Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Prayer 617- for those in time of trial



Come Holy Spirit, and heal our hearts. Bring us together, unified in body, heart, and soul, to soothe the sorrowing and comfort the afflicted. Give us hands and hearts and will to do your work, O God, that justice rolls down to restore the land. May we seek reconciliation as the foundation for true peace in both our relationships and in the world. May we stand with brothers and sisters in time of mourning or in time of trial: we pray for your peace and grace to bear them up. We rest and renew our spirits in the loving arms of God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Bless us with holy wisdom, O Loving One, and hear the prayers of your people.

Amen.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Prayer Day 616


Creator God, we come before You in awe for the works of Your Hands which sustain us in each moment and breath. Almighty One, we lie down in sleep and rise in thanksgiving, knowing that You are always by our sides. You set the stars in their courses- help us follow the paths of peace and justice this day. You clothe the lilies of the field in beauty-- help us to put on the raiment of righteousness and walk humbly with our companions. Your eye is on the sparrow- watch over those who are in need, sorrow, or pain, especially these we now name.

Amen.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Prayer 615


O God, we raise our voices in praise to You, and offer our prayers in hope and trust. Let us go into your courts with thanksgiving, and seek to serve you always. Let us join together at your altar, offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, fed by your grace. Send us out, renewed and energized to love and serve our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Incarnate One. Guide and guard us on right pathways as we seek to testify to your love and mercy. Fill us with your Spirit, and enliven our minds to hear your Word. Trusting in your unfailing love in times of joy or anxiety, we lift up these loved ones especially to your care.
Amen.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Commentary on Exodus 17:1-7


Exodus 17:1-7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2The people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?" 3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?" 4So Moses cried out to the Lord, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me." 5The Lord said to Moses, "Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink." Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?"

(Note: We saw this reading earlier this year on the 3rd Sunday in Lent, March 23.)

As I was pondering this reading, I was enjoying a rare afternoon to sit in my backyard garden. It’s the first day off I’ve had in about a month. I decided while I was sitting here to water all the different plants in the hillside garden around the seating area where I like to work. I made sure to fill up the birdbaths while I was at it. Then I just turned on the hose and let it start running down the hill to water all the hostas, ferns, and other plants that dwell under the canopy of trees in our backyard. After about 10 minutes, suddenly there was great rejoicing in the Land of Birds, and dozens of sparrows, finches, chickadees, and wrens began to wing their way over to wash themselves in the birdbath and in the puddles of water on the ground. One of them even had the temerity to land on the empty birdfeeder, give me the stink eye, rap the base of the empty feeder sharply with its beak a couple times, and then flutter off in a huff, as if to say, “Get up off your duff, and get me some food, woman.” Never mind that I had generously turned on the hose, which is what had drawn these birds here in the first place. Never mind that I had graciously filled the bird bath and emptied of all the leaves and other junk that accumulated in it.  This bird was not satisfied, and he was letting me know it. Meanwhile, a gang of sparrows promptly and joyously splashed out all the water I had placed in the birdbath, and one of them flew to a branch over my head and started to shrilly berate me to refill it.

Are these birds never satisfied?

And the answer is, NO. Once I started providing them with birdseed and water, they expect me to keep doing it.  The nerve! That’s also the way it is when you help people, sometimes, too.  There are some people in the world who, when you get into a relationship with them, it ends up being all about them. No matter how much you give them, they always want more. No matter how much you give them, they’re never grateful. They never seem to stop and think, ”Okay, that’s enough.” Some of those people we call ”babies,” and having one of those things basically means a lifetime of servitude to them (I’m kidding). They’re perfectly satisfied when all their needs are met—the problem is, that their needs don’t STAY met. Anyone was ever changed a filthy diaper, smiled into the angelic face of a six-month-old who has fought you every step of the way while you clean her up, and then watched her bat her eyelashes and coo blissfully and immediately fill that diaper right back up with a toxic substance probably banned by the Geneva Convention knows what I’m talking about.

The Israelites are the same way. Over and over again, they long for their days of  slavery in Egypt over freedom in the wilderness. The more the going gets tough out in the Sinai peninsula, the more rosy their memories of their time in Egypt becomes. “Meh! The work wasn’t that hard! At least we had cucumbers!”

Forgotten is the groaning that they raised up to God—groaning so loud that God could not ignore it. Nope, just like infants, the minute their tummies grumble or their mouths get dry, they turn and bite the hand that feeds them. Last week we saw God provide them with meat and bread, manna and quail that fell from the sky, and all the Israelites had to do was go and pick it up. Today, it’s water—or, specifically, the perceived lack of it. Gripe, gripe, gripe. Complain, complain, complain. I think that’s one of the reasons why, although it did them very little credit, the ancient Israelites liked to tell this story on themselves-- one of the side purposes was probably to explain just why they complained so much, as all of us do.

Sometimes, we focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do. Here are the Israelites, freed from slavery in Egypt, moaning about how their every need isn’t being taken care of while they are traveling back to their homeland. We are an unhappy, discontented, grumbling people at times. Our reading from Exodus today is one of an Old Testament genre called “murmuring stories.” These are stories in which the people “murmur”—in our text, it is rendered as “quarreled,” but it seems that misses the flavor. “Murmuring against” someone is so much more suggestive of that tendency we all have to mutter just audibly enough to be heard, that passive-aggressive tactic that allows one to later deny that she has said anything at all. Murmuring of this type is filled with negativity, ingratitude, a simmering resentment. Freedom includes responsibility to look at our situation with clear eyes. And the first step is to be glad that we are free.

In Exodus 16, we hear the first mention of the conveniently named “Wilderness of Sin,” which is also called the “wilderness of Zin” in Numbers, as well as “Wilderness of Sinai.” Wilderness of Sinai has an entirely different feeling, however—in English, a “wilderness of sin” elicits a metaphorical response: who hasn’t felt lost in a wilderness of sin? The concept of wilderness also creates images of chaos, bleakness, desolation. Wilderness is where Jesus goes to be tempted and to encounter Satan, but it’s also a place where one can be alone and encounter God, as when Moses discovered the burning bush. The “Wilderness of Sin” will make three appearances named as such in the Torah: In Exodus 16, Exodus 17, and Numbers 33. We also see Moses using his staff, as he did when he turned the Nile into blood, and when he turned that staff itself into a snake before the Pharaoh as signs of God’s power and might.

A parallel version of this story appears in Numbers 20:1-13, but has an entirely different spin, since it appears as though Moses and Aaron make it sound as if they themselves, are the ones who make the water come out of the rock, rather than the “holiness of God.” In the Numbers version, afterwards, God then punishes Moses and Aaron by declaring that they will not get to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.

Meribah means “strife,” or “contention,” and Massah means “test.” Moses names this place Massah and Meribah because the people are demonstrating a lack of trust in God—and if you know scripture, this certainly won’t be the last time, either.

There is a lesson here for all of us. The people have been in the wilderness for about two months, and they are wondering where that “land flowing with milk and honey” is. But more immediately, they need water, and supplies are getting low. Even though they have come so far, the people question the commitment of God to provide for them, to care for them in this most basic need. But that saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn” really does have some truth behind it. Rather than focus on how we feel deprived, or lash out in fear when we feel uncertain, we can remind ourselves of the blessing of being one people, united by a common calling and a common identity, our common love of God, who has freed us so that we can love God through our own choice.

Commentary on Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16


Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16 Page 694, BCP
Attendite, popule
1 Hear my teaching, O my people;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.
3 That which we have heard and known,
and what our forefathers have told us,
we will not hide from their children.
4 We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the LORD,
and the wonderful works he has done.
12 He worked marvels in the sight of their forefathers,
in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He split open the sea and let them pass through;
he made the waters stand up like walls.
14 He led them with a cloud by day,
and all the night through with a glow of fire.
15 He split the hard rocks in the wilderness
and gave them drink as from the great deep.
16 He brought streams out of the cliff,
and the waters gushed out like rivers.

This psalm has two main purposes: to praise and to instruct. When we tell stories about our past, both of these purposes can be accomplished. There has been a lot of hubbub in the education world this week about students walking out of class in Texas in response of attempts of some conservative school board members to forbid the criticism of American actions in the teaching of US history, in particular. Psalm 78 is an example of this kind of celebratory history: All the good bits of God’s help to Israel during the Exodus are here. But what is missing? Look back at our reading from Exodus. Yes, that’s right. All the complaining and kvetching and ingratitude of the Israelites is missing. And what is the result of this selective recounting of the very story we’ve been reading all these weeks compared to the one from Exodus?

It’s a completely different story, that’s what.

It’s not a different story about God, really, but it kind of loses the flavor of God providing for the people EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE ACTING LIKE UNGRATEFUL TODDLERS. God certainly is good in Psalm 78, but let’s face it, anyone who has spent time with a kid or a pet knows that being generous and compassionate even in the face of mulishness and constant demands is even more praise-worthy.

Verses 15-16 tell the part of the Exodus story we just read a few minutes ago.

In verse 12, there is a reference to the “field of Zoan.” The name “Zoan” means “place of departure,” and refers to the place where the Israelites left Egypt by crossing the Red Sea, although really Zoan is on the Tanitic branch of the Nile, so called because it is near the ancient city of Tanis.

Once again proving the danger of the internet to lead one down immensely pleasurable but nonetheless time-wasting rabbit holes, I discovered that, according to http://biblehub.com/topical/z/zoan.htm, this was the location of the ancient city of Tanis. Tanis… Tanis…. And suddenly, my weird encyclopedic knowledge of movie dialogue and song lyrics brought me to type these words into Google: “Indiana Jones Tanis” and hit return. Behold, friends! I give you this, from http://indianajones.wikia.com/wiki/Tanis!
Indiana Jones uses the correct length of staff to be able to find the Well of Souls in Tanis, which contained the Ark of the Covenant. So cool! The fact that he later got thrown into the Well of Souls to die is a mere trifle.
Yes, the fields of Zoan, AKA Tanis, was the city that Nazi-funded Rene Belloch and Indiana Jones both were searching to find the Lost Ark of the movie title. And if you do not know what I am talking about, please run, do not walk, to Netflix and watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, and then come back. You can thank me later.

Commentary on Matthew 21:23-32


Matthew 21:23-32
When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" 24Jesus said to them, "I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, `From heaven,' he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?' 26But if we say, `Of human origin,' we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet." 27So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons
28"What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' 29He answered, `I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir'; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him."

The setting in context: In chapter 21 of Matthew, Jesus makes a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The crowds (some, but not all ,of Jerusalem) greet him with shouts full of messianic imagery in v. 21:9: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (language we recognize from the opening of the liturgy leading to Eucharist in Eucharistic Prayer A). He proceeds to get right in the face of the priests and Pharisees by engaging in his wild cleansing of the Temple in vv. 12-17. Then we have the humorous and petulant nugget of a story of Jesus cursing of the fig tree that bore no fruit in verses 18-22. The cleansing of the Temple is not just a religious act of a zealot but a political act that could undermine the role of the chief priests and elders in the eyes of the Jewish population. The chief priests and elders believe that they serve an important role as intermediaries between the people and the occupying Roman Empire. And here comes this wild-eyed erratic hick, claiming that he is all about peace while looting the Temple’s marketplace, threatening to bring disaster down upon everyone’s heads.

So let’s understand: when the chief priests and elders approach Jesus in v. 23, they are fully aware of the criticism he is leveling at them in these actions, and in that it seems like a big chunk of Jerusalem agrees with him. And they are PISSED. So you can bet there was a certain… tone… in their opening question, a definite visual once-over that takes in his peasant’s clothing and dusty sandals and probably unkempt hair and sweat stains from all that throwing money-changers’ tables around. “Who the heck do you think you are??” they ask with an implied sneer. “We’re the people with the power around here. We’ve got a nice set-up here, and we’re not about to let some carpenter’s son from the sticks imply that they are promoting irreverence and blasphemy.” Allowing the sale of animals and the breaking of change is a practical matter in a cultic system that requires animal sacrifice.

So Jesus does that really annoying thing that most of us can’t stand: he answers a question with a question. And some of us who have been following along all through the year probably are glad to see him taking a page from the playbook of his opponents and trying to use a question to trip them up instead, since this certainly was one of their favorite tactics. It is obvious at this point that Jesus is in no mood to play. There are 10 different times in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus is asked questions directly, and at least three times were Matthew notes the questions were asked in order to “test” Jesus.  Although the primary cause of this question is indignation and probably not a little fear, Jesus uses this occasion as a chance to test them, his opponents. Jesus agrees to answer their question—if, first, they can answer a question of his.

And the chief priests and elders did not get to the position they are in now without sensing the trap. His question in v. 25 gets at the heart of the authority of John the Baptist. The game is afoot! Given that the authorities have opposed John the Baptist, they certainly cannot say that his actions were ordained by God;  yet, if they answer that John was a fraud, religiously speaking, they could very well face a riot, since many of the people who supported the temple believed in John.  So they fall back on the classic answer used by students everywhere: “we don’t know.” And when they chicken out, Jesus then responds with a refusal to answer.

Jesus’s question gets at the heart of his ministry, however. And in a way, he does answer their question—or at least provides a hint for the readers of the gospel of Matthew. Jesus’s ministry had started with his baptism by John. In Matthew’s Gospel, the beginning of chapter 3 explains that John served as a prophet, announcing the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus was baptized by John in chapter 3, and is driven immediately thereafter into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, in 4:1-11, to be tested by the devil.  At Matthew 4:12, Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee, and in v. 18 he calls his first disciples; by v. 23 crowds of people are following him. The authority of Jesus and the authority of John build upon each other: John is the foundation, and Jesus is the New Temple built upon that foundation, as was hinted at in the questions that the devil asked him in the wilderness in chapter 4. What Jesus is saying here is this: if John’s authority comes from God, then so does that of Jesus, since Jesus is the fulfillment of John’s prophecies and ministry.

The second half of our reading makes this linkage explicit. The parable of the two sons is the first of three parables that expose the greed and injustice of Jerusalem’s religious leaders--  the other two include the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (which we will read next week) and the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (which is not read during this liturgical year at all).

Any of us who have spent time with teenagers can see that the story of the two sons is pulled from real life. If I had a dollar for every time one of my students or my children had told me they were going to do something, and then didn’t do it, I could buy a football team. The refusal of the kid to do something, only to go ahead and do it later, also happens, although not as frequently as we would like. Sometimes kids just have to refuse to do stuff to assert their independence, even when they know that there’s a good reason to do the thing they’ve been asked to do.

The Pharisees, the religious leaders, and the elders, all claim to be doing the will of God, and being obedient to God. Their notions of purity and propriety lead them to condemn and sometimes even shun others—specifically, the tax collectors and prostitutes that Jesus mentions in v. 31.  Yet, those same outcasts, those people limited to the margins of society by the rules of the authorities, are exactly the people who are listening to Jesus’s radical gospel message. Jesus makes it clear that although the lives of tax collectors and prostitutes may not have been examples of obedience up to this point, ultimately they demonstrate obedience by becoming true disciples of Christ—by being transformed in the way that our epistle speaks of. The repeated refusal of the chief priests and elders to understand Jesus’s authority as the Messiah places them in the role of the first son in the parable.

Saying you are going to do something is not enough, unless you follow through. Now, of course, refusing to do something and then later doing it is also pretty stupid. But, at least in that second case, the work does eventually get done. Just as in the parable of a lot of sheet that Jesus told in Matthew 18:10 -14; just as in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard that we heard last week; what ultimately matters is that you attend to the Gospel, accept it, and are transformed by it.

Prayer 610


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 passes all understanding to those we now name.

Amen.

Prayer, day 614 (Based on Psalm 31)




(inspired by Psalm 31)
In You, O God, do we take refuge:
our trust is in You as we cry out in distress.
Even when the darkness surrounds us,
when walls close in upon us,
You are our mighty fortress.
Preserve us within the storms of life,
for though the tempest rages about us,
You are our God.
Mighty winds may blow and howl,
but You,
O God,
are our rock of refuge and stronghold to keep us safe.
For You take heed of our souls' distress
and will never give us up to the power of darkness and despair.
We rest in the hands of the Almighty:
we rejoice in your mercy and lovingkindness.
Watch over your children, we pray,
and embrace those who rest within You, especially:

Prayer Day 614- inspired by Psalm 31 (repeat)



(inspired by Psalm 31)
In You, O God, do we take refuge:
our trust is in You as we cry out in distress.
Even when the darkness surrounds us,
when walls close in upon us,
You are our mighty fortress.
Preserve us within the storms of life,
for though the tempest rages about us,
You are our God.
Mighty winds may blow and howl,
but You,
O God,
are our rock of refuge and stronghold to keep us safe.
For You take heed of our souls' distress
and will never give us up to the power of darkness and despair.
We rest in the hands of the Almighty:
we rejoice in your mercy and lovingkindness.
Watch over your children, we pray,
and embrace those who rest within You

Commentary on Philippians 2:1-13


Philippians 2:1-13
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 
6who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death--
even death on a cross.
9Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

(Note: some of these verses – in particular, 5 through11 -- are part of the Palm Sunday liturgy.)

Well, this just about sums it all up, doesn’t it? If we want to be Christ-like, we have to be humble and completely self-effacing. It’s in the very nature of who we understand Christ to be, and that the Pauline epistles do such a good job of reminding us: one who was the greatest became a humble human, and not just a human but a peasant in the farthest, out-of-the-way occupied corner of a vast and relentless empire. Jesus faced rejection again and again, even to the point of being accused of being a rebel and blasphemer and dying for it.

At verse 7, Paul speaks of Jesus “emptying himself” of all his rightful honor and glory due to him as the Son of God, and choosing to be born lowly as a human. The Greek term for this is “kenosis,” and this section of Philippians is known as “the kenosis hymn.”

Kenosis is emptying ourselves of our willfulness, all of our prerogatives for self- aggrandizement, and becoming completely obedient to God. For Jesus, this means giving up all of the power he could wield as the Son of God, all of his ability to simply say “NO!” and being obedient to God’s will. As Christians, we seek to emulate Christ’s humanity as much as possible, and we are also called to obedience and humility—and after all, we have a lot more to be humble about!

This is an act of obedience, of bending our human will to the will of God. Discipleship leads to paradox—being humble will lead to exaltation, the last shall be first, the youngest will triumph over the eldest. We see this pattern over and over again in scriptures, and we’ve noted it several times this year.

The final two verses remind us that discipleship has to be oriented to doing God’s will, not our own. It’s too easy to fall into the belief that Jesus, God incarnate, is just like us rather than trying to be more like Him.

In one of my classes this week, we were talking about this quote from Anne Lamott:

That’s always been one of the main challenges in Christianity. We anthropomorphize God, turning that whole “made in God’s image” thing from Genesis on its head. We don’t need a God who is more like us. We need to be a people who are more like God. And the good news is, we already have a template: God has lived among us as one of us, and God continues to live among us. And as self-proclaimed members of the Body of Christ, there is our charge. Even though it is clear, it certainly is not easy. Transformation never is. Transformation, both of ourselves and of our world, requires work, and that starts with the will to do it (v. 13).

May we have the will to do the work. May we allow God to be at work in us, so that we may do God’s work in the world.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Prayer 613 (For Rosh Hashanah)


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 bond of love and friendship that holds 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.

Amen.

Prayer 613- For Rosh Hoshanah


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 bond of love and friendship that holds 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.


Amen.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Prayer 612- for times of trial


O God, draw us to your light and truth, that we may sit at your feet in awe and reverence, in peace and safety. You are our Rock, O God, the solid ground on which we stand as our lives whirl around us. Let us stand before your courts, and sing praises to your grace, truth, and power, the foundation of our lives. We thank You for friends and loved ones who bless us and draw near us, who uphold us and support us always. I close my eyes, and feel your presence rest upon my shoulders with the warm weight of love. Send your Spirit to press upon me, O Holy One, let me nestle my head into the crook of your wing. Shade me from the heat of all that oppresses me, for it is in You that I trust. Although I falter, I feel the wind of your comfort at my back, and your loving-kindness bears me forward. Have mercy, O God, on all whose hope rests in You.

Amen.

Prayer 612


O God draw us to your light and truth, that we may sit at your feet in awe and reverence, in peace and safety. You are our Rock, O God, the solid ground on which we stand as our lives whirl around us. Let us stand before your courts, and sing praises to your grace, truth, and power, the foundation of our lives. We thank You for friends and loved ones who bless us and draw near us, who uphold us and support us always. 

 I close my eyes, and feel your presence rest upon my shoulders with the warm weight of love. Send your Spirit to press upon me, O Holy One, let me nestle my head into the crook of your wing. Shade me from the heat of all that oppresses me, for it is in You that I trust. Although I falter, I feel the wind of your comfort at my back, and your loving-kindness bears me forward. 

Have mercy, O God, on all whose hope rests in You.

Amen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Prayer 611


Light of Life, Love of All Loves, hear our prayers, and hallow our ways. We arise from our rest with the seal of God's protection upon us, and gratitude fills our hearts and our mouths. Let our tongues sing out the glory of God, which dawns upon us and provides light for our ways. O Holy One, we rest within your embrace, and put our trust in You, for you have claimed us and delivered us. Give us compassion for all living beings, that we tread reverently upon the earth. Strengthen us in walking your paths of mercy and humility, just as we pray to receive mercy and forgiveness. O God, we lift up the needs of all those disquieted in body, mind, heart, or spirit: let your blessing rest upon them.

Amen.

Prayer 611


Light of Life, Love of All Loves, hear our prayers, and hallow our ways. We arise from our rest with the seal of God's protection upon us, and gratitude fills our hearts and our mouths. Let our tongues sing out the glory of God, which dawns upon us and provides light for our ways. O Holy One, we rest within your embrace, and put our trust in You, for you have claimed us and delivered us. Give us compassion for all living beings, that we tread reverently upon the earth. Strengthen us in walking your paths of mercy and humility, just as we pray to receive mercy and forgiveness. O God, we lift up the needs of all those disquieted in body, mind, heart, or spirit: let your blessing rest upon them.

Amen.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Prayer 609


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.

Amen.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Prayer 608


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.

Amen.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Prayer 607


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.


Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Prayer 606

Ste. Chappelle, Paris.

O God we thank You for the joy You give us in Your creation. Buoyed by your Holy Spirit, may our rejoicing testify throughout the world that your Love endures forever! Let us be holy fools, instead of being wholly foolish by failing to give You thanks and praise! Let our songs of praise echo in the valleys of despair, for our God is lifting us up on the wings of grace. May weeping depart with the rising sun, and joy come to live in the home of our hearts. May the ground of our hearts, which has been watered with tears, bear the fruit of love and compassion for others. Knowing You are ever and always before, beside, and behind us, we offer You the petitions of these loved ones.

Amen.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Prayer 605


O God, your steadfast love shields us behind and before: may our song of praise illuminate our day. 

Let us stand firmly on the holy ground of your truth, and let us build ourselves into a house of holy action. Let us remember that love is not shown in words but in action and attitude, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Let everything we do be done to our utmost in the name of love, with our hearts and souls poured out for You, O Messiah. Let us seek to treasure and love our brothers and sisters as much as we love ourselves. 

Give us that wisdom and love that helps us build your kingdom, Lord Christ. Let us never forget that where wisdom and love meet, there is justice and peace. Let us advocate for our sisters and intercede for our brothers, uniting our voices in the name of compassion and hope. We pray especially for these needs and concerns on our hearts today.

Amen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Prayer 604


O Loving God, with whispered sighs we place ourselves within the circle of your mercy today. Help us tear down the walls of fear, rejection and prejudice, and shield us from those who are heedless to the pain they cause. We pray for those who find no rest, no peace, that the embrace of your love may enfold them. We pray for those who feel they are sinking, that the arms of grace may bear them up as a mother carries a sleeping child. We pray for those exhausted from the fight, that the Spirit of healing and strength warm them and bathe them in light. O Merciful God, pour out your peace and grace like oil on the troubled waters of our times. Send your blessing especially on those we now name.

Amen.
 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Prayer 603

Produce from the parish garden bound for Trinity's Food Pantry.

Almighty One, bring us into the light of your love with thanksgiving and humility. 

Protect us and shield us from falling into sin or frustration; teach us to cultivate equanimity in our hearts. Give us the wisdom to do your will, and extend the bonds of our love to those with whom we struggle. May we hold fast to your commandments as children hold tight to the hands of their mother. 

Make us ardent lovers of your truth, steadfast in our devotion to You and each other. Draw us within the gravity of your grace, and remember always your call to faithfulness and peace. Accept the prayers and concerns which overflow our hearts, and anoint the hearts of those for whom we pray.

Amen. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Prayer 602


Holy One, You are our Alpha and our Omega: let us offer everything within us to You. Consecrate us and hallow us: make us a people of prayer, and a people of action. O God, You are our Shepherd: may we open our ears and hearts to hear you in both the silences and the storms. Lord Christ, You are our Guide: may our lives witness to your Gospel and sing out your Truth. Holy Spirit, You are our Comforter: may the hope You give us overflow our hearts and help us bring hope to the world. May we breathe in the Love of God, and breathe out the Peace of God. May all we do be centered upon building your kingdom today. May we be a people of joy, a people of thankfulness, a people sealed and marked as Christ's own in the world. Centered in your bountiful mercy and grace, O God, we remember and offer up these loved ones who call upon You.

Amen.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Prayer 601


Let us praise God with all of creation, and enter God's sanctuary with thanksgiving! Let us answer the call of love and worship with each other, praising the gift of this new day. May we sit at the feet of wise mothers and fathers, and be inspired by their lives of service and faith to You. May we contemplate and treasure your word, and may it take root and flower within our hearts. May our spirits ascend like incense toward the light of your wisdom, O Holy One. May we offer to you, O Savior, our everything, that we may be filled with your light and truth. Unite us in love with one another, that we may glorify your Holy Name. Bend your ear to hear our prayers, and extend the awning of your love over those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Prayer 600


God of Glory, You are the captain of our souls and our safe harbor from all enemies: let us praise your Holy Name. You have guided us through the trackless time of dreaming: we thank You for your love which never sleeps. Let us cast off all that anchors us down in uncertainty. Let the light of your favor and mercy steer us past the shoals our enemies place before us. May we raise up our blessings and allow our heartaches to drift away on a rising tide of prayer and praise. Breathe your spirit upon us and send us forward into the dawn, bearing the precious weight of your truth and justice. May we run with the wind of your grace behind us, urging us toward the horizon of hope and peace. Place your angels on watch over all who call upon your mercy, O Holy One.

Amen.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Prayer 599


Lord, we thank You for your watching over us through the night: let us place ourselves in your hands this day. 

May our actions be witness to your unfailing love and mercy, O God of Grace. Help us to be thankful for those whose love uplifts us and bring us closer to You, the Source of All Love. 

Let us never be detached in the face of sadness or suffering, O Redeemer, but honor one another's beauty and humanity. Mindful of our faults, make us humble and compassionate in our reactions: let our hearts be clay in your hands. Let us be generous in love and slow to anger, seeking reconciliation from those we have hurt. 

May we treat each other as beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, who calls us to unity in love and faithfulness. Grateful in our fellowship with You and with all creation, we ask your blessing upon our brothers and sisters.

Amen.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Prayer 598- On September 11

"Poppy Field" by Claude Monet. Poppies have been used to memorialize the loss of life in battle; their crimson color reminds us of the price paid in war. From the Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

God, You show us through the glorious Trinity the way of mutual love that leads to action: hear our prayers, we pray.
That we may place no bonds upon each other but the bonds of love, equality, and peace, we pray You, O God.
That we may be knit together in a common cause to nourish all who hunger in body, mind, or soul, we pray You, O God.
That we may use our might for mercy and justice, rather than vengeance and violence, we pray You, O God.
That we may be faithful and compassionate stewards of your wondrous creation, we pray You, O God.
That we remember those we have lost through violence and terror, and honor their lives by sowing peace and concord, we pray You, O God.
Ground of our Being, Creator, Comforter, hear the prayers of your people, and extend your peace over those we now name.


Amen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Daily prayer, day 597


On the ceiling of the entryway into the Press building, Eden seminary.

Creator God, we come before You in awe for the works of Your Hands which sustain us in each moment and breath. You set the stars in their courses- help us follow the paths of peace and justice this day. You clothe the lilies of the field in beauty-- help us to put on the raiment of righteousness and walk humbly with our companions. Your eye is on the sparrow- watch over those who are in need, sorrow, or pain, especially these we now name.

Amen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Daily prayer, day 596- In thanksgiving for a birthday

The edifice of the Press Building, Eden Seminary.

(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

Monday, September 8, 2014

Prayer 595


Each day is a precious gift, O God: Let our praise rise to You, as hope lifts the hearts of your people. Here in Your embrace we have rested, O Loving One. Now we go out to the harvest fields we are blessed to tend, knit together in holy love. Let the roots of hope grow deep. Let compassion overflow into the spaces where hearts are hollow. Let us be drawn into the embrace of the One who knows all our needs. Let those who are troubled be restored and renewed, filled with the strength of God's grace. Here we offer our prayers to You, O God.

Amen.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Daily prayer, day 594- for worship

Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite National Park, taken from the lookout point after the tunnel across the valley.

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.

Amen.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Prayer 593


Almighty God, our spirits dance before you like flames of light: make us blaze anew with your lovingkindness.
Banish from us the darkness of intolerance, hatred and misunderstanding. Lord, your kindnesses to us outnumber the stars that guide us on our way and whisper your love.
Cradle us within your embrace, O Loving Mother, and make of us newborn hearts, open as the sky to your mysteries. Bend over us, O Holy Father, and hear our sighs and whispered prayers.


Amen.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Prayer of Praise- Day 592


Glory to You, Loving One, glory to You: we rise to sing your praise.
All things come into being at your Word: let all I do and all I am be inspired by You.
You have molded all creation to work in harmony: let our love and obedience be a witness in the world.
You abide with us in faithfulness even when we falter: may we seek you always in our need.
You hold all our times in your hand: be with those who laugh and those who weep.
May your Spirit rest upon those whose needs are known to You alone, and those whom we now name.

Amen.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Prayer 591

Detail from a window at Trinity Tulsa.

O God, we rise from our beds with your seal upon our hearts: accept our offered prayers. 

Sometimes we fear we are sinking: if we are going to sink, let us sink into your embrace, O Holy One. Sometimes we fear we are lost: if we are going to get lost, let us get lost in the beauty of Your creation. Sometimes, we are doubtful: If we are going to doubt, let it draw us closer to faith. 

Lord Christ, you know the struggles we encounter: move into the chambers in our hearts and fill them with grace. Be our companion and comfort, O Spirit, in the chances and changes that confront us. 

Mindful of all blessings, and in unity with each other in good times and bad, we lift our prayers before You, O Almighty.

Amen. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Prayer 590- Serenity

Strawflowers on the grounds of Eden herald autumn and provide work for many skipper butterflies.

Breathe your Spirit upon us, O Holy One.
Let us hear the symphony of our pulse and know the miracle of your grace.
Let us empty our hearts of all resentment so that they may fill with gratitude.
Let us sit at your feet and be grateful for each breath.
Let us breathe in your wisdom, and breathe out your love.
Let us be still and know that You are our God.
Let us be one in spirit with You, O God, and with those for whom we pray

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Prayer 589- In gratitude

Today, September 2, 2104, was Opening Convocation and my first class at Eden Seminary.


God of Mercy and Compassion, we draw near to you in prayer in the glory of this day. We praise You, Creator, for the stars in their courses and the seas in their depths, for the splendor of all that is. O Christ, who spread your loving arms wide upon the cross, bring us into your embrace. O Spirit, inspire us to new heights of devotion and serenity. 

May we set our hearts and minds upon your wisdom, O God, and tell out your truth is all we say and do. May we act with generosity and compassion to all beings, and make each others' burdens our own. Guide us in the ways of open-heartedness and truth, and make us humble and devout in all our paths today. 

Awed by your unfailing love, O God, we ask your blessing upon those we now name.

Amen.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Prayer 588- For Labor Day


Creator God, who brought the universe into being as a mother births her children: we thank You for the gift of this day. 

Bless the handiwork of all who labor, who toil with their hands, minds, and imaginations for the benefit of all. Bless those whose work feeds us, provides shelter for us, and increases our comfort. Bless mechanics, electricians, carpenters, and all whose skill enriches our common life. Bless doctors and nurses and health care workers, all those whose work heals us and makes us well. Bless musicians, writers, artists, and craftsmen, and all those whose work feeds our deepest selves. Bless teachers, rabbis, ministers, and priests, who tend to our souls and nurture our minds, drawing us closer to You. Bless those leaders who serve our country with honor, who work to the benefit of the greater good. 

Remembering that we are all caught in a web of mutuality, may we work for and uplift each other today and every day. Hear, O God, the concerns of your people, especially for those we now name.

Amen.