Friday, October 21, 2016

Prayer, day 1369-- In Praise of Autumn

Sugar maples in my neighborhood.

O God, we thank You for being our companion through the seasons of life, and we praise and bless You forever!

You are our hope, which buds within our hearts like a sapling tree. 
You are the green joy that springs up from the soil of our hearts and takes root, blessing us and holding us fast.
You are the lustrous light of faithfulness: you call us to turn to You as flowers crane their necks to the sun.
You are the song of praise that sings from the symphony of color of autumn forests and fields.
You are our warming fire, that sets our embered souls ablaze through the breath of your Spirit.

Open our eyes to see your glory, O Creator, and open our hearts to nurture your Word and Truth. 
Hear the prayers that tumble from our hearts like fallen leaves, and gather in your arms those we now name.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Prayer 1368- a prayer for rising

Morning mist rising like a prayer.

O God, early in the morning we open up our hearts to You;
renew our questing hearts every morning in your love, we pray. 

In stillness, in peace, thankfulness wells up 
like a spring of clear water is absorbed into thirsty ground.

Let your holy wisdom take root within us, Lord Christ:
let us prepare the ground of our hearts to welcome your word. 

Nourished by your grace, restored by your mercy,
lead us into reconciliation with each other.

We pray that all have love enough,
and bread enough,
that all may dwell in peace and plenty in your care,
O Most High.

Forgive us for the hearts we've broken rather than set free,
and the walls we've built up to shut ourselves in.

Look upon us with tenderness, we pray,
and help us cast away our vanity and pride.

Lord Christ, let your prayer of love be prayed within us
and draw us into heaven's banquet of fellowship.

Let your Spirit of healing come down
and give rest to those we remember before You. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Prayer 1367- for discernment and action

Autumn comes to Eden.

Almighty, Life-giving God, You are our help and our salvation: show forth your glory in the world as our song of love rises to You. Let us tend to the earth and to each other with gladness of heart, uplifted by hope.

Pour out your wisdom upon us, Merciful One, and give us the will to plant peace and uproot injustice wherever it springs up. 
Let us feed the hungry, tend the sick, care for the exile, and shelter the homeless, embodying the hands and heart of Jesus. 
Let us resist oppression and cruelty in all its forms, and honor the dignity and worth of all that lives. 
Let us treasure this living Earth You made for us and all your creatures, and join in its song of praise to You. 

Merciful One, your love is from everlasting: send forth your peace upon those for whom we pray.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Singing of the Earth- Speaking to the Soul, October 18, 2016

A pollinator in Shepherd Farm garden at Church of the Good Shepherd, Town and Country, MO.

It’s October, so for many of us, besides being either joyfully or grudgingly immersed in the season of Pumpkin Spice Everything, it is the season of baseball playoffs. One of my favorite things during the seventh inning stretch is the renditions of “America the Beautiful” that are often sung. I have always loved the visuals brought to mind in that song as embodying the natural beauty of our country. Along with “Finlandia,” the reminders of the beauty of growing things, of the love we can have for the land, are always so vitally important, especially since it is often so easy to take this abundance for granted.

I thought again of the images in “America the Beautiful” and “Finlandia” as I read this Sunday’s psalm, Psalm 65. Many of the images of Psalm 65 seem like they might have been the inspiration for these two hymns.

The descriptions here of God’s domination of all natural forces and of creating not just order but an abundance of agricultural wealth to not just sustain the people but to demonstrate forcefully that God is not just merciful but mighty. Remember that Israel is an arid environment, and that the people are often at the mercy of extremes in climate and environment. Yet even in difficult paces, God is making the terrain bountiful and rich—notice that the verb tense is not in the past, but in the present. Examine the pregnant imagery employed here: in verse 11, furrows are “drenched” with “heavy rain;” in verses 13-14, a wilderness is instead filled with fields that can sustain and fatten a multitude of flocks. The image of valleys “cloaked with grain” is striking, and so lavish. 

But what I tend to notice is that God is here portrayed as a farmer, as one who makes the earth bring forth both beauty and plenty. Last Sunday was World Food Day, so how wonderful it is to ponder the ways that creation continually renews itself in each growing season. In verses 9 and 10, God tends to the Earth, and waters the plants that grow for food upon it, and then God prepares the grain so that it may be eaten and bless the people. God’s abundance reaches to the round corners of the Earth. Abundance becomes clear when people are fed. 

Psalm 65 also mentions our sins in verse 3—or “our crimes,” as theologian Ellen Davis translates it. It acknowledges the power that sin can have on us— they are “stronger than we are.” Yet the second half of that verse notes God’s astounding grace in forgiveness of those sins, that God will “blot them out.” Even though our misdeeds are strong, we can receive the gift of forgiveness. With that gift, we can attempt to make recompense for our sins, especially those against the Earth and those who share this small planet with us. Dr. Davis notes that God blesses the Earth with growth (verse 11), so that even the valleys join with dawn and dusk in singing out their joy. Yet it is up to us to make sure that that our practices in and on the Earth do not damage it, but tend to it and respect and support its sacred work of sustaining us as God intended. It is up to us to make sure that the abundance of the earth is used righteously, for the good of all who dwell upon it.

Every year, it is estimated that ten million children less than five years old die of hunger and malnutrition. Every year. One in seven people on the planet face daily, persistent hunger. This is why Episcopal Relief and Development seeks to provide tools, seed, and livestock for the creation of sustainable family farms throughout the world. 

Urban gardening at Holy Communion.
But there are concrete actions we can take to help do our part to make sure the bounty of the earth is used for the blessing of all the people of God, no matter their nationality or creed. This is why, this year, nearly two dozen members of the Diocese of Missouri joined dozens of others from around the area to walk in the Crop Walk on September 25 for the benefit of hunger ministries in St. Louis and around the world. This is why the parish I am privileged to serve as intern, the Church of the Good Shepherd, pours its energy into Shepherd Farm, once again giving away 2,000 pounds of food this year to the hungry. This is why my home parish, the Church of the Holy Communion, has sustained and expanded a vegetable and pollinator garden for more than seven years that has also grown thousands of pounds of produce to be given away at the food pantry operated by our sister parish of Trinity Episcopal Church in the city of St. Louis. 
Some of the Episcopal Crop Walk contingent.

And these stories are repeated hundreds of times over across the nation, as more and more religious organizations become involved in cultivating the land that they have to produce abundant harvests of food for the benefit of our brothers and sisters who are hungry. But we know, that with care, as God’s very example shows us, we can also tend to the Earth lovingly, reverently, and in so doing bring forth blessing over all the Earth, from dawn to dusk, from mountain to valley.

In her translation of Psalm 65, especially verses 9- 14, Professor Davis highlights the saturation of goodness that God continues to embed in creation:

You visit the earth and water it;
You abundantly enrich it—
God’s stream, full of water. 
You set their grain—yes, You set it just so.
Drenching its furrows, settling its hillocks,
You soften it with showers; its growth You bless.
You have crowned the year with Your goodness,
and Your wagon-tracks drip richness.

The pastures of the wilderness are dripping, 
and the hills are girdled with rejoicing.
The meadows are clothed with the flocks, 
and the valleys robed with grain.
They shout out; they even sing.

The glory of God is reflected in the song wrung from the hills and valleys, from the first shoots of growth in spring to the heavy branches sighing out their joy as they are covered with juicy, lavish fruit in autumn. Harvest time as well as spring time is the time of the Earth’s singing. It is the time of the seed falling to the receptive earth, to slumber through the winter to be reborn in the spring, reminding us of resurrection and life abundant. May our hearts be fertile soil for the word of God, that they may bring us, singing too, to a holy covenant of life with and for each other, blessed by and inspired by the abundant love of God for us in creation.

Prayer 1366

A bee works ardently on an aster at the Kauffman Memorial Gardens, Kansas City.

Most Merciful God, who gives life to all creation, we offer You worship and thanks as the curtain of the night draws back. Feed our hearts with joy as we study your Word and remember our blessings this day. 

Let us rebuke the forces of fear and darkness, and take the path of wisdom and justice, that peace may flourish through every land. May we love and serve you, Holy One, that all we do may testify to the love we are called to embody as your children. 

Lord, consecrate us to serve each other in joy, and knit us together as one people. Press the kiss of your blessing and seal of your healing on all whose needs we lift before You.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Prayer 1365- For compassionate hearts

The "Hunter's Moon" that shone last night truly reminded us of the glory of creation.

Holy One, we bend the knee of our hearts before You in thanksgiving: open our hearts to the balm of your Word. 

Remember us according to your love, O God, for we are prone to wander and fall short of who we are called to be. 
We are too prone to give the hungry a stone instead of bread, and the refugee rejections rather than welcome. 

Yet You are gracious to us, O God, steadfast in kindness, so let us learn from You, who made us in your image. 
Grant us the courage to follow in the path of hope, faith, and compassion through the waste places of fear and doubt. 
Teach us by the example of your saints and apostles to walk in your ways always. 

Give us the will to sing your love boldly and to place healing hands upon the wounded places in the world as we pray.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Prayer 1364: Twenty-second Sunday After Pentecost

A Monarch caterpillar finds food because someone deliberately planted milkweed in a garden.
Can we do no less for out brothers and sisters who are hungry?

O Lord, You are the refuge of all who seek justice and peace, our great Advocate: we draw near to give You praise. Inscribe your great commandment on our heart, that we may love and serve You by how we love and serve each other. 

Blessed Jesus, you are our bread and our cup: help us, as your body in the world, to feed the world in love and light. Let us never rest until all are fed in truth and in Spirit, and the hungry are fed and embraced. 

Our hands joined around your altars, let us be filled with the Holy Spirit to sow peace and justice as we go forth in joy. In all things, may we be led by your call to relieve the needy and comfort the afflicted through the power of your grace. 

Holy One, grateful for your abiding care for us, we lift up the needs of those for whom we now pray.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Prayer 1363- For Teresa of Avila

A beautiful poem prayer from St. Teresa of Avila.

Most Merciful God, we praise You, and turn our faces toward the rising light of hope that throws off the blanket of night. Guide and direct our hearts to You today, O God, knowing you journey with us in love. 

May we send all our thoughts after You, O God, seeking You with all that we are. May we act out of love in all we do, for love alone is the measure of all things. May we open our hearts that the love of Christ may overflow from us and into the dark corners of the world. Let our hearts in prayer be ever turned to You, Lord Christ, that we be led as children of God through your example. 

All that we are we lay at your feet, O Holy One: bless and sanctify us through our offering of love. Place your hand of blessing upon all who call upon You, especially those for whom we now pray.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Prayer 1362

The Yosemite Valley.

Most Merciful One, we bless You, we praise You, we lift our hearts to You in thanksgiving. 
May all the round earth join your chorus, and our hearts resonate to your truth. 

Lord Jesus, you stretched open your arms on Calvary to press us against your sacred heart, and we abide in your embrace. 

Let us stand in faith on your good earth, and work for reconciliation and peace for all beings. 
Let us open ourselves to be infused with the light of wisdom, and seek wholeness and shalom. 

Lord, accept our offered prayer for the healing of the world, and for those whose needs we lift up in love.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Prayer 1361- Prayer of Hope

Clematis buds form two hearts. Kauffman Memorial Gardens in Kansas City.

Let us rise from our beds and sing out a song of hope: our hope rests in God, who is making the heavens and the Earth. The steadfast Love of God endures forever: God's heart encompasses us like a cloud rests on the mountains. 

You have kept faith with us when we were faithless, and show us the way of love, made flesh in Jesus your Son. You have called us to remember our true natures as followers of Christ: to serve each other and the cause of justice and peace. 

Holy One, place the kiss of blessing upon us that we may be anointed with your peace, which surpasses understanding. Drive far from us all that leads us from light and life: help us cast off fear, distrust, and division. Guide us with your word of truth that we may carry your light within us for the joy of the world. Place your healing hand upon all whose needs we now remember, and grant them your peace and comfort, we pray.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Prayer 1360- Make us fools for Christ

Hundreds of paper cranes hang in St. Augustine's chapel on the campus of Vanderbilt University.

Holy One, we awaken to serve you with joy: against the tides of darkness, let us sing the light into rising. 

Make us fools for Christ, that we may walk in compassion and mindfulness, at one with all creation. 
Let us embrace the foolishness of love and peace against the world's wisdom of fear and violence, and so follow Jesus. 
Let us embrace the foolishness of hope and justice against the world's expectation of contention and partiality. 
Let us hold fast to each other's hand, and see the face of Christ reflected in the tears of the suffering and oppressed. 

In all we do for good, strengthen us, Lord; in all we do in error, correct us and bring us to repentance and reconciliation. 

Lord, send your Spirit to cover and lift up the hearts of all who falter, and encourage those whose needs we remember.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Prayer 1359

A bloom faces the morning sun at Kauffman Memorial Gradens in Kansas City.

Lord Jesus Christ, uphold us by your spirit from our rising through our resting, and keep us as the apple of your eye. 

We are created in the likeness of God: let us walk in love as Christ walks alongside us. 
Help us renounce all that leads us to fear and hate, and hold fast instead to the hope and love planted within us at our birth. 
Guide us into paths of compassion, that we may remember your command to love and care for one another. 

Blessed Teacher, take us by the hand and call us to healing in heart, mind, and spirit. 
Let us turn into the embrace of the Holy One, and rejoice in the fellowship of all creation to live in shalom. 
Merciful One, place your hand of blessing upon us, and comfort all who call upon you.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Prayer 1358

A blossom from Shepherd Farm at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Town and Country, MO.

Holy One, we rise from our rest to praise you and bless you, giving thanks for all our blessings. 

Preserve us from sin and hatred today, and guide us into paths of peace and justice, Lord Christ, as you taught us. 

From the sun's rising to its setting, under the whirling, dancing stars, let our lives testify to the beauty of the Way of Truth. 

Let us be molded by the command to love with all our hearts, and let go of fear and hatred. 

 Almighty One, surround us in your mercy and sustain us by your grace, and shine your light upon those we now name.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Prayer, day 1357

Rainbow, Yosemite Valley.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, we come before your altars today joyfully singing our praise of your abundant help and grace. 

Let our prayers of thankfulness ring out to all the world, that Christ be known in every heart. 

Let our prayers of hope lift every soul to witness to Your truth, O God, to shine into the corners of every habitation. 

Let our prayers of peace turn our hearts and hands to building your kingdom of heaven here on Earth. 

May our words, our songs, our hearts, and our lives be dedicated to your service, O Holy Lord, our Redeemer and Guide. Loving One, we turn to You in gratitude for your saving help: send now your blessing on all the world.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Prayer 1356

Nothing like a hand to hold, in joy, sorrow, or simply gratitude and love.

Most Merciful God, we lift our hearts to You in wonder, love, and praise. Raise the canopy of your blessing over us, we pray, and gather us to You in love and faithfulness. Help us open our hearts to treasure each other and the world around us. Animate us by your Holy Spirit to walk in your paths of compassion and healing. Press the kiss of your blessing, Blessed Jesus, upon us and those whose needs raise before You.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Prayer 1355- Holding Fast in the Storm

This morning's dawn was spectacular.

Most Merciful God,
You are our fortress and stronghold,
and we thank you for lifting us up into wisdom and truth. 

You abide with us always;
You cover us with the strength of your almighty hand,
O Most High. 
You walk beside us
from the dawning to the dimming of the day, and lift us up
when the waters of fear rise up to our necks. 

Let your truth blossom and flourish within us,
that our hearts be good soil
to bear the fruit of justice and peace. 
Give us a spirit of forbearance and mercy, Lord Christ,
honoring your gospel of love and healing. 
Preserve us from the battering winds of enmity and discord,
and guide us into fellowship with all creation. 

Spirit of Peace, rest upon us 
and envelop with gossamer wings 
all those whose hope is in You.