain, or anxiety, O Eternal One, especially those we now name.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Let us raise all praise and awe to our Creator, whose glory fills the skies and seas, and this fragile, beautiful Earth, our home! We hear your voice, O God, in the laughing, greening trees whose hands clap in joy before their maker.
Our voices praise You, our breath made possible by the breath of forests singing hymns of life in all its embodiments. You filled the sea with marvels, Lord; our very blood testifies to its life-giving role as the first thing You touched in creation. Grain testifies from the fields and sweet grapes are gathered; the gifts of earth feed our souls and unite us around thy table, O Christ.
Let us remember that all our lives are dependent upon your gifts of soil and sunlight, wind and rain, O Merciful Creator. Make us faithful lovers of this Earth that pulses beneath our feet and shelters us beneath its sky.
All things come from thee, O God; may we act wisdom and grace, honoring all life as images of divine mercy and favor. Heal us and embrace us, O Ground of Our Being, and pour out your blessing upon us, and upon those we now name.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
|Cranes in the window of St. Augustine's chapel on the campus of Vanderbilt University.|
Our praises rise before you, O God Most High;
Our prayers rise unto You, O Redeemer, Our Lord Jesus Christ;
Our fears we lay before you, O Holy and Eternal Abba, Father and Mother.
Our hopes we breathe in from your Eternal Love, O Savior;
Our resilience we draw from you, Abiding Holy Spirit, who lifts us and prepares us for our work in your kingdom today.
O Creator we turn into your embrace for solace and strength, and lay before you those needs for whom we pray.