Saturday, September 23, 2017

Prayer, day 1702: on the first full day of autumn

O God of All Creation,
hear us as we draw near to You,
and place our hearts at your feet.

For the long green season that is closing,
and in expectation of cooling nights and turning leaves,
we thank You, O Lord. 

For the joy of children and the wonder of the innocent
in helping us to see your world anew,
we thank You, O Lord. 

For the blessing of work for your service, 
and the constellations of companions whose fellowship lightens the load,
we thank You, O Lord. 

For the wrongs we have done to others
or to You, Loving One,
that we may repent and seek reconciliation,
we pray to You, O Lord. 

For all our enemies in word or deed,
that their hearts may be turned,
and we may forgive,
we pray You, O Lord.

For those living in times of fire and storm,
who struggle to stay above the rising tide of anxiety,
we pray to You, O Lord.

For those whose needs we remember before You 
throughout this day, especially those we now name.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Prayer 1701- On the first day of autumn

Creator, Redeemer, we seek your presence:
still our minds that we may abide in your care today.

Grant your blessing to all our labors
that we may praise you and testify to your glory
in all we do.
May we preach reconciliation and hope to the despairing,
restoring the broken places within and among us.

The Earth turns toward autumn radiance
as a child turns on his bed in sleep,
subsiding into a time of rest.
Grant us that peace in our hearts and our ways:
'comfort the weary and give them repose and recovery.

Rest the hand of your blessing and healing
upon those whose cares we lay before You, O God.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Prayer, day 1700- For Rosh Hoshana

All-Merciful, Beneficent One,
we thank you for this new day
and new year You have given us.
May we dedicate ourselves
to strengthening the bonds of love and friendship
that hold us in orbit around each other.
May we be determined
to heal where there is division,
to comfort where there is sorrow,
and to forgive where there is injury.
May we be mirrors
to reflect the light and beauty of your Truth
into the world.
May we seek righteousness without self-righteousness,
and walk humbly with our God and our neighbors.
May our prayers and praises rise before You,
as we lift up those whose trust is in You, Loving One.

613 and 966

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prayer, day 1699

Lord God, Heavenly King, we praise You for your mercy and loving-kindness in bringing us to this day. 

May we labor with humility in your service, O God, going forth with joy, carrying our sheaves. 
May we acknowledge our wrongs and turn from our errors, seeking reconciliation with penitent hearts. 
May we plant justice in the heart of every nation, and let our lives tell out the wondrous grace of your love. 
May we rejoice in your creation, and walk gently upon the earth, tending it in gentleness and gratitude. 

In your tender love, lean over us and guide us, O Holy One, holding us in the hollow of your hand. We ask your blessing upon those we now name.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Prayer 1698: for justice and unity

Almighty God, our Protector and Help,
we lift our hearts in thankfulness
for your care of us through the night.
Your blessings to us are without number:
even our breath is a gift from You, O Holy One.

Let us use our breath
to proclaim your mercy and peace in the world,
and work to restore our broken relationships.
Give us strength and wisdom
to embody your redemption to the lost,
and your hope to conquer despair and fear.

Help us to put our trust in You, O God,
in your promises of mercy, grace, and healing.
Let us treat each other with forbearance and compassion,
in a spirit of humility and charity.
Lead us to break the chains of violence
which we have forged through our actions
or our silence.
Help us take up your call
to heal the broken places in ourselves
and in each other
through your Love revealed to us.
Let us join hands in faith in your promises,
and sing our prayer:
"Let there be peace on Earth,
and let it begin with me."

Almighty God, we rest in your embrace:
help us to embrace all those who call upon You,
especially those we now name.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Prayer, day 1697

Marching to protest injustice after another African American was killed by a police officer accused of planting evidence afterward. It took six years to come to trial, and the officer was acquitted in a bench verdict.

O God, we rise to give thanks
for your mercy and protection
spread as a canopy over us today.

May our prayers ascend to you
and our hearts be drawn to You,
for You are our God and Savior.
May we turn aside from selfishness and envy,
and seek forgiveness from those we have wronged.
May we remember our unity with all creation;
may our hearts be joined in love and fellowship.

Place your hand of blessing upon the crown of our heads;
consecrate us to your service today.
Hold us fast within the embrace of your love and wisdom;
guide us in the paths of justice and compassion.

Give your peace which surpasses all understanding
to those we now name.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Prayer for New Ministry

Holy Spirit, pour out your fire
upon the people of the Church of St. Martin
 and upon their new rector, Pamela Dolan,
as they begin their ministry together today.
May she preach your Word among them faithfully,
and lead them into even greater discernment and witness
of God's loving embrace
of all the human family.

May they nurture each other in faith and holy wisdom,
working with compassionate hands and hearts
for the healing and renewal of God's sacred creation.
May they seek to continue to serve Christ in all persons,
and inspire others by their love and delight
in walking the path of discipleship.
May they uphold each other
as they join this new ministry together
and pray for each other,
committing their hearts and talents to each other
for the glory of God.
Made one body by the holy gift of love and grace,
may they together proclaim your gospel joyfully
and witness to the saving power of Christ
in their community and in the world.

Grant your favor and blessing, Lord Jesus,
upon her family as they are welcomed into their new home:
may they be embraced
and supported by the fabric of community,
and flourish in the new soil in which You have placed them.
Holy One, bless and keep Pamela, your priest,
and anoint her with the power of the Holy Spirit
that she may continue to guide your people deeper
into our shared life in Christ.


Prayer 1696: Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Lord Christ, you called us to forgive from our hearts,
without reservation:
lead us to reconciliation with
and empathy for each other.
Open our hearts to acknowledge
the wrongs we do each other each day
and grant us the courage
to treat each other with love and compassion.
May we repent of the barriers we erect
within our hearts and minds
against those different from us.
May we forgive each other
for the times we have exploited each other
or denied your goodness
in those we have judged less worthy.

As we gather around your altar today, O God,
remind us of your call to love
and the grace You freely bestow upon us.
May we reflect that mercy back into our communities,
examine our faults
and acknowledge our sins,
and work to heal our divisions.
Teach us to support each other
as we all seek our way
that we may grow and learn in faith.
Gather us in one fellowship,
nourished by Christ,
sharing one bread and one cup
lifting up each other's cares as we pray together.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Prayer 1695: for justice

Once again, a black male has been killed by a white police officer in St. Louis, and the officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Lord have mercy, and grant your comfort to the family of Anthony Smith.

Lord Jesus, come into our hearts and minds,
for we seek to walk in your way.
Guide us into the way of peace and justice, O Christ, 
led by your example of love, life, and compassion.
Be with those who mourn and despair, Lord, 
with those whose humanity is denied.
Then strengthen us to stand together, O God,
against the forces of violence and death.

We cast ourselves before you, O Savior:
let our cry come to you.
Let your healing love wash over us and fill us, 
reminding us again of how you call us to live.
Lord Jesus, we lay our cares before you:
grant your peace to our prayers.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Prayer 1694

Abide with and within us, Lord Christ:
guide us as we seek to walk your path of holiness.
May we offer healing love and mercy
to those who ask our help,
remembering your abundant grace we receive, O God.
May we stand in compassion and solidarity
with the poor and oppressed, Lord,
remembering that you call us to bear each other's burdens.
May we walk in gentleness and humility upon the earth,
caring for creation with gratitude and tenderness.
Holy One, be our companion and stay,
and pour out your blessing upon those we now name.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Prayer 1693: On Holy Cross Day

Most Precious Savior,
you stretched wide your arms on the cross
to embrace all creation: hear our prayer.

We lay our thanksgivings before you:
you bear us up in your saving love.
Strengthen us to be one in heart and mind, Lord Christ,
united by your sacrifice for our salvation.
Help us to take up our cross, O Holy One,
and serve each other in joy and humility.
Reconcile us to God and each other
that we open ourselves to your life-giving Spirit.

Redeemed, restored, and reconciled
we give thanks to You, O God,
whose love never fails.
Tenderly draw us within your embrace, Almighty One,
especially those whose needs we lay before You.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Flourishing Anyway: Speaking to the Soul, September 13, 2017

Vincent Van Gogh, The Olive Trees, June 1889
I’ve been praying morning prayer now for over 11 years, something that astonishes me when I really think about it. There are definitely days in which I struggle with some of the readings. Monday almost started off to be one of those days.

Sometimes there are passages with which we all struggle, or that bring back bad memories. In the two-year cycle of readings for morning and evening prayer, the worshipper will cycle through most of the so-called Old Testament once, and the vast majority of the New Testament twice. The Psalms are read on a seven week cycle, so that means one reads most of the psalter seven times a year. You would think on a schedule like that, especially after a number of years, there would be few surprises in store. But when you consider that we also follow a three-year lectionary cycle for Sundays, you can end up with endless combinations of scripture to contemplate during the week, as my friend and mentor Dan reminded me in class one day. And the amazing thing about scripture is that there is always something new there. Scripture truly is like living water: just as you can’t step into the same river twice, scripture also rolls through our lives and refreshes it in unexpected ways.

On Monday, a day already fraught with sadness and tragedy, I groaned aloud when I saw that Psalms 41 and 52 were scheduled for that morning. To be honest, almost every time I see Psalm 41 I groan to myself a bit. Through its first eight verses, the psalmist’s plea for protection from God and mention of enemies are standard fare. But when it gets to naming the betrayal by a beloved companion—a theme even more pointed in Psalm 55-- that’s when I often feel my heart begin to sink.

Like most people, including the psalmist, I have suffered incidents of betrayal and pain by those I held most dear. The raw emotion that pours from the page in these psalms is so powerful because it comes from a place that resonates so deeply in our own lives these thousands of years later. Sometimes, it’s just hard to get to that perspective if the emotional context of the day is already heightened, yet I know if I can get there to that sense of catharsis there will be blessing. There have been times I have read the end of Psalms 41 and 55 with tears welling behind my eyes, and I was hoping that Monday, the 16th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, would not be one of those days.

Yet, the beauty of scripture is how it can lead us afresh to new life as well as help us to express our deepest pain and fears. I slogged through Psalm 41 and almost wearily began Psalm 52, which also starts off strongly denouncing betrayal and evil deeds by a person with power. Yet I then remembered that this psalm also contains one of my most beloved images of God’s grace and mercy:

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
I will give you thanks for what you have done
and declare the goodness of your Name in the presence of the godly.

These two psalms placed together remind us that lamentation in the face of betrayal can help us move to forgiveness—the kind of forgiveness that restores the perspective and allows us to remember that, even in times of trial, God is a God of abundant love and mercy. Olive trees are themselves a sign of abundance: their olives can be used as food, or pressed to make fine oil for cooking, or for burning in lamps for light, or for anointing those chosen and beloved of God. They provide their abundance even when impatient humans harvest them not by climbing into their branches and raking out their fruit but by shaking them violently or beating them with sticks. They provide cooling shade with their evergreen leaves for both human and animal, and habitat for the birds who can rest in their branches.

Olive trees can live for hundreds of years, because I am told that certain of them, even if cut down, send up new growth from the root-stock. This tenacious clinging to life may be one of the reasons why it was an olive branch that the dove released by Noah brought back after the flood had subsided, telling him that creation was again bearing fruit even after terrible destruction. Olive trees therefore are a sign of eternal life and eternal compassion, of the goodness of creation as a sign of God’s provision for us in times of devastation as well as times of plenty. To be a green olive tree in the house of God is to participate in God’s restoration of creation and reconciliation with all the earth.

Lamentation and anger are natural responses to being wronged and betrayed, these psalms remind us, and giving vent to these reactions helps us to eventually remember that hurts that we have received still cannot displace us from our ability to live in compassion and generosity as children of God. As I marveled at this precious image buried within this pair of psalms, I began to lean into the healing promise of this ancient image, forming my own prayer of thanksgiving and intercession as I continued to ponder this gift I had been given.

Lord Jesus,
we praise and bless You,
and kneel before You in gratitude.
Let us open ourselves to your will
for love and true peace, O Holy One,
that your power may work in us
for the sake of healing and unity.
Help us to release the burdens
of past hurts that we still bear, O Healer,
that wound us still in memory and spirit.

Make us instead

like green olive trees in your courts, O God,
upright and resilient before the storm.
Send deep our roots into your Word, Lord,
and let us draw wisdom
from your Law of Love.
Holy One, make us bearers of life and hope,
of goodness and abundant grace,
fed and nourished by your mercy
flourishing in our lives.
Help us spread wide our arms,
offering evergreen respite from the heat of day
to all who seek You,
Our God and Mother.

Precious Savior, your blessings pour over us:

anoint us to your service this day.
Grant your comfort to those
whose cares weigh upon our hearts,
as we lay them before You.


(This was originally posted on the Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul on September 13, 2017.)

Prayer 1692

O Merciful One,
we bend our hearts before you,
praising and glorifying your Name.
Pour out your wisdom upon us, O God,
that we may walk in love and faithfulness.
Make us magnanimous and joyful in all our work, Lord,
knit together in love,
and bearers of your grace and peace.
Fill us with the beauty of holiness,
and set us aflame by your Spirit.
Blessed Savior, we place our hearts before you,
and ask your blessing upon the concerns we carry.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Prayer, day 1691

Detail from a door at La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.

Our thoughts and prayers ascend to you O Lord,
as we finish the watches of the night.
We gather ourselves in silent contemplation
of all your magnificent works,
and cherish this moment to rest before you.

You are the source of all light and goodness,
and we hope to reflect that into the world
by our actions today.
Make us the bearers of the peace
we long to see in the world.
Give your Spirit charge
over those who are weary, uncertain, or in need of healing.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Prayer 1690: Like a Green Olive Tree in the House of God

A thousand-year-old olive tree. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Lord Jesus,
we praise and bless You,
and kneel before You in gratitude.
Let us open ourselves to your will
for love and true peace, O Holy One,
that your power may work in us
for the sake of healing and unity.
Help us to release the burdens
of past hurts that we still bear, O Healer,
that wound us still in memory and spirit.

Make us instead
like green olive trees in your courts, O God,
upright and resilient before the storm.
Send deep our roots into your Word, Lord,
and let us draw wisdom
from your Law of Love.
Holy One, make us bearers of life and hope,
of goodness and abundant grace,
fed and nourished by your mercy
flourishing in our lives.
Help us spread wide our arms,
offering evergreen respite from the heat of day
to all who seek You,
Our God and Mother.

Precious Savior, your blessings pour over us:
anoint us to your service this day.
Grant your comfort to those
whose cares weigh upon our hearts,
as we lay them before You.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Prayer 1689: Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The remains of Hurricane Harvey linger in the South as Hurricane Irma hits the Windward Islands, and Jose builds behind that, September 5, 2017. NY Times photo.

Most Merciful God,
we kneel before You in humble thanks
for your steadfast lovingkindness. 
Lead us in paths of reconciliation,
and let us never abandon each other
when hurt or anger threatens to divide us.

We lift up before You
all who are in danger, sorrow, or any kind of tumult.
You are our hope and our stay, O Lord,
and we know You are with us always.

Strengthen all who work as rescuers and helpers
and place them and the vulnerable under your sustaining hand.
Give us wisdom to seek the higher ground of service and compassion,
caring for each other as children of God.

Bring us together as one community,
united by love,
secured by service in your Name.

Resting in your abundant mercy and grace,
we place our needs and concerns before You as we pray.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Prayer, day 1688: In thanksgiving for a birthday

(Inspired by the Jubilate)
You are the source of all goodness, O God, and our shelter in times of trial. 
The lands ring out their joy to God, whose mercy never fails. 
God calls each one by name, and we answer our shepherd's call. 
We know You have made us and are with us, O Loving One, and we sing your praise.
Your gates open before us; let us enter with thanksgiving, sure in your reception and protection of us.
We call upon You and You answer us, for your faithfulness endures from age to age.
Strengthen and vouchsafe those who call upon You, especially these for whom we pray.