Friday, December 9, 2016

Prayer 1418: Turning to Light

A light fixture at Thistle Stop Cafe, an enterprise run by Magdalene House.

Merciful One, we turn our faces from darkness to light as night falls away, and remember your gift to us with thankful hearts. 

Forgive us our sins, those we have committed or those done on our behalf, we humbly pray. 
Give us hearts that seek the Prince of Peace, that we may welcome the Holy One into our hearts with joy. 
Strengthen our determination to walk in light, to mindfully follow in the Way of Jesus.

Let us gentle and master our wills to seek only your holy Wisdom, O God, and to act in love within your creation. 
Draw all those who worry, watch, or weep into the cloud of your blessing, O Redeemer, as we pray for those in any need.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Prayer, Day 1417

A window from Emmanuel Church in Webster Groves, MO.

We thank You, O God, for being with us in our brokenness. We thank You for loving us in all of our chaos and need. We thank You for your forgiveness for our stubbornness and pride, and for calling us to You again and again. All like lost sheep we have gone astray, but your Love, O Lord, is a never-changing beacon unto us. You are always with us in our joys and in our sorrows, and we call upon your Name in good times and bad. 

Send your angels to lighten the hearts of those for whom we pray.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Prayer 1416

Let us now praise our God: Earth-Maker, Pain-Bearer, Life-Giver, Ground of Being and Source of Beauty. 

Come, Light of the World, and fill our hearts with fire to being victory to the oppressed and comfort to the fearful. 

Let us sing hope before the forces of despair, and breathe your love into the frozen air of division. 
You have taught us to walk in the ways of the Holy One: now let us arise and set our hearts to work with joy. 
Place the mantle of your solace and the balm of your healing on all who cry out for help, O God of Power and Mercy. 

You know what is written in our hearts, O Holy One: place your blessing upon all whom we now remember before You, we pray.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Prayer 1415: Standing Firm in Faith

Two new Daughters of the King commit to lives of service and prayer.

O God, your love is ever before our eyes and hearts, and we sing alleluia for your steadfast grace in gratitude. 
Place our feet on level ground within your gates, O Holy One, that your Word may be a lamp to our heart's journey. 
You, Lord Christ, are our strength and our model: may we work for healing, forgiveness, justice, and shalom. 
Merciful One, let us use this new day to stand for peace in the midst of tumult, embodying your love in the world. 
Let us repel the forces of division and hatred through love's power to the glory of your Name. 
Comfort and shield all who suffer any anxiety or trouble, especially those we remember before You now.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Prayer, Day 1414

We are prone to wander....

O God, by your hand we are preserved and by your mercy we know our faults, and how far we have to go. Yet your abundant grace, O Lord, empowers our every step forward. For it is only when we know that You have forgiven us continually that we can be truly grateful for all that we receive.

Awed by the vast deeps of Your Love, who walked among us as Christ, we kneel before You and ask your blessing. May all we undertake be done to love others, as Jesus loves us, unrestrainedly, determinedly, unceasingly.

Send your Spirit to envelop those whose needs we fasten our prayers of petition upon those we now name. 



Sunday, December 4, 2016

Prayer 1413- The Second Sunday in Advent

Love is above all things why we are here.

Almighty God, we thank you for light and life,
for all your gifts and blessings upon us.
We thank you especially
for sending prophets among us,
to teach us to return to the ways
You have hallowed and blessed.
May all who profess your Name
work to stamp out the fires of hatred,
and bring mercy and forbearance to life in all things.

Help us turn again

toward justice, compassion, and peace.
Help us turn away
from exulting over each other's losses or pain
but toward setting each other's good as our own.
Help us work for the oppressed and the marginalized,
standing against systems of oppression and hatred.
Help us to walk into the light of love and peace,
secured on a foundation of justice and equality with all beings.

Holy One, we give thanks

for your abiding faithfulness to us
even when we wander.
Set our hearts and minds
on the path of compassion,
and place your blessing upon those
whose needs we raise before You.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Prayer, day 1412

Holy God, You encircle us with your love and mercy: hear the prayers of your people that we offer to You today. 

Blessed Savior, we pray that we cling to your ways and wisdom more tightly, listening for your call to us in each moment. 

We pray that those unquiet in spirit be gentled, and that empathy and compassion for themselves and others bloom in their hearts. 

We pray that all who are hurting- from sorrow, from contempt, from pain- be soothed in your loving embrace, and know your blessing. 

We pray that all who seek a deeper knowledge of You may be led to the living water of your peace and wisdom. 

We pray that we heal the divisions that tear apart our communities and our hearts. 

Holy One, call down your angels upon us, and send a Spirit of Peace to those we now name.



Friday, December 2, 2016

Prayer 1411

Madonna and child. Photo from wikimedia commons.

Most Merciful God, we lay our hearts at your feet, and sing our praise for your goodness and mercy. 

With each new day, may we renew our commitment to walk in this world as Christ himself taught us. 
Preserve us from getting lost in our own foolishness, and guide us into your pastures of peace. 
Inspire us through your Holy Spirit to seek wisdom and act in compassion in each moment that You have given us. 
Let us see your light always before us, and may your truth take us by the hand like little children. 

Rest your hand of power and healing upon us, O Almighty One, and bless those whose needs we now name.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Prayer 1410- Turning toward home

Let my heart rise to God.

Let me raise my heart
and extol the wonders of the Most High,
who is making the heavens and the earth.
Let my heart fly to You, O God,
as geese arrow overhead unerringly to wend their way home.

Almighty One, You are our home,
and the source of all that is blessing and peace.
Your words are like honey on the tongue, O Redeemer,
and your love is a balm to the wounded spirit.

Forgive us our sins,
and help us turn from rebellion
and turn toward those in need.
Unite us to your Son and to each other
with hearts laid bare to receive your grace.

May we remember that the heart of wisdom
is living bravely
into the way of love and faithfulness.
Teach us to live outside ourselves,
working for the peace of the world
and the healing gospel of Christ.

Walk with us, Lord Jesus, through this day,
whether it holds joy or tears,
and grant your favor upon those
whose needs we now name.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Prayer 1409: for renewal

Just when you think you are lost, light breaks through, and a path is found.

Holy One, we lift our praise to you on the morning wind, remembering your goodness and lovingkindness in all things. Our souls wait for you, O Lord; like watchmen for the morning, we seek You and your wisdom to guide us.

Help us be humble and kind, remembering your compassion to all who turn to You in need. Let us seek to give what we ourselves receive, and walk in mercy and fellowship with each other as you teach us to do.

Let us remember that Christ comes among us as refugee and asylum-seeker as well as healer. Let us see your face, Lord Jesus, in the faces of the poor, the desperate, and the marginalized. Let us still our souls to hear your call to forgiveness and repentance as we walk our pilgrim path in service to You, O God.

Bless all people in their daily lives and work, Almighty One, and place the balm of your Spirit on those we now name.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Promises, Promises: Speaking to the Soul, November 29, 2016

Isaiah 11:1-10
Matthew 3:1-12

We begin to settle in to Advent this week with readings that remind us of the glorious promises which are our inheritance as people of faith. Advent is a rime of penitence as well as expectation, a time of remembering things past while also inhabiting the “not-yet” of the coming Messiah. In the darkness and cold of winter, we are reminded of promises made and promises kept. The first promise we encounter this week is the promise in Isaiah 11 regarding the Jesse tree. Jesse was the father of David, and in 2 Samuel 7, David had been promised that one of his descendants would be king throughout eternity. Jesse is thus Jesus’s many-times-great-grandfather. Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, was of course known as the city of David because Jesse was from Bethlehem.

One of the main theses of the gospel of Matthew is that God fulfills the promises he makes, in this case to David, and this reading from Isaiah helps establish proof for that claim in Matthew. Jesus is referred to as the “son of David” ten times in the gospel of Matthew, more than in any other synoptic gospel (the term does not appear in John). Promises made by God are never forgotten.

As with last week’s reading from Isaiah, we have a hopeful vision of the future that the prophet paints for the people of Judah, one that directly again confronts the problem that has led the people astray—that their kings have been false rulers, leading them into apostasy and promoting values at odds with those of God. More specifically, this is one of the three messianic oracles in Isaiah (see also Isaiah 7 and 9). The Messiah was expected to sit on David’s throne and restore David’s line as true king. God had warned the people that choosing to have human kings would get them into trouble, and the situation by the 8th century BCE has proved that point.

The vision recounted here in our Isaiah passage this Sunday ends with a description of a restored creation: many of the animals paired together are domesticated animals and the wild animals who prey upon them, led by an innocent. The vision ends with a reference to the “root of Jesse”—to David and David’s descendants—and again expresses the wish that the entire world will turn its face toward Israel and look to it as the source of salvation. Even though, as Isaiah writes, it appears that the tree of Jesse has fallen, the hope is that a rod or branch will spring up from the fallen tree that will grow to be even mightier than its parent.

Above, you will see one of the most famous depictions of this Jesse tree, from the Chartres Cathedral. This is one of the original windows in the cathedral, from circa 1150 CE. Notice that at the top of the tree is Jesus, with his mother Mary right below him. David and Solomon are also included at the bottom of the tree above Jesse. The tree of Jesse runs through the biblical story, planted in the soil of both faithfulness and mercy.

As we begin year A in the three-year lectionary cycle, we will spend most of this year with the gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s gospel will build the case that Jesus is the Messiah all along up to this point— chapter 1 recounts Jesus’s genealogy and legitimacy as a son of David and as a son of Abraham. Chapter 2 tells the story of the Magi, Herod’s massacre of the innocents, and the flight of Jesus’s family to Egypt. Today’s gospel depicts a prophetic herald warning his listeners that the one who by rights may judge them is at hand. Our gospel this Sunday will also quote Isaiah (chapter 40) as a touchstone to solidify the claims that John will make about Jesus and about himself. John is the one crying out from the wilderness, proclaiming the coming of the Lord. The appearance of John himself in our gospel from the third chapter of Matthew is also a sign or promise fulfilled, since he comes out of the wilderness dressed just so for the role of an Old Testament prophet—his attire is remarkably similar to that of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8.

As the winter nights lengthen, we have the promise of light from light, true God from true God, coming among us, offering salvation and enlightenment for all. We have the promise of not retribution, but mercy coming to live among us, judging with righteousness and equity the cause of the oppressed.

(Photo of the Jesse Tree window at Chartres Cathedral, from

Prayer 1408

Morning light gilds the grasses.

Early in the morning
we lift our hearts to You,
O Wondrous Light:
come, let us add our song
to the wakening Earth's.
Before your radiant goodness
we bow, O Holy One:
may our voices ever sing your praise!
You have laid our your paths before us:
may we ever keep our feet within your way,
that we may worship You in all things.

Lord Jesus,
You lead us with gentleness and truth:
teach us to ever serve You
and one another
with joy.
Make us
a compassionate, faithful people,
living into your gospel of love and faithful action,
we humbly pray, O Lord.
Help us to renounce
the fears and failings that lead into darkness,
and claim our place
within the Beloved Community.

Gather our prayers into your keeping,
O God,
and and bless and keep those whose hope is in You.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Prayer 1407: Shine

Yesterday's #adventword was "shine," and I thought of this photo I took in 2012 of the rose window at the Cathedral de Notre Dame in Paris.

Let us rise to sing praises to the Holy One who inhabits eternity yet dwells within our hearts: Come, Lord Jesus, Come. You, Lord, are our shield and help: your love surrounds us and holds us fast within your boundless mercy. You sustain us and watch over us in tenderness: may we ever rejoice within the arms of our Creator and Savior.

Let your teachings to us be as bread to the hungry: enlighten us with your wisdom and truth. Lead us into repentance for all our wrongdoing, and for our cooperation or silence in the face of oppression. Give us gentle hearts, compassionate spirits, and enquiring minds, that we may grow in your peace and grace. 

Holy Spirit, rest upon us, filling us with your fire, and bestow your blessing upon those we now name.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Prayer 1406: The First Sunday in Advent

On the first Sunday of Advent, we light "the Prophecy Candle, or the "Candle of Hope,"
directly opposite from the Rose Candle.

O Light of Lights,
and encircle us with your wisdom and truth,
that we may be led into paths of faith and joy.

We bless You and thank You,
O Holy One,
for all that You are doing within us
and in creation.
Transform our hearts and minds
through your instruction,
that You may find us ever watchful
and alert to your call.
May your light
drive away the shadows within our hearts,
and its warmth be a balm for our souls.

Lord Christ, all that we are and have is yours:
heal us of all that separates us from your love.
Let us give all,
that we may receive the life
for which you made us:
a life of praise, thankfulness, and compassion.
United by your grace,
we ask for your blessing and healing, O God,
upon us and all whom we now remember.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Prayer 1405

We all know where our place of safety and welcome is.

Almighty God, we lift our hearts to You in thanks and praise, recalling your blessings without number.

You have set us high upon the rock when the waters of fear rise:
You have cared for us as a Mother for her children.
You have called us and cared for us with an ever-lasting love:
may we hear and seek to abide with You always.

May we be inspired by your Word to work for justice and peace among the oppressed and the powerless.
May we never seek our own advantage over the needs of others; may we advance the cause of love and compassion. 
May we never seek to inflict our own wounds upon others, but walk gently among those we meet as beloved companions. 

Guide us and gentle us, O Savior:
let us walk faithfully in the ways of wisdom and love.

Holy One, send forth your Spirit to shelter those in danger, sorrow, or fear; enlighten the hearts of those we now name.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Prayer, day 1404

The grasses die back as winter approaches, but remind us of the enduring hope of new life and growth.

O God, look with favor upon your servants today.
Let us turn our hearts toward those who,
in the midst of plenty,
are in want in body or soul.
Let us hunger for justice and redemption
as much as we hunger for food.
Let us remember
how love has blessed us in our lives,
and let go of discontent and rancor.
Help us to stop building a mountain of our resentments,
and dwell instead within the mansion of our blessings.

Give your protection
to those who are in danger from the cold this day,
and let us work to give them shelter as our own.
Comfort those whose needs we bring before You.