Saturday, November 30, 2013

Meditation on Matthew 24:36-44

Matthew 24:36-44

Jesus said to the disciples, "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."

Eschatology is that branch of theology which deals with “the study of the end of things” (“eschatos” means “last.). The gospel reading for this week is eschatological, as it is traditional for Advent to begin with a gospel reading that deals with this subject. It is the end of Year C and the beginning of Year A. It is the end of the Season after Pentecost, also known as “Ordinary Time.” And indeed, Advent reminds us that we do not live in ordinary time during this month of preparation that is at once both joyful and solemn.

This passage itself was one that was quoted to me often in my childhood churches. Many of them talked often about the “end-times,” and this was one of their favorite images: two people will be working side by side, and one will be taken and the other “left behind” when Jesus makes his “second coming.” The “Left Behind” series is about just such scenarios, I am told, and is centered around a general set of beliefs known as dispensationalism, which foretold the apocalypse and in particular the “rapture”—when the resurrection will happen as described in  1 Thessalonians 4:17—“Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever.”

The Gospel of Matthew contains five sermons or discourses from Jesus:

1)   the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5-7

2)   Missionary Instructions – Matthew 10

3)   Collection of Parables (or Parabolic Discourse) – Matthew 13

4)   Community Instructions (or Discourse on the Church) – Matthew 18

5)   Sermon on Eschatology (or Discourse on End Times, or Olivet Discourse) – Matthew 24

Thus, in this Advent 1 reading, we have a discussion of the end, right as we balance upon the edge of the beginning. This discourse was given on the Mount of Olives, which even today is one of the main burial sites for Jerusalem.  The Garden of Gethsemane was at the base of the Mount, and in Matthew this is the last discourse of the five. We read this at Advent to remind us that every ending leads to a new beginning.

Jesus admits here that no one but God the Father knows when the end will come—not even the Son. People will be going about their business, and then suddenly all will be over. The discussion of Noah (vv. 37-40) focuses not on those who got on the ark, but on those “left behind” because they were judged not to be righteous, as Noah was. Then we see two pairs of people, one male and one female—once again one half of each pair will be taken up, showing the universality  and polarity of judgment. It’s interesting to note that most people assume that one being snatched up is the one who is “saved”—but that is not actually stated here. It could be that the one snatched up is the one facing judgment. We only assume that the one taken up is the one saved based on the dispensationalism we have absorbed all around us in sources such as the Scofield Reference Bible.

Then Jesus makes the famous analogy about the thief in the night. We never know when disaster may strike—this is a completely human analogy. Most of us can identify with this image—even if we haven’t had someone try to break in to our homes—which I have.

But even more, Advent reminds us that, as Christians, we live between times and between worlds. We have one foot planted in the past, and one foot planted in the future—we look to biblical prophecies like those in Isaiah as foretelling the Messiah, but then we claim Jesus as coming to change the game. We have one foot planted in the Old Testament, and one foot planted in the New. We have one foot planted in Israel, and one foot planted in the Greco-Roman world. And it is the same for us right now: we belong to a denomination that strives to make us aware that there is a breathless pause between the end of one year and the coming of the Messiah, that Christmas season doesn’t start the day after Thanksgiving (or worse, the day after Labor Day), but first we must prepare. We must make ready our hearts and minds for the coming of the Prince of Peace. This readiness takes time, and we must allow ourselves this gift above all other gifts we can pick up from Best Buy or or Wal-mart.  Advent is a gift we give to ourselves, to prepare ourselves to receive the Christ-child in holy expectation; to look to the future even as we are rooted in the past.

Meditation on Romans 13:11-14

(December 1, 2013, Advent 1, Year A of RCL)

Romans 13:11-14
You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

When I was a teen, my Sunday school class/youth group was asked to design an altar hanging for Advent.  It ended up being very simple: large dark golden letters spelled out “Sleepers, awake” with a Chi Rho against a purple background. This thing could easily be read from the back of the nave, and captured the main idea: that Advent is often described as a time of watchfulness, of anticipation, or preparation. It is a time of waking up and preparing for the coming of Christ.

Our reading from Romans also reminds us to get up and clothe ourselves in the armor of light rather than build up the works of darkness described in verse 13 (reveling, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling, jealousy). That armor is actually to clothe ourselves in Jesus, to center our thoughts on true discipleship and obedience rather than self-gratification (v. 14).

Meditation on Isaiah 2:1-5

(December 1, 2013, Advent 1, Year A of RCL)
Isaiah 2:1-5
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2 In days to come

the mountain of the LORD's house

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and shall be raised above the hills;

all the nations shall stream to it.

3 Many peoples shall come and say,

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob;

that he may teach us his ways

and that we may walk in his paths."

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4He shall judge between the nations,

and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

 they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more.

5 O house of Jacob,

come, let us walk

in the light of the LORD!

Verses 2-4 are virtually identical to Micah 4:1-3. Most scholars believe that Micah and Isaiah were contemporaries, although Isaiah is considered a major prophet while Micah is a minor prophet (as is also true about that other 8th century contemporary, Amos). Nonetheless, their context is very similar, with it being supposed that the author of Micah was a few years younger than that of Isaiah, and perhaps started his ministry later. It may be that this was a well-known poem quoted by both Isaiah and Micah.

The meaning of the name “Isaiah” is “Yahweh is salvation,” and indeed that is the focus of this prophetic book. As Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann writes: “In broad sweep, the story told in the book of Isaiah is the long account of Israel’s life in the midst of a demanding sequence of imperial powers…. What makes this rendering of Judah’s life distinctive is that the story is told with unfailing attentiveness to Yahweh, who is reckoned to be the primal player in the life of Judah and in the life of the world around Judah. The book of Isaiah, with wondrous artistry, manages to hold together the realities of lived public history in that ancient world and the inscrutable reality of Yahweh, who is said here to impinge incisively on that history. Thus the book of Isaiah is neither ‘history’ in the modern sense of that term nor ‘theology’ in any conventional way.” That is what prophecy is, according to Brueggemann. Within Isaiah, there is held in tension God’s judgment and God’s renewing mercy. Isaiah hopefully always holds out the “latter times” of God’s renewal and rebuilding as a different path than the “former times,” which are synonymous with God’s wrath and judgment (Isaiah, pp 1-2, 7-8). Thus, chapter 1 of Isaiah begins with the words, The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah….” and then proceeds to detail the wickedness of Judah under those kings and the fate that has befallen due to that wickedness. Embedded within this vision is a call to return to God. Our reading begins with the offer of a different life lived under faithfulness to God.

While there is now general agreement that the entire book of Isaiah that we now have is the work of at least two and probably at minimum three authors, chapters 1-12 are believed to have been written in the 8th century BCE by the prophet himself and that is where today’s reading originates. The king of Judah has abandoned trust in Yahweh, and therefore led the people to apostasy and rebellion against the true ruler—Yahweh. We know that there were dire consequences for the people of Judah, as we have discussed repeatedly, and our reading today is a call to return to trusting Yahweh alone as the source of salvation, not just for Judah, but universally-- for all peoples. In Isaiah 1: 8 and 11-14, it is pointed out that Jerusalem lies desolate and that the festivals kept as mere habit are pointless. Our selection from chapter 2 envisions when Jerusalem shall again be worthy of become the center of worship for God: through purification and turning away from evil and injustice (1:16-17).

Remember that chapter one began with Isaiah relating a vision. Notice the interesting way that our reading begins: it says that Isaiah “saw” the word concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Here is a prophetic sight related with beautiful detail. “The mountain of the Lord’s house” (v. 2) is Jerusalem. Most ancient religions placed the home of their god or gods on a high place—thus God’s home is literally exalted, and all eyes are drawn to where God is. This mountain is lifted up so high that the eyes—and as verse 3 reminds us, the feet and attention-- of all nations will be drawn to it. Jerusalem will be the center of instruction about God and from God for all. Verse 4 then makes clear that the way of God is the way that leads to peace—and in the context in which Isaiah was writing, the ability to destroy all the implements of war because they would no longer be necessary would indeed be a glimpse of paradise. Jerusalem will be the place where “thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” These latter times will be a version of the Pax Romana,” that brief moment when Roman rule supposedly meant peace and security. Here is the hope that Isaiah always holds out after terrifying visions of destruction and judgment, to give the people the understanding that, while their actions have consequences, there is always the plea to allow themselves to be redeemed. And as important as asking forgiveness is, it is just as important and sometimes more difficult to accept that one IS actually forgiven.

It is the way of humans to be in contention—and even among those who profess faith in God. Look at the cultural wars going on throughout history, and certainly within our own time. Even as Christianity seems to be fading away as a cultural force, there is great disparity within the Christian community as to what God calls us to do and behave. But really, to argue about how to worship God is not the way of God—yet even Jesus had to take on the Pharisees and the Sadducees. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians, “Now we see through a mirror—dimly; but then we shall see shall see face to face.” Our reading here longs for the day when Jerusalem will be the center of worship for all the world.

Prayer 314

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.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Meditation on Psalm 122

(December 1, 2013, Advent 1, Year A of RCL)
Psalm 122 Page 779, BCP
Laetatus sum
1 I was glad when they said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the LORD."
2 Now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built as a city
that is at unity with itself;
4 To which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD,
the assembly of Israel, to praise the Name of the LORD.
5 For there are the thrones of judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
"May they prosper who love you.
7 Peace be within your walls
and quietness within your towers.
8 For my brethren and companions' sake,
I pray for your prosperity.
9 Because of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek to do you good."

This psalm is one of the “psalms of ascents” (Psalms 120-134) that are also called “Songs of Steps” or “Pilgrim Songs.” This one, 122, was supposedly written by David, along with 124, 131, and 133. These 15 psalms were supposedly sung as pilgrims travelled to Jerusalem to attend the three “pilgrimage festivals” or (Shalosh R'galim): the festivals of Passover (also called the feast of unleavened bread), Pentecost (or Shavu’ot , also called the Feast of Weeks, celebrating the giving of the Torah), and Sukkot (or the Feast of the Booths). These psalms were also recited by priests—one psalm for each of the 15 steps they climbed to serve in the Temple. Thus we see here a declaration of joy and anticipation about serving in the house of the Lord. All 15 are hopeful in tone.

As with our reading from Isaiah, Jerusalem is named as the center of worship. Going to Jerusalem was always described as “going up.” If God’s abode is Jerusalem, then going to Jerusalem is “going to God;” and seeing Jerusalem is “seeing God.” If Jerusalem is identified with God, it must be “at unity with itself,” (v. 3). This is a vision for the future, since it certainly does not describe the true history of Jerusalem, either in the time of David or even today. This is a prayer for peace, security, and prosperity, but for ALL people, not in competition with one another.

Thus, this psalm is not so much about the actual city of Jerusalem as about the true worship of God, about orienting ourselves according to God’s axis, not our frail human values. In the midst of trial, are we not glad to “go to the house of the Lord” and “stand within his gates?” Is not God our refuge and source of joy and strength? May we all “pray for the peace of Jerusalem (v. 6)”—the peace of God which surpasses understanding but remakes us completely into lovers of justice and good (v. 8).

Prayer 313

Let us sit in the presence of God, the source and root of all our being. 

Let us sing praises to the Light of Christ, who calls us into fellowship with one another and sustains us in all our journeys. Let us be lifted by the Spirit of God our Savior, who fills us with wisdom and joy. Let us fasten upon the Word of God, and place ourselves under the sway of Love that never ends. Let us give thanks for the mercy and forgiveness of God, and seek to go and do likewise. 

We bring our intercessions before You, O Loving One, and raise up the needs of those whose cry is to You.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Prayer 312

O God, make my heart your dwelling-place, for You are my companion and my guide along the way. 

We rise with your praise upon our lips, for the Lord has been good to us indeed. You have called to us in trouble and in plenty; let us always sing out your untold blessings. You are our All-in-All, O Merciful One, and we give You thanks for all YOU have given us. God hovers over us and covers us with the hand of favor: all that I am I offer to God. God's comfort rests like a cooling breeze upon those who call upon their Redeemer, and we offer hymns of praise and thanksgiving. 

Watch over those for whom we pray, O God, and grant them rest.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Prayer 311

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.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Prayer 310

O Love Above All Loves, I know You are always with me: let me walk beside You this day. 

Let me place my hand in yours and remember that You are my shelter, my shepherd, and my strength. Let me not just worship you but learn from You, and be a true disciple of Christ. Let me practice true compassion in word and deed, and encourage others who seek their way. Let me remember the grace You have given me, and forgive as much as I have been forgiven. Let me put down the grudges I have clung to, and instead bear the love of Christ into the world as my raiment. 

Look with favor upon those for whom we pray, and lift up their needs before You.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Prayer 309

O Lord, You are our God, and we put all our trust in You. 

Bless us and keep us as we begin this week. Watch over those who travel, that they may safely arrive to the hearths of loved ones. Help us to be truly thankful for all we have received. Help us not to allow small things to make us forget the blessings we have been given by those in our lives. Help us to remember and open our hearts to those in need at this time and give generously that we all may be blessed. 

Hear the prayers of your people, O Light of Life, as we pray for these beloveds.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Prayer 278 (Inspired by Psalm 65)

We lift up our praise to You, O God, whose mercy is never-failing! 

We thank You for not just forgiving us for our manifold faults, but blessing us abundantly. You protect us like a mother bird hovers over her chicks; your wings spread over us to shield us and protect us from harm. You have placed us in a land You have made to bloom; our hills and fields are cloaked with fruit and grain. You have blessed us beyond imagining, and we raise hymns of praise as we proclaim our awe. You make our desert hearts to blossom: let us respond in kind to each other. 

Knowing You are always with us and dazzled by your Love, we ask that You look with favor on these, your servants today, as we place our prayers and concerns before You.


Prayer 308

You are our song, O God; you make our hearts glad as we enter your sanctuary. 

Make us a holy people, consecrated and dedicated and determined to glorify your Name. Breathe on us, O Breath of God: fill us with your Spirit, and propel us into those places which most need the light of Christ. In your great mercy forgive us all our offenses, against both You and our brothers and sisters. May we open our hearts so that Christ may reign in them always. 

Rest your hand upon all those whom we now name.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Prayer 307 (For Day 2 of Diocesan Convention)

O Lord, You are the source of life and light: You have made the sea and the dry land and all that dwells there. 

We thank You for all Your manifold kindnesses: let us seek to do Your will in all we do.
You have called us to be disciples: let us seek and serve Your wisdom, not that of the world.
You have given us a mission to love one another: let all our actions promote the love of God to the world.
You have given us resources and talents: let us not bury them but use them to proclaim Your salvation to the world.
Look with favor upon your people, as they work and as they pray and seek to open their hearts to You, Loving One. 

Give wisdom to those in authority, comfort to the weary, and protection to the traveller. Hear our petitions as we place them before You.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 306 (For Day 1 of Diocesan Convention)

We thank You, Loving One, for the gifts You have given us in your generosity and everlasting love for us.

For the blessing of this new day, that we use it to the glory and worship of your Name, we thank You, O God.
For the blessing of our talents and abilities, for we all can do something in service of You, we thank You, O God.
For the blessing of friends and loved ones, and for those we will meet today to see your face before us, we thank You, O God.
We lay our prayers and petitions before your altar, O Loving One, for You uphold us always.
Grant us the wisdom to seek your will, not ours, in all we do.
Grant us the will to fight for the weak, the outcast, the poor, and the lowly.
Let us seek always to hear the better angels of our nature & fulfill your command to establish justice and peace.

Grant us the strength to meet our challenges and trials with grace and perseverance, especially for these we now name.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Prayer 305

O God, You are our refuge and our rock: we put our trust in You. 

Help us to work together in harmony in the work You have given us, and let our deeds bring honor to Your name. Let us make your Word and commandments our sure foundation, and seek always to forgive rather than condemn. Let us remember the generous love You have given us, and uphold each other in our trials. Break the chains of fear and enmity we carry, and help us lift up the banner of love and compassion. 

Extend the shelter of your mercy over those for whom we pray this day.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Prayer 304

Teach us your ways, O God, that we may follow them all the days of our lives. 

Help us to walk humbly before You and before our fellow-travelers upon this earth, as your Son walked among us as a beggar. Let us earnestly seek the pardon of those who have wronged, and open our hearts to those in need. Let us combine justice and mercy in our actions, and be more quick to love than to condemn. Let us see the face of Christ in all who call out to us, that all be drawn together in the communion of heaven. 

Hear the prayers of those whose hope is not in our own worthiness but in You alone, and your Love.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Prayer 303

Merciful God, we thank you for this new day you have given us! 

Without your guidance we are like clouds that provide neither shade nor rain, adrift and without purpose. Make us a blessing to those we meet today: let us enact justice and give generously of ourselves. Let us reach out in compassion to those who suffer, and dry the tear of those in fear or anxiety. Let us be a balm to those who are afflicted in body or soul, and be patient guides to those who seek your ways. 

Hear the prayers of your people, O God, and attend to those whose cry is to You.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Prayer 302

Almighty God, we praise You and we bless You. 

Drive away the trials of the night, O God, and let us face the new day with a prayer on our lips. Give us the insight to do what we are called to, that our works are a testimony to your Name. Make us disciples of your Word and willing workers in your vineyard. Give your angels charge over those who are struggling, and gather those we now name under the shadow of your wing.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Prayer 301

Lead us into your holy places, O Great Jehovah! 

Gather us together as your people to sing your praises! Let us lift up our hands in praise and offering, raising up our hearts that our souls may be filled with the power of your Love! Send us forth to do your will, that peace and justice flourish in a thirsty land. Let us feed the hungry, tend the sick, comfort the sorrowing, and bring light to those in darkness. Sanctify us through the sacrifice of Christ our savior, and make us a holy people as we sing our thanksgiving for your grace. 

Hear the praises, prayers and supplications of your people, and let your Spirit rest upon those we now name.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Prayer 300

The Spirit of God calls to the depths of my soul: I rejoice in the presence of God my savior! 

God's love is everlasting, and I seek out the Holy One with all of my being. Let me raise my eyes toward the rising sun and my prayers before your radiance. Let me seek out your ways and treasure your commandments. Guide me, O Lord, in all my steps; your will be done. I thank you for all my blessings; and your comfort in times of trial. Send out your radiance to enlighten the nations, and help us to be your witness in the world. 

Send your angels to attend the needs of those for whom we pray, especially those we now name.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Prayer 299

O Lord, let our praises ascend as incense; let our prayers enter your presence. 

Let our hearts be a sanctuary, filled with the light of your bountiful Love. Your Name is on our lips, sweeter than honey; your Word is our bread and our meat, strengthening us for our labors. May justice and peace shine forth from our words and works to glorify Your commandments. May your compassion be poured as a balm on those who suffer; for You, O God, know our sorrows, and we lay them before You. 

May your benevolent mercy envelop those whose names we place before You.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Prayer 298- For Confidence

God is with us: who then can be against us? Whom should we fear? We thank You, O Blessed Redeemer, for your saving help in times of trouble and anxiety. We remember the times we were sinking and You, O Mighty One, embraced and preserved us, even as our will was failing and our hope dimmed. Let us never forget that You have claimed us as Your Own, just as a mother can never forget her children. Let us draw strength from the certainty of Your steadfast Love to then reach out to others in Your Name. You hear the smallest sigh from the depths of our being, O Lord: we are confident of your love despite our many faults. Extend the light of your everlasting mercy upon those for whom we now pray.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Prayer 297

Almighty God, guide us through this day that you have generously given us. 

Help us to seek out your Wisdom, that we may act with justice, clarity, and compassion. Open our hearts to allow your Word to take root, that we may bring glory to your Name. Help us to bring a spirit of reconciliation where there is discord, and let us seek forgiveness of those we have wronged. 

Rest your hand upon those we now name, that they may be strengthened and upheld by your generous love.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Prayer 296

Loving God, be a light unto us, to illuminate our hearts and reveal the path we should take;
Lord Jesus, be a guide unto us, that we may make our lives a witness to your good news of salvation and peace;
Holy Spirit, Breath of God, fill us with a faith that burns within us like the heart of the sun.
O God, embrace those who rejoice, be with those who are lost, lift up those who are bowed down, strengthen those who falter.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Prayer 295

Almighty God, all that we have comes from your generous hand, and we praise you and bless you for your goodness. 

You are with us always; let us always strive to be with God in all we do. Let us make Your commandments our rule of life: to love You, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Let us go rejoicing into the world, glorifying Your Name by what we do. Let us cling to You, O Loving One, and never forget that You have called us to be Your own. 

We ask that your Spirit rest upon those for whom we pray this day.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Prayer 294

We gather to worship the Source of All Being, our Merciful God and Loving Creator. 

Let us raise our voices in song and praise, for the Almighty has done great things for us and abides with us always. We offer to You our time, talents, and wealth, O God, for all things come from You. Let us clasp hands with friends and family to open our hearts to your Word and sacraments. Let us go forth in thanksgiving, strengthened and energized to do your work in steadfastness and joy! 

Guide us and guard us, O God, and give your angels watch over those for whom we pray this day.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Prayer 293

Great is our God, and greatly to be praised: 
God's mercy is everlasting! 

You welcome us into Your embrace, O God, 
and there we take our rest and find new strength.

You number the stars and comfort our sorrows,
knowing us all by name.

You teach the sparrow its song and fill our hearts with thanksgiving;
all creation sings its praise of Your goodness.

Let us abide with You in this moment, O Loving One:
Your love envelops us now and forever.


Yosemite Valley

Friday, November 8, 2013

Prayer 292

We praise You, O God, for Your blessings are without number. 

We thank You for your protection through the night, that we might rise and witness this glorious day. 

We thank You for the beauty of creation: that we remember we do not own it but are charged to protect it. 

We thank You for communities of family and friends who support us: we may reach out to those who are alone or vulnerable. 

We thank You for your boundless grace and forgiveness: may we forgive those who have wronged us, so that we may praise You with open hearts. 

O God, You are with us always: pour out the balm of Your love on those for whom we pray today.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Prayer 291

Place your hands upon us, O God, as we kneel before You; fill us as vessels of God, who is our strength and our protector. Imbue us with Your Spirit, and mark us with Your grace. 

Bless us as we make our way through the joys and obstacles of life day by day and hour by hour. Lift us up so that we may perceive the horizon of hope beyond the obstacles we magnify through our shortsightedness. 

Consecrate us to be a prayerful people who seek to renew our covenant of love with You and each other through faith. Ordain us to do our work as testimony to Your great goodness; inspire us and guide us, that Your song is sung out to all people with joy and thanksgiving. 

Give your healing and reviving touch to those whose needs we place at the gate of Your altar, especially those we now name.

Altar of repose, Chapel

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Prayer 290

Loving God, You call us into fellowship with one another throughout Scripture as a vision of Your heavenly kingdom. 

Draw together your children to be a people united by Love of You and each other, no matter what Name they call You by. Help us nurture the seeds of compassion in our hearts. Grant that we embrace our common humanity and see Christ in each person we encounter, in their joys, sorrows, poverty, and anxieties. Give us the will to work for each other and stand by each other, knit together as one family before You. 

Extend your blessing and comfort over those whose needs we lift up before You.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Prayer 289

Almighty God, as dawn drives away the shadows of night, your bountiful mercies are revealed to us, and we give You thanks. 

Your faithfulness, O God, is like a fresh-flowing stream: You are with us in anxiety and in joy. We know that You abide with us: let us remember to abide with You, and never wander far from your side. You are our faithful Friend who loves us without limit: may the light of your Love inspire the best in us. 

Bring the radiance of your compassion to bear on those whose concerns we lift before You.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Prayer 288

Loving God, we take our rest in your embrace, grateful for all your many blessings. 

Our hearts are firmly fixed upon your promises of mercy and our trust in your loving-kindness. We pledge to give to You the best of ourselves today, O God, to make ourselves a credit to your Name. Fan the embers of our hearts into a flame of justice and compassion, O Breath of God: inspire us to love each other as ourselves. 

Dispatch your angels to abide with those for whom we pray today.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Prayer 287

Gracious God, we offer to You from what You have already given us. 

You have given us discerning minds: let us use them to seek your wisdom. You have given us free will: let us use it to fulfill your commandments. You have given us seeking hearts: let us use them to see God in every one, and everyone. You have given us talent and skill: let us use them to do your will, build your kingdom, and glorify your Name. Almighty God, we offer You our treasure, our time, and our obedience as a holy oblation in response to Your generous Love. 

Spread the shade of your mercy over those for whom we pray today.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Prayer 286 (Lord's prayer cycle)

Our Father in heaven, yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory! 

We lift up our praises and thanksgivings for your dominion, as it is and as it shall be. At your command all things are, and the rising sun reveals the glory of your creation and majesty. May you reign in our hearts, and may we glorify your Name as your people. Let us set our hands to build your kingdom on earth by living according your to commands, establishing justice, and loving always. 

Hear our prayers and supplications that we raise before You, especially for those we now name.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Prayer 285 (Lord's Prayer cycle)

Our Father in heaven, save us from the time of trial, for we are prone to wander and lose our way. 

Make us stronger in our faith and more willing to wrestle with the angel of doubt. Guide us into living and loving more fully according to your precepts. Help us turn aside all vain ambitions and concentrate fully upon your Word. Give us courage to make our hearts bigger, even if that makes them bigger targets, for love is always the answer. Help us to persevere through the difficulties of life, knowing that You are always with us. Give us the sight to see hope amid darkness. 

O Loving One, hear our prayers and grant your benediction and grace to those whose needs we now raise before You.