Saturday, December 31, 2016

Prayer 1440: Light in Darkness

Light in the darkness, Camp Phoenix, 2015.
Most Blessed Jesus,
we find our home in your embrace:
accept the prayers of our hearts.
Forgive us
for seeking to exploit
rather than heal
the needs and hopes of others;
teach us to work for healing and shalom.

We trust in your abundant mercies,
O God Almighty,
and ask that you guide us
to walk always in light and truth.
We offer to You our selves,
soul and body,
heart and will,
and ask that you sanctify
and enlighten us.
Burnish us to shine in your kingdom
and reflect your glory 
into the darkest corners of the world, we pray.

By the power of the Holy Spirit,
bless us and keep us
as we live and move in You,
and bless those we remember before You.

Amen.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Prayer 1439- For healing and thankfulness

May we see beauty everywhere, and give thanks.
Most Merciful One, enlighten our hearts and minds that we may know your peace and walk in wisdom.

Have compassion on our weakness and strengthen our resolve to walk in your ways. 
Accept our repentance from the depths of our hearts, and renew us in determination to serve You and each other in love. 
Deliver us from pride and enmity, fear and suspicion, we humbly pray.

May we rise and bless the Lord this day, this hour, this moment, for we are sheltered under the wings of the Lord of Life.
Bless the hands who have labored for all the comforts we enjoy, and help us to share our bounty with those in any need.

May serenity and healing pour over us as a balm to our hurts, that we may walk beside our Savior in strength and fortitude. 
Bless and keep all whose cares and concerns we place before You.

Amen.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Prayer 1438- Blazing with Christ's Light

A luminaria, a tradition in New Mexico.

Blaze forth your glory, O Redeemer, and from our waking to our resting accept our prayers and praises. May we come unto You, O God, in humility and hope, and be refreshed and restored by your faithfulness and grace. 

Lord Christ, you have known us and loved us from our first breath, in spite of our wandering ways.
Save us from presumption and pride; guide us to be humble and compassionate disciples of Jesus, your Son, Love Made Flesh.
Purify and sanctify our hearts that we may be a worthy habitation for you, bearing your peace into the world with joy. 

Through the power of your Holy Spirit set our spirits ablaze with your wisdom, and bless and keep those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Prayer 1437- For Innocent Faith

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."-- Matthew 18:3


Lord Jesus, abide with us this day, and open our hearts to proclaim your grace as we bless and magnify your Holy Name. Let the whole round earth declare your glory, and all creation join in hymns of praise. 

Draw us within the enclosure of your mercy, O Lover of Souls, and in the name of your Beloved Son preserve us and keep us. 
Guide us through your gospel to persevere in faithfulness and hope, that we may testify to your Love throughout the world. 
In your great mercy forgive us from all our sins, and set our feet securely in pathways of peace and forbearance. 

You are the Life and Truth to all who live, O God, and the hope of all who seek You. Press the kiss of your blessing, O Spirit of Healing, upon all who call upon You.

Amen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Prayer, day 1436- Sing out God's praise

My husband and two of my sponsors vest me according to the order of deacons.

Let all the round Earth proclaim thy glory, O Creator and Savior, who blesses us and keeps us day by day! May the slumbering land sing out thy praise, O God, and the trees clap their hands in joy. May we join with the throngs of heaven to give thanks and praise to our God. 

Holy One, we lift up our hearts as we gather in your courts, united at your altar in love and remembrance. May we rededicate ourselves to discipleship and service in the name of love and hope, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Consecrate our hearts and our hands to your service, O Most High, and direct our feet into your paths of mercy. 

Place your healing hand upon those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, Lord Christ, especially those whose needs are known to You.

Amen.
1069

Monday, December 26, 2016

Prayer 1435- On St. Stephen's Day

A window at St. Stephe's Episcopal Church in Ferguson, MO.

Almighty, Most Merciful God, bless and keep us this day in all our ways. 
Awaken us to the joy of serving each other with glad and generous hearts. 

May we welcome the newborn Prince of Peace by planting compassion within our hearts. 
Grant us the courage to fight for good and repudiate evils small and great; may we never remain silent in the face of wrong. 
Like your deacon Stephen, may we testify to your gospel with every fiber of our being. 

Holy One, we place before you all those whose peace and well-being has been shattered by violence and persecution. 
Keep watch with those who worry or weep or mourn, Holy Lord, and send your angels to minister to those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Prayer 1434: On Christmas Day

From last night's Christmas Eve service at Chirch of the Good Shepherd, Town and Country, MO.

Most Holy Savior, we bend the knee of our hearts before You, and place ourselves at your command in gratitude and joy.

May we make our hearts a worthy habitation for your love to live. 
May we, like Mary, bear you woth joy into the world for the light of the world. 
May we serve you with steadfast faith and hope for the sake of the world, revealing God's wisdom and truth.
May we be your hands and heart in all our ways, and do your work of reconciliation with joy.
May we turn aside from all that separates us, and remember that we are all children of God, called to lives of compassion. 

Blessed Jesus, place the hand of your blessing on those we now name.

Amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Prayer 1433: Christmas Eve

The Holy Family, (unknown icon).

Most Merciful God, let the whole earth and all that lives within it sing out your glory and praise! 
Holy One, envelop us through your Holy Spirit to join in the cloud of witnesses who worship You with joy. 

Let us remember tonight the birth of your Son, born as a poor refugee, and work for others to have a home. 
Let us be guided by you, Lord Christ, our Daystar, to follow the path of wisdom to your side. 
Let us seek to uphold each other in a common life bound by the love that Christ births in us, and calls us to embody.

Bend near to hear the whispered prayers of your people, O God, and place the mantle of your blessing on those we now name.

Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Prayer 1432: Reflecting the light of Christ

May the light of Christ shine in our hearts.

Come, Lord Jesus, and teach us to follow your path with humble joy and peace!

Help us to hear your call to transformation, that we may live by the values proclaimed in your gospel.
Help us stand with the poor and the oppressed, and bring healing and relief to all who suffer.
Help us learn to live together in justice and peace for all, and seek to work alongside each other for the common good.
Help us worship You by honoring You and your creation not only in our words but by our deeds.

Holy One, we are drawn to your light and mercy, help us to reflect that light and mercy as your disciples. United by our hope in God, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-Giver, we ask you send your Spirit upon all who call upon You.

Amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Prayer 1431- Welcoming the light of Christ

The Advent Wreath is fully lit!

Holy One, we lift our hearts to You in praise and thanksgiving. 

Envelop us in your light, O God, that your radiance may shine through us into the world. 

Make us bearers of your gospel with each step we take, and worthy disciples in your Way. 

Purify our hearts of all malice, enmity, or carelessness, and forgive us our offenses, as well as those done in our name. 

Open our spirits to receive your truth as we await the coming of your Son, O Almighty One. 

Bend near to those who call upon you, Merciful God, and accept our prayers.

Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Prayer, day 1430

The Good Shepherd.

O Shepherd of Our Souls, we praise you and bless you for your saving help as we rise to meet this day.

You are the gate to life eternal: let us dedicate ourselves to following You in all our steps.

Let us listen to You call our names, and remember that means being quiet so that we may hear You. May we allow ourselves to be guided and protected, to be led by You, our Good Shepherd. Let us come to You so that we do not fall into trouble by wandering off on our stubborn way. Let us obey your call to love even when that thwarts our wish for power or advantage over others. 

We know that we can be confident that You are always with us, so we need never fear. Reach out your hand to those who have lost sight of You, Lord Christ, and remind them of your nearness.

Hear now, O Lord, our petitions and thanksgivings for those we now name.


Amen.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Love Calls Us Home: Speaking to the Soul, December 20, 2016

Annunciation to the Shepherds- detail from the Isenheim altarpiece.

Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

The wind blew among the rocks, and the stars sparked and spun overhead. Midnight, and little was heard over the wind whistling among the rocks and shrubs and white clouds of sheep that dotted the landscape. The dim blue light that had lingered since the crimson sunset had long since subsided to indigo and then black. The three shepherds talked amongst themselves only to help stave off sleep, and boredom, and the whine of the wind.

Maybe that’s why they didn’t notice the wind suddenly stop. Suddenly, a star to the east flared brightly. The youngest shepherd saw it first, and grabbed his brother’s robe to get his attention and point his eyes toward the sight. There was just a few moments’ pause, and then-- it was if dawn had sliced the sky in two, and they were blinded as light poured down upon them, the stars vanishing instantly.

The eldest shepherd’s body seemed to hum and vibrate as a great wall of sound buffeted like a storm around them, vibrating like the string of the harp still slung over his back. The song that he heard was of indescribable beauty, and his knees buckled. A flickering, dancing figure, even brighter than the brightness that had burst down, appeared before his dazed eyes, and sang to them, telling them not to be afraid.

Not be afraid? Of course, they were terrified, for who can look upon God and live?

But the Messenger repeated again her reassurance. She told the shepherds then that she bore good news of the birth of a child in a town nearby, Bethlehem. The Messenger told them what they would see there without ever actually telling them to go, and each word from her mouth was like a trumpet blast, yet sweeter than honey.

Then an entire throne of angels descended, singing glory to the Holy One, who had granted the shepherds favor and honor indeed. And the music poured over them like honey from the comb, and their rampaging hearts raced with wonder.

Then it was over. The angels and the choir receded back into heaven, and the darkness descended again, darker than dark as their eyes were still dazzled. Slowly, the stars winked back to life again. Almost shyly, the wind resumed its soft susurration among the rocks. The sheep grazed on.

The angelic choir still echoed in their ears, there among the rocks.

Yet peace like a warm cloak settled over them, and they knew the direction of the town and the direction of the star and the direction the Messenger had given them.

And so, they were drawn toward Bethlehem, to see a king in a cattle-stall; a messiah in a manger. There they saw Love in human form come down at Christmas, and the world has never been the same.

May we all be drawn there, too. Drawn toward the Love that turned and slept in his mother’s arms. Love that offers us everything and demands from us everything in return. Love that stands against principalities and powers.

Love that moves among us still, and calls us home.


(This was first published on The Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul on December 20, 2016)

Prayer 1429: God holds our souls in life

May our prayers ascend like incense. The bell tower at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis.

O God, You hold our souls in life, and are ever with us: rejoicing, we approach you, and worship you in the temple of our hearts. 

Our Savior approaches, and calls us to new life: may we turn, hear, and give thanks! 

Draw us into deeper fellowship with you, Lord Jesus, and with each other, your Body in the world. 
May we as a community of faith offer ourselves as a living prayer before the world, and testify to your grace, O God. 

Drive far from us all division and fear, uniting us to You through bonds of hope and compassion. 

Holy One, we offer before You our joys and our cares: bless and comfort those for whom we now pray.

Amen.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Prayer 1428: Come, Light of God


It may have taken two days, but all three of us were ordained as transitional deacons this weekend. Thanks be to God!

Come, Light of God, and let your wisdom pour forth like a balm over us as we lift our hearts to You in praise and gratitude! 
Spring up, O Dayspring of Life, and fill us with your grace and mercy, that we may walk in the pathways of peace.
Establish within us a thirst for justice and discipleship, that we may serve You and each other with joy. 

Blessed Redeemer, may our prayers rise to you like incense, as we remember all those in trouble or anxiety. 
Give your holy angels charge over those who watch, weep, or worry, and shelter those who are in danger. 

Bring us to a deeper love of You, O God, and a deeper compassion and care of each other and your creation. 
Merciful One, rest your hand upon these beloveds for whom we pray.

Amen.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Prayer, day 1425: All That I Am

The bell tower of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis,
where Maria, Andrew, and I will be ordained to the transitional diaconate today.

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.

Your Spirit has 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,
Lord Christ,
and grant them rest.

Amen.
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Prayer 1424

Leaves caught in a net of ice.

As the Earth is called from her slumber, O God,
we hear your call to us: 
let us sing out our praise to the Most High!
Holy One, we have wandered from your paths
and abused each other
and your love:
forgive, Lord, forgive.
Your glory, O God,
fills the world in golden dawn,
in crimson close,
in velvet dark.
Astounded by your grace,
led by the star of your wisdom,
You lead us into a broad green land of plenty.
Give us strength to act for love's sake
in all things.
May we raise our spirits above
the clanging noise of fear-filled striving
and embrace your mercy and peace.
May we tend to those in any need,
remembering your abundant love that sustains us.
Comfort the weary and hurting,
the sick and the suffering,
Lord Christ,
and grant your peace to those we now name.

Amen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Prayer, day 1423


O God, awaken your people to the dawn of a new day, and accept their offered praises and petitions. 

May justice and peace kiss each other, and may we embody their wisdom in our hearts. May we act with mercy and gentleness, remembering how often You, O Lord, have reached out to us when we've strayed. May we dedicate ourselves to building a table of brotherhood where we find division. Let us commit ourselves to acting in love and caritas where we find enmity and bitterness. 

O Holy One, make us worthy servants in your household, and give us healing hands to do your work. Bless us and keep us as the apple of your eye, and send your blessing over those whose cares we bring before You.

Amen.

696

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Prayer 1422

Chapel of the Apostles, Sewanee School of Theology

Awaken, companions, for light arises in the East, and the long shades of night shatter before a song of praise to God! 

Come, Lord Jesus: extend your arms around us, and receive our prayers and praises. Bring us to such an awareness of your mercies, O God, that we mend our lives and our intentions, and turn to your light. Let our lives sing out a song of mercy and grace, and our feet walk in paths of integrity and healing. 

Holy One, fill us with your Spirit of Truth and Wisdom, and send your angels to tend to those who seek You. Resting upon the faithful love of God, we lay our cares and our blessings before You, Lord, as we pray.

Amen.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Prayer 1421



With joy we rise to praise You, O God, who is making the heavens and the Earth! 

With all that moves and breathes we give You thanks, even in these days of slumber as the Earth rests from her labors. Like an expectant mother, she will bring forth new life after her period of waiting, and we wait with her in gratitude. 

Teach us to honor and protect this Earth, we pray, and remember she supports our very lives. Teach us to honor and protect each other, our kin no matter how distant or different we imagine from us. 

Grant us the will to live into your call to us, to be makers of peace and bringers of comfort to those in any need. In all things, may we be rooted in your love and faithfulness, agents of grace in troubled times as well as good.

Place the mantle of your blessing, O God, on those whom we remember before You.

Amen.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Defying Expectations: Sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A

Preached at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Town and Country, Missouri,
December 11, 10 am

Readings:
Isaiah 35:1-10
Canticle 15
James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-11

Last week, I was unable to be here with you because I was in a car wreck last Saturday, and Pamela urged me to stay home. The wreck came as a total surprise. I had pulled up at a four-way stop, and two cars perpendicular to me pulled up at the same time just a second later. So, knowing that four-way stops are always trouble, I waved the other two cars through. All the stops but mine were then empty, which is just how I like my four-way stops—I don’t know about you. Imagine my shock, then, when as I was in the middle of the intersection I heard a huge bang and then had something white loom up in front of my eyes and the next thing I know I was spinning. And it was some GOOD, thrilling spinning, let me tell you. People pay hundreds of dollars at Disney World for such spinning.

I entered that intersection expecting to get through it and go on my merry way. It is an understatement to say that I most certainly and without a doubt did NOT get what I expected.

There are many people in our readings today who also did not get what they expected. The vision Isaiah gives us this week shows a desert blooming, the weak being strengthened, the disabled made whole, waters gushing forth in the driest of places.
This will be the vision that greets the eyes of the faithful ones, the followers of the Way of God. Instead of desolation, they will see fertility and abundance and beauty. They will see a land of promise. And they will rejoice, and all will live together in wholeness as a community at peace.

It’s the same vision of healing and restoration that Jesus uses to define and describe his ministry in our gospel: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” 

And Jesus comes by this radical vision of real peace and wholeness honestly. It was given to him by his Father in Heaven. It was proclaimed by his Mother here on Earth in her brave hymn of praise and rebellion known as the Magnificat, which has been prayed and sung and whispered throughout the ages. 

Biblical scholar and Anglican bishop N. T. Wright calls the Magnificat
the gospel before the gospel,
a fierce bright shout of triumph
thirty weeks before Bethlehem,
thirty years before Calvary and Easter.” 

Mary’s vision and Jesus’s vision align, and that’s no accident. It’s a reminder of what the gospel really means and what it tells us about living into God’s vision for us.

It’s a gospel which has always confounded any who try to twist it based on their own expectations. Last week we saw John proclaiming the coming of the Lord. So much anticipation was imbedded in that gospel, which is of course so perfect for Advent. When indeed Jesus did appear, Jesus was not exactly what John had been expecting. 

Isn’t that so often the case? We dream about something wonderful happening in our lives, and then reality ends up being still so random. Not worse, but different than our expectations. John had been expecting Messiah to be obvious to him. He expected Messiah to establish a certain way of justice that would reorder society the way John thought it should be.

And that’s not what he got. Instead, like Charlie Brown trick-or-treating and only getting rocks, in Matthew 4:12, John was arrested. The prophet rots in jail for seven chapters, and now, in chapter 11, he is forced to send some of his followers to attempt to ascertain whether Jesus is indeed the Messiah. 

Sitting in his jail cell, John has doubts. To find the source of his disquiet, simply look at his words of prophecy. He has been foretelling doom, and judgment, and punishment. This is not the Messiah John has been expecting. John was expecting someone who would emphasize repentance more, even though Jesus certainly did plenty of that.
John was expecting vengeance!
John was expecting a leader who would be a strong man.
John was expecting some retribution at broods of vipers!

Many people, even today, especially today, expect to see that kind of God and that kind of leadership operating in the world right now. The problem with having a leader or God who is a “strong man” is that the only way he becomes a “strong man” is by taking away agency from everyone else and gathering all the power to himself and maybe his buddies. 

Jesus IS a strong man- make no mistake. As God incarnate, he COULD treat us as infants and take care of everything. But Jesus’s strength as God, clothed in humanity, is rooted in love, not fear. Jesus’s message is about healing us, strengthening us, empowering us for the work he is going to send US into the world to do in his name. 

Jesus didn’t come to patronize us or treat us as infants, but to lead us back into the full vision of humanity that was planted in us by God in creation: a vision of wholeness, integrity, justice, and peace that our Jewish brethren sum up in one small word: “shalom.” And Jesus shows us who he is by what he does in the name of mercy and healing, not by what he says in condemnation or by threats.

So John sends some of his followers to ask Jesus straight up: “Are you the One we have been waiting for, or is there another?” There is a little bit of a forlorn quality in the question. John seems to be wondering, “Have I been wasting my time? Have I been wrong about what my role is?”

Notice how Jesus answers John here, too. Jesus is NOT about Jesus. Jesus does not say, “Yes, I am he! I have healed the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf! I have raised the dead! I have brought hope to the poor!” Jesus lets the actions speak for themselves. He emphasizes the healing, not the credit that is due. He puts the focus on the kingdom, healed and established on foundations of wholeness, rather than his status. He echoes the prophecies we heard in our section of Isaiah today. He fulfills the promises his mother shouted out with defiant joy in her canticle today.

So what we see here is that John has not gotten the Messiah he wanted or expected. And yet, here is his cousin, Jesus, and he is NOT some warrior king. He is not about restoring the former glory of Israel by having it rise to new military or political or economic power.

What Jesus IS about is moving among those who have been outcast. This God, we see, emphasizes mercy over retribution, in contrast to the God that many people today still seem to expect—a God of retribution and smiting, a sender of earthquakes and famines to punish millions.

Jesus reminds us that his ministry will surprise us, and will lead us in ways we did not expect and heal us in ways we may not even deserve. “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me” he says. Blessed are those who embrace and follow Jesus for who Jesus is, radical enough for the best of us, instead of trying to make Jesus fit their preconceived notions of who Messiah will be. 


John asks who Jesus is. Now in the second half of our reading Jesus asks the crowds if they understand who John is. A “reed shaken in the wind” would have been someone who sought to appeal to popular opinion, who would have said what was pleasing to the crowd. That certainly wasn’t John—and in the end, it isn’t Jesus, either, then or now. Was John a smoothly groomed, tanned, manicured huckster in a bespoke suit, preaching an easy message in some plush setting? Not even close. But even John lost sight of the fact that the inbreaking of God’s kingdom into the world would completely upend all the power structures he despised-- by NOT playing into them and the inherent violence that is the foundation of human systems of empire and domination.

John is a prophet—but more than a prophet. He is the last great prophet of the old age, who is pointing to the new age. He is the transition between the Old Testament, which depended upon prophets to explain the ways of God, and the New Testament, which has the Messiah, who is a prophet and God incarnate. Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven—among those who have faith in Jesus as the Christ—are greater than John at this moment, not because John is doubting, but because John is trying to impose his own expectation upon Jesus. Jesus’s ministry is making John uncomfortable, because it is not what he expected.


Advent kind of does the same number on us. We are anticipating Christmas, with a cute chubby baby lying in a manger, and instead we get this fully grown holy man speaking riddles and challenges as well as hope. 

We can see one thing, though. Jesus is his MOTHER’S son, as well as the Son of God. “My soul proclaims the GREATNESS of the Lord, and my spirit REJOICES in God my Savior!” she cries out. “God has lifted up the lowly, starting with me, and has placed his strong arm before me!” she sings. And Jesus himself, in his words and actions, proclaims the very same thing.

Jesus was NOT the one that John was expecting. And John certainly wasn’t the only one confounded. Jesus often confounded those who encountered him—and still does, today more than ever! Look around at all the different gospel visions we see proclaimed today in the name of Christ! 

We don’t own Jesus—Jesus owns us.

That’s why we identify ourselves through his title as Christ. Now the next question to logically proceed is this: Who, then are we, and what are we to do?

Nothing less than carry Jesus and his gospel of healing, mercy, and fierce compassion into the world. We, like Mary, are called to be Christ-bearers, to be disciples, not just fans. We are called to a way of life that saves us right now, not in some distant future, through our own lives bearing testimony to the JOY that is God’s kingdom. As Caryll Houselander reminds us in her book of devotions to Mary called The Reed of God, Mary is not just human, she is humanity. She is us. Houselander writes, “The one thing she did and does is the one thing that we all have to do, namely to bear Christ into the world. Christ must be born from every soul, formed in every life.”

And that means making Jesus’s path our own, and remembering that he seeks to live within us right now. As Christians, we are called to be the body of Christ and to literally embody Christ. The operating instructions are right before us: in this season of darkness, our business is to shine that light of healing, of compassion, of love even in the face of hate, into the world.

Given that this third Sunday in Advent is called “Gaudete” or “Joy” Sunday, what could be more joyful than to be reminded that God generously defies our expectations again and again? Throughout scripture God calls us to turn away from systems of behavior based on scarcity and anxiety. The reading from Isaiah reminds us that God does not intend for us to live that way, nor to try to impose that anxiety and fear upon others. If we see the face of God in each and every fellow being, how can we hope that others will “lose” so that we will “win?” That kind of losing and winning denies the inherent goodness and dignity of EVERY human being that we repeated a couple of weeks ago at the baptism we celebrated together. 

If it sounds crazy to hope for such a world, that’s because maybe it is. That’s why our presiding bishop calls us “crazy Christians.” We are called not to give in to being ground down by the expectations and limitations of this world, but to work to establish the kingdom of heaven on Earth. And that involves defying expectations and challenging injustice and impoverishments of all kinds in the name of mercy and the Love who came and is coming into the world as Jesus Christ our Savior.

Amen.

Prayer 1420: the Third Sunday in Advent

Mother and Child.

Holy One, shine the light of your countenance upon us,
and lift us up in righteousness and strength.
Let our spirits rejoice in God,
our souls proclaim God's goodness and favor:
for indeed, we have been blessed!

There is no Rock like our God:
Christ is our sure foundation,
the cornerstone of our lives.
You have shown the strength
of your protection over us:
You alone are God our Savior.

Extend your favor upon the lowly
and humble in heart, O God:
let us boast only of your love and faithfulness.
Fill those who seek You,
soothe the suffering,
comfort the afflicted, O Holy One:
You are our strength and our succor.

Gather our prayers to You,
O Lover of Souls,
and tend to those who call upon You.

Amen.
692

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Prayer, day 1419


O God, we give thanks to be able to come before You, O Source of all blessing, for You have claimed and redeemed us. 

All-Merciful One: we place ourselves within your hands today. Guide us into the ways of wisdom, lovingkindness, and grace. 


All-Loving One, let us place each other in our hearts today. Let us seek to convert our hearts with generosity and empathy, tenderly cherishing those around us. 


All-Beneficent One: help us align our wills within your call to us today. Guide us into true discipleship and service in openness to your reign in our hearts.


Most Holy God, accept our prayers and sacrifices, and bless and consecrate us, renewing our spiritual strength. Grant, we pray, your tenderness and favor to those we now name.


Amen.
661

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.

Amen.

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.


Amen.
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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.

Amen.

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.

Amen.

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. 


Amen.

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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

deliberately
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.

Amen.

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.

Amen.

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