Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New Every Morning: Speaking to the Soul, March 29, 2017

Morning Prayer at dawn on the beach, Matanzas, Cuba, 2017.

Yesterday was a hard day. I went to bed exhausted, emotionally and physically spent, having presided at the funeral of a dear young man and neighbor, and right before bed being informed of the death of a long-time friend and mentor from my teaching days. But in my ten years’ journey toward ordination, one of the blessings that has sustained me and guided me has been the cultivation of a rule of life, a set of spiritual, mental, and physical practices that have helped shape my identity as a Christian, as well as as a pastor, deacon, and minister.

The grace of having a rule of life is that, after giving myself a few hours’ sleep, even while still a bit heart-sick and tired, I rose as I do every morning and prayed morning prayer. What a blessing to see that today is the feast day of John Keble, one of the leaders of a 19th century reform and revival movement in the Church of England known as the Oxford Movement, which, besides encouraging the recovery of practices and traditions that drew the Church of England back to its Catholic roots, inspired and shaped the spirituality of Christina Rosetti, the poet.

Keble, besides helping to launch the Oxford Movement, is himself one of the finest poets in the Anglican tradition, and wrote a book of poems entitled The Christian Year, which was intended to inspire devotion to the Prayer Book, that most Anglican collection of worship and theology. Each Sunday and holy day of the Church Year receives a poem, as well as holy days. At the beginning of this beautiful work, Keble wrote two poems, “Morning” and “Evening,” in reflecting on morning and evening prayer. Some of the stanzas from “Morning,” were used for hymn 10 in our hymnal, often used for morning prayer. So after I prayed morning prayer this morning, I listened again to these beautiful words, and let them seep into my heart:

New every morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life, and power, and thought.

New mercies, each returning day,
Hover around us while we pray;
New perils past, new sins forgiven,
New thoughts of God, new hopes of Heaven.

If on our daily course our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.

Old friends, old scenes will lovelier be,
As more of Heaven in each we see:
Some softening gleam of love and prayer
Shall dawn on every cross and care.

The trivial round, the common task,
Would furnish all we ought to ask;
Room to deny ourselves; a road
To bring us daily nearer God.

Only, O Lord, in Thy dear love
Fit us for perfect Rest above;
And help us, this and every day, 
To live more nearly as we pray.

Even though the morning light has not yet broken through the shroud of night, nonetheless, the gift of a new day reminds me of the love that is our foundation through Christ our Savior—love that binds us together in one beautiful and mystical body. Even when sitting alone at my desk to pray my prayers in the morning, I am never alone. In every moment as I pray, others all over the world are praying too, and where two or three are gathered together in love, there is Christ also.

We are drawn upward into a great cloud of saints, whose witness to God can be found in something as profound as writing beautiful poetry or as mundane as helping a friend find something lost or placing a gentle hand in the hand of one awash in grief. The tide of love will always come in, and rosy-fingered dawn caresses our hearts, drawing our eyes and hearts upward as we prepare to walk through this day.

The Spirit tugs at my sleeve as I read these words, reminding me of the grace of God that upholds all of us, especially when weary, restless, or heart-sick. Heaven is all around us. This moment is a gift. The face of the Holy One is there before me, shining from all those I meet, beloved, whether friend or stranger. The Lord of Love embraces us in our despair and mourning as much as in our pleasure and rejoicing. This is the day that the Lord has made, and this is the Love that fills my heart and shines out even from where the brokenness is healing by grace and mercy. Come, Lord Jesus. Help me this and every day to live more nearly as I pray.

(This was first published at the Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul, March 29, 2017.)

Prayer 1525: Morning by morning your mercies I see

The path towward light

(inspired by the poetry of John Keble)

In thankfulness for the light
singing its way into being,
we give You praise, O God,
for your unfailing mercy and love.

You abide with us
in both sorrow and in joy,
in anxiety and in rest;
your mercies are new every morning.

Awaken us to see your face, Lord Christ,
in all your beloved creation,
in those known and unknown to us.

Help us to amend our hearts and steps
to walk in your beauty and light,
upholding us all our days.

Help us remember that heaven is our home,
and our home is beneath our feet,
in this good earth filled with light and love.

Dear Jesus, guard the hearts and hopes
of all those who turn to You,
sustaining us by your grace,
as we make our prayer to you.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Prayer 1524- led by Love

Calla lily, San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission, Carmel, California.

Come, Blessed Redeemer, and be our guide,
for the night is past,
and we seek to abide with you this day.
May we walk in gentleness and love with each other,
and seek to serve God in all persons.
May we be led by the Love
which sustains all the earth,
and be strengthened to work for justice and truth.
May we be witnesses in compassion,
healing the wounds of injustice and enmity,
for the sake of Christ our Savior.
May we be led by the Holy Spirit to newness of life,
to see with the eyes of our hearts
the unity of all creation.

Lord Jesus, abide with those who work,
or watch,
or weep this day,
and strengthen those whose faith is known to you alone.
Pour out the balm of your mercy
upon all who seek their way,
and upon those whom we remember before You, as we pray.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Prayer 1523: feeding our hearts with grace

"Now there was a great deal of grass in that place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; and also the fish, as much as they wanted."- John 6:10-11

Lord Jesus Christ, we kneel before You in thanks for this day.
Forgive us our sins, O God, we humbly pray,
and guide us into new pathways of peace and mercy
for your love's sake.
Bring us into a new fellowship of faith and hope,
and drive far from us all division and fear.
You, Lord, bid us sit down and eat:
open our eyes to see your abundant blessings all around us.
As you multiplied the loaves and fishes
to feed the multitudes,
feed us with your grace and peace,
satisfying our souls.
Pour out your Spirit upon us, O God,
that we may reflect the light of love and healing
into the darkest corners of the world.
We turn to You, O Holy One,
for your healing touch:
place the balm of your blessing upon all who call upon You.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Prayer, day 1522- God is our shpeherd and provider

The Good Shepherd.

(Based on Psalm 23)

God is our shepherd and provider,
You claim us as your own.

God leads us into pastures that supply all our needs;
You give us rest and security.

God refreshes and revives our souls anew;
leading us into truth, 

trusting us to follow and glorify God's Name.

You shield us by your strength and vigilance;
when trials approach us, 

we have no fear, 
for You hold us in your hand 
even when the darkness of death looms.

You provide a rich banquet for us even as enemies look on;
You have consecrated us and blessed us abundantly.
Your steadfast promise of love enfolds us,
and goodness and mercy are our sure companions 

as You lead us through our lives.

We rest securely in your arms,
and our home is with You forever.

O Shepherd, hear the call of your people and gather them close, especially those we now name.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Prayer 1521: The Anunciation of Our Lord

The Annunciation, by Brigid Marlin, 2005.

Eternal One, God of Compassion,
we turn from our beds
to rest our trust in You.
You sent your Son to be with us,
to walk with us in all our travails:
let us choose to walk alongside him today.
Let us bear Christ within our hearts,
as Mary bore him into the world;
let it be for us, too, according to your word.
Grant us the humility to accept your call to us,
and the strength and boldness to testify to your glory.
Humbly, we pour out our hearts before You,
Most Merciful God,
and ask You to send your angels to tend those we now name.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Prayer 1520- Make us a holy people

Cairn, Osage Monastery Forest of Peace, Sand Springs, OK.

Blessed Savior,
watch over us this day,
for we turn to the radiance of your glory
in faith and trust.

Forgive us, Lord, for all our sins,
and bring us to seek reconciliation
with those we have hurt.

Make us unfailing
in the cause of the oppressed and the vulnerable;
may we seek justice and compassion for the poor.

Uphold us by your Holy Spirit
to bring comfort and companionship
to those who are alone, in mourning, or in pain.

Holy One, make us your holy people,
that through our love
others may come to know You and your grace.

Stretch forth your hand of healing, O God,
upon all whom we remember in our prayers,
and all who cry out to You.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Prayer 1519- for hope in the dawn

The rising sun unveils the beauty of God's creation before us, even after the darkest night.

Lord of Love, who divides night from day,
and watches over us as a mother hen over her children,
grant us grace and peace.
Each breath we have is a gift from You, O Creator;
we live and move and have our being
grounded in your Love.

You are our ever-present help, O God,
and we turn to You
as You hold our souls within your saving hand.
Blessed Jesus, who wept for his friend Lazarus,
comfort those who mourn,
and bring healing to the broken-hearted.
Holy Spirit, come,
kindle your light in those whose hope is faltering,
that they may see to find their way home.

Merciful One, we lay our hearts open before You:
pour your blessing over those whom we remember before You, we pray.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Prayer 1518: Responding to the call to confession

Melchior, Jesus Healing the Leper

Confession of Sin, Book of Common Prayer, p. 360
Most Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with out whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us, that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Most Merciful Lord,
Jesus Christ,
we bend the knees of our hearts before You.

We have stubbornly clung
to the path of vanity and exploitation:
we have failed to trust in your unfailing Word.
In the face of injustice, persecution, and want,
we have claimed helplessness or hidden our gaze,
to shield us from acting against oppression done in our name
and for our own comfort.
By our heedlessness and casual cruelty,
we have denied the power of your Love
working in our hearts.

Our thoughts and words,
actions and inactions
convict us, O Lord:
but You, in abundant love and mercy,
love us still.

Let us seek reconciliation with you and all we have harmed.
Let us forgive, as we ourselves seek forgiveness.
Let us love as You yourself love us,
even as we feel our way through our own darkness.
Let us give thanks for the love that surrounds us,
and release the hurts to which we cling.
Let us embody your hope and healing in the world,
and walk in light as you have always led us.

Holy One, we rest like children within your embrace:
press your hand of blessing upon all whose cares we lay before You.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Prayer 1517: from the wastelands of sin

Holy One, may our prayers rise to You
as the sun rides high in the east,
and may we center our souls in your grace.
May we turn back from the wastelands of sin;
may we repent and reconcile
with all whom we have offended or harmed.
You have set a table for us
in the wilderness;
may we feast together,
united by the work of love you have given us.
Strike the rock of our hearts, O Holy One,
that the water of life may fill us
and inspire us to serve all creation.
Spirit of Love,
you know our inmost thoughts and cares:
extend the shade of your right hand
over those for whom we pray.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Prayer 1516: in humility and compassion

Beloved Savior, we praise and bless your holy name, giving thanks for your unnumbered mercies.
You have sheltered us in your embrace through the night; watch over us as we go forth into the day you have given us.

Pour into our hearts the living water of your grace and truth, that we may be refreshed and restored to do your will, O God.
With humility and compassion, may we seek to be your healing hands in the world, following the path you set before us.
Open our eyes to see your light in all we encounter, embodying your mercy and justice to all the oppressed.
Give us the will to destroy the walls we have erected among each other, remembering that you have called us to unity.

Preserve the joyful, comfort the sorrowful, strengthen all who falter, and relieve those who suffer, especially those we now name.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Prayer 1515: Third Sunday in Lent

An ancient depiction of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. Picture not mine.

Almighty God, our prayers rise to You with the rising sun: let us worship You and give thanks in your holy places.

Give us the wisdom to follow with gratitude when You lead us through the wilderness of sin that envelops us.
In places of contention and testing, let us witness to the power of the One whose mercies never cease.
Give us living water, that we may worship You, Lord Christ, in spirit and in truth, testifying to your saving love. 

Holy One, you know what is in our hearts: spread the fold of your mercy over us, and give comfort to those we now name.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Prayer, day 1514: based on a prayer by St. Patrick

St. Patrick

(based on a prayer of St. Patrick)
Blessed Savior, You are our armor in times of trouble: hear our prayer. Awaken in us a desire to love and praise You, for You are our companion in times of joy and in times of trouble. 

Guide us by your Strength, O God, and preserve us by your Power, that we may always walk before You. 
Instruct us by your Wisdom, and protect us by your mighty Hand as we seek to be your disciples. 
Direct us by your Way, defend us by your Shield, and send your angels to guard us night and day. 

Be with us, before us, and in us, Lord Christ, and send us out with a zeal to serve You with our whole heart. 

Fill us with a Holy Fire to spread your gospel of love and forgiveness to friend and foe, and place your blessing upon those we now name.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Prayer 1513: A Confession on St. Patrick's Day

Merciful God, we open our eyes to the rising sun,
and our hearts to meditate upon your grace and love:
Lord, hear our prayers.
In pride and heedless self-worship we have sinned, O God:
we have exploited the defenseless and turned on the weak.
We have sowed division to gain power,
surrendered before injustice,
and destroyed communities with mistrust and enmity.
Forgive, forgive, forgive, Lord Christ:
may we seek to restore our communion
with you, each other, and all creation.
Holy Spirit, renew in us a right orientation;
give us empathetic hearts and minds,
remembering that we are one.
Give us the will to seek the lost
comfort the suffering,
and lead those who thirst
to the water of life.
Guide us to be healing hands within the world,
loving each other as You, O God, have loved us, without fail.
In your compassion, O Holy One,
we place before You all those in anxiety or need of rest.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Prayer 1512: Prayer for reprentance

Stacked Stones, Osage Forest of Peace, Sand Springs, OK.

Blessed are You, O God of heavens and earth, for you are our Strength and our Redeemer. Bring us to true repentance as we examine our hearts. Accept our humble confession for our sins, done by us or done on our behalf. Lead us to renewal of life and faithfulness, that we may serve You and all creation. Centered within your love, Lord Christ, may we open wide the doors of our hearts, dwelling in your mercy as we pray.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Prayer 1511: God whose mercy upholds our days

Seagull in flight, Creve Coeur Lake.

Most Merciful God, who upholds us all our days, we rise in love to center ourselves within your care. 

Be our shield and our rock, Lord Christ, a lamp to light our path to reconciliation.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, defend us from all evil, that we may dedicate ourselves to your truth.
Create and sustain in us hearts for justice, that we may be forces of healing and liberation in the world.
Make us bearers of the light of Christ, united in fellowship to love and serve your unfolding creation.

Lifted up by your Grace, O God, we place our praises and pleas before You as we pray.