Sunday, March 31, 2019

Prayer 2254: Fourth Sunday in Lent


On the Prodigal Son

Most Merciful God,
we are blessed this day to gather around your altar,
led here by your limitless love.

We have wasted the blessings you have given us,
and rejected your love:
forgive us our sins, we humbly pray.

We hear your call to repentance, O Lord,
and no matter how far we have strayed,
we turn and find You right behind us,
leading us the rest of the way home.

You are the God who seeks out the lost,
and rejoices when they are found
in the generous arms of your grace and mercy.

As we have been reconciled by your grace,
so let us lay down the burden of our resentments,
and live out your grace in the lives of each other,
honoring your image in each face we see.

Grant your comfort, O Holy One,
to all who suffer any grief or trouble,
especially those whom we now name.

Amen.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Half The Way Home: Sermon for Lent 4 C

There’s a commercial on TV right now for an air and fabric freshener. It talks about being “nose-blind” to smells that pervade one’s environment. One of the versions of this commercial that I resonate with, as a parent of young adults who played sports, is the one where the teenaged son and his friend are playing video games in his room, completely unperturbed. But when the mom opens the door, every sing surface is draped in gym socks. Little Joey could not longer smell the stench—until his mom puts a bottle of the odor remover in his hand, and suddenly—poof!—the room is transformed back into its regular d├ęcor.

I was thinking of that commercial as I pondered our gospel reading today which contains the parable of the prodigal son. Sometimes, stories are so familiar that we no longer hear them when they appear in front of us. The words rattle by, but rather than listening deeply, we have a narrator’s voice in our heads speaking over the story line, and we fail to hear the true details of the story.

For instance, I wonder if everyone knows what the word “prodigal” means? When I taught in the parochial school for my first two years of teaching, the word appeared on my students’ vocabulary list in English class once, and most of my kids surprised me by saying that “prodigal” meant “lost.” If you only encountered that word in the title of this parable, that would be a reasonable assumption. But it is also incorrect. Someone who is “prodigal” is actually someone who is wasteful or extravagant with their money.

Most of my students admitted that the only time they had ever heard the word was in the context of this parable. And so we pulled the Bibles down from the tippy top of the shelf where they were stored in my room, blew off the inch-thick coating of dust on them, and cracked them open to where this story appears in Luke’s gospel. The first surprise my students got is that this parable comes hot on the heels of two other, shorter parables—and if you look, you will see that they are omitted in our gospel reading today, as well. But I think it’s helpful to hear those, too, so here they are.

Right after the grumbling about Jesus welcoming sinners and eating with them, we get not one but THREE parables. The first two are these: 

 4‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.

8 ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

THEN Jesus finishes up with the story of the Prodigal Son. The eliminated stories make very clear that all three parables are about rejoicing when the lost is found—for relationships that are restored. The application for our behavior then also has to do with rejoicing over the one who has repented instead of judging them and refusing to forgiven for their mistakes. These stories are about accepting repentance freely, rather than demanding punishment from those who have done wrong so that they “earn” forgiveness. The younger son has demanded the portion of his inheritance that would have gone to him—when his father died. The outrageous implication here is that he is not willing to wait and work and inherit, but in a way is wishing his father dead right now, because the only way someone got their inheritance was upon the death of their father. 

Yet the father’s reaction is truly surprising: he goes along with this outrageous proposal, even though this request is an affront of the highest order and a violation of all duty and respect a son owed his father, at the very least. There are certainly times when parents acquiesce to a self-destructive course our children take (although MINE certainly never gently acquiesced to anything!) hoping that it will turn out all right and that perhaps they learn something without too much damage being done.

Of course the son wastes all his money, and in a bit of justice, a famine strikes the land he is in at that very moment. At first, perhaps his pride prevents him from immediately returning home when the going gets rough. It’s more likely that he fully understood that in his selfishness, he had initiated a permanent break from his family. Our story says that he was so hungry he considered eating the pods the pigs had to eat. Jewish New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine points out that early listeners to Luke’s gospel in the 1st or 2nd centuries might have recognized a rabbinic saying on Leviticus that opined, “When Israelites are reduced to eating carob pods, they repent.”(1)

The power of a hungry belly is a powerful motivator, and it is at this time that the younger son remembers that Daddy still has money. So when he gets desperate enough, he is willing to overcome this objection, and concocts a pretty little speech filled with false humility to evade the consequences of his actions. He asks to be taken back as a hired servant—NOT as a slave—so that he would still be able to earn a wage. So he’s not completely humbling himself. He rehearses this speech to sound convincing.

But even before he has really approached the house, his father spots him, and in his joy runs and embraces and kisses his son. Notice that after this effusive display of joy and forgiveness, the son’s speech changes. Instead of trying to negotiate, he simply acknowledges and owns his very great fault against both heaven and his father (Levitical law and custom), and acknowledges that he doesn’t deserve the status of son any longer through his offenses. I am convinced that it is at this point that the younger son’s rehearsed, cynical speech becomes a genuine plea for forgiveness. No longer is he angling for a job. He is simply acknowledging that he is completely wrong.

This is the turning point of the entire story. Finally, the younger son accepts the love his father has given him all along, and appreciates his own unworthiness. The father loves his son even when he has abandoned his family, and the father loves him now that he turned toward home, no matter what he has done.

Dr. Levine brings up a short tale from rabbinical commentary that applies to exactly this moment in the story: “A king had a son who had gone astray from his father on a journey of a hundred days. His friends said to him, “Return to your father.” He said, “I cannot.” Then his father sent word, “Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to you.” So God says, “Return to me, and I will return to you.”(2)

Isn’t that beautiful?

But right on the heels of this beautiful moment, we have the resentment of the elder son, coming in grimy from his work to find a party for his no-account little brother going on. The elder son resents the fuss being made over someone whom he sees as being immoral and irresponsible without suffering any consequences. He resents that no one celebrates his work, but feels like his father and the revelers celebrate irresponsibility instead. The elder son expresses his resentment to his father, who again responds soothingly rather than in anger. The father reminds his elder son that, since the younger son has taken his part of the inheritance, everything he has left belongs to the elder son. All he asks is that the elder son to find it within him to rejoice that his little brother is at least back home, safe and sound.

The elder son only understands his little brother as being selfish and leaving him to do all the work around the place. And he resents the hell out of the celebration of one whom he thinks is unworthy and unrepentant. Yet, in his grousing, he too is just as ungrateful toward his father as his little brother was. So really, this parable could also be titled, “The Man Who Had Two Ungrateful Sons."  

So how does this parable speak to us today? Most of us probably identify with the older son, but we should first remember that we actually behave more like the younger son. How often do we demand what we want, impulsively seek to fulfill our own desires no matter what the cost to others, and fool ourselves into thinking that we can be happy solely by concentrating on our own happiness? How often do we try to mask our real motives in an attempt to manipulate to get what we want? Isaiah 53 has an image that might illuminate the mildest form of this tendency to headstrong self-absorption: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way…”

The point of this parable is grace and mercy. It is an insistent declaration that God is not a God who stands aloof from us, but loves us unceasingly and calls us to return, again and again, calls us to repent—to turn away from what separates us from God, and to turn away from what separates us from each other.

It also reminds us that we depend on God’s help always in living our very best life, in which we ourselves are called to love and care for those around us without questioning whether they are worthy. Judging worthiness is not our jobs. Loving and caring for people IS, as disciples of Jesus and pilgrims on his Way of Love. No matter who they are, or how different they are from us. We ourselves have been recipients of an abundant grace— forgiveness from God that rejoices each time we turn, but a forgiveness we have to realize can never be earned by us. No matter all our striving, or even conniving, as the rabbi’s story reminds us, our own determination to repent will only get us half the way home.

God is that parent who sees the dust from our feet rising from afar, and runs out to us and throws his arms around us in an extravagant embrace, even when we are only halfway home. Jesus reminds us that God never gives up on us, just like in that rabbinical story:

Come back home, my child.

I can’t, I’m too far away.

Then start the journey back, and I will come the rest of the way to you.

It is God’s grace that brushes aside all our attempts to believe we can talk our way into being restored. Even if we truly think we have done things in our lives that makes forgiveness impossible, God still comes for us and rejoices at our return. In response to complaints that Jesus sits with those who have been judged unworthy, Jesus insists that the justice of God is always grounded in grace and mercy. No matter what anyone has done, God’s love calls us back with generosity and extravagant forgiveness—and calls us to do likewise. Coming half the way home is more than enough. We just have to turn and begin.

Amen.


Preached at the 505 on March 30 at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Ellisville, MO.

Readings:
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Sources:
1) and 2)  Amy-Jill Levine, "What the Prodigal Son Story Doesn't Mean," August 25, 2014, at the Christian Century, https://www.christiancentury.org/article/2014-08/parable-and-its-baggage

Prayer, day 2253


Most Merciful God,
accept our humble offerings to You
of our life and love
as we make our prayer to You.
Forgive us our willful disregard for each other,
and restore us to communion and trust, we pray.
Give us grace
to allow love to heal our wounded relationships,
that we may be one body,
made in your image.
Make us holy, a priestly people
serving You and each other in love, O God,
and bring us into unity with all creation.
Place your hand of blessing
over all who ache, or mourn,
or seek a way through difficulties.
Spirit of Light and Truth, bless us,
and pour out your balm of blessing
over those we remember before You.

Amen.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Prayer, day 2252


Almighty God,
who sends your Spirit to shade and shield us,
we praise you for watching over us through the night.
Fill our hands and hearts with your strength today.
Rich in counsel,
abundant in grace,
O Holy Trinity:
draw us into your dance of love
and sing your joy into our souls.

We repent, O Lord, of our failures of heart;
for our neglect of walking in charity and faith with each other;
for our acquiescence in the face of exploitation.
Wrap us within the folds of your mercy, Blessed Savior,
and strengthen our will to love,
that we may walk in kindness and empathy with each other.

We ask you, Beloved Jesus,
to enter our brokenness
and make our own wounds
a source of compassion, welcome, and mercy for others.
Let us dedicate ourselves
to be healers and companions of truth;
restorers of beauty, contentment, and comfort
to all who suffer any distress.

We pray especially this day
for these concerns we lift before You, Lord:
in your mercy,
press the kiss of your blessing upon your beloveds.

Amen.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Prayer, day 2251


Almighty God,
Ruler of the Universe,
we come before You in gratitude for our many blessings,
redeemed by love and mercy.

Holy One, forgive us our sins,
and give us courage
to turn away from evil, fear, hatred, and discord,
to serve your will in all things.

Give us wisdom to turn to You, Lord Christ,
when we falter,
and remember You are with us always,
living and true,
calling to us in love.

Spirit of Truth, dwell within us,
that we may serve the One
who gave his life as ransom for all.

Precious Savior,
hold us in the hollow of your hand,
and bless and keep those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Prayer 2250


Beloved Creator,
by your love all things come into being,
and by your compassion and watchfulness they are sustained:
we give you thanks and honor,
and open our hearts to your guidance.

For You have ennobled us to be your disciples, Lord Christ,
and call us to enact your law in our lives:
to work for justice for the oppressed,
to reject the ways of contempt and of evil,
to love without limit as you love us.

May we be a blessing for the world,
and see your handiwork in every atom, O God.

Spirit of Wisdom,
sing through the chambers of our hearts
and lead us into compassion and truth, we pray.
Savior Divine, place your hand of healing and comfort
upon all who call upon you,
and bless and keep those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Prayer, day 2249


Blessed Savior,
we thank You for bringing us to the shores of this day:
may we ever serve your kingdom.
All Creation sings a waking tune,
and bids us worship the One
who made us for love and service:
come, let us pray and give thanks. 

May we join in with the melody of hope and harmony
that springs up from the earth,
and open ourselves to be forgiven and renewed.
Grant us wisdom and understanding, O God,
that we may hear your gospel message
of love, mercy, and compassion for all living things. 

We repent of the wrongs we have done
or that we have not challenged:
have mercy, and restore our determination to good.
Gentle our hearts and thoughts, Lord Christ,
that we may seek to build each other up
and work to heal the world. 

May the warmth of Love Unending
quicken our wakening hearts, O Holy One,
and a Spirit of Peace dwell within us.

Amen.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Prayer, day 2248: The Annunciation of Our Lord


Almighty God, we sing your glory,
joining the joyful song of creation
as our souls sing out your greatness!
How beautiful upon the treetops
is the rising light of morning:
O God, you bless us beyond measure with beauty
and our hearts kneel before you in praise!

Give us your favor, O Redeemer,
in leading us to consent to your will in our lives,
that we may join our hands in unity
in the pursuit of justice and peace,
pulling down oppression from its throne,
filling the hungry with good things from the bounty we have.

Strengthen us to bear you into the world, Blessed Jesus,
as a mother carries her child
close to her heart.

Holy One, place the protection
of your mighty arm and heart
over us this day,
and guide us in paths of gentleness and compassion.
Stretch out the awning of your mercy, Beloved Savior,
over all who rest in your care.

Amen.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Wholly Beloved, Holy Calling: Sermon for 3 Lent C



One of my favorite cartoons is one that’s been around for years—you’ve probably seen a version of it. It’s an extension of the idea in that inspirational poem, “Footprints.” It shows God talking with a person with tear-stained cheeks, looking back on the person’s life as if their journey through life has left behind a series of impressions in the sand.

God looks back at an early part of the person’s life journey and points: “My beloved child—I am always with you. See those two sets of footprints? That’s where you and I walked side-by-side.” 

“Yes, God,” says the human, “but what about over there, where there’s only one set of footprints?” 

God answers, “My child, there’s only one set of footprints there, because that’s where I carried you.” 

And the human in the cartoon visibly brightens. Nice, right? But some of you may not have seen the third panel of the cartoon. In the third panel, God continues, “And that deep pair of grooves over there? THAT’s where I dragged you, my child, kicking and screaming.”



Today’s reading from our Hebrew scriptures jumps us from Genesis last week to Exodus—and specifically, to God’s call to Moses from the burning bush. We are hearing this reading today because Lent is often the part of the year where we are encouraged to examine the “kicking and screaming” part of our lives with God, where we are reminded that sometimes we’ve fallen, and we can’t get up, like in those Life Alert commercials. However, in our Christian Lenten understanding, we don’t depend on Life Alert but—thank be to God—on God’s grace, on God never ever giving up on us.

Just like in that cartoon, Moses doesn’t respond with cooperation when God calls to him. There’s more than a little of the “kicking and screaming” resistance, but Moses is no dummy. Rather than outright refusal to heed God’s call, Moses engages in a debate with God, first requiring God to establish God’s bona fides. That’s when God gives Moses God’s actual name—which is a sign of relationship. As we hear repeatedly in scripture, to be called by name is to be known.

This bears repeating, because it seems so obvious: being able to know and use someone’s name implies a relationship. This same situation will later be cited in Isaiah 52:6: “Therefore my people will know my name;
 therefore in that day they will know
 that it is I who foretold it.
 Yes, it is I.” Psalm 91, which we read a few weeks ago also states: “Those who love me, I will deliver;
 I will protect those who know my name.” Naming implies intimacy and the ability to call on someone for help.


Although there have been several names used for God, up to this point in the Torah, the answer Moses receives is “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” which is translated as “I am who I am” as well as “I will be who I will be”—in other words, God exists outside the realm of time and human experience, and past, present, and future are all the same to God. And yet God is hearing the groans of the Israelites and is responding to them. That can be comforting—God has remained faithful to God’s people, even as they have forgotten all about God, lowering their sights from heaven to the brutal task of survival. God has been, and will be, with God’s people always.

God also refers to Godself as “YHVH” which was translated as “The LORD” in the Torah, since the name of God was so holy that it was not to be uttered, in case it was misused. That’s why sometimes, when you see God written about by Jews to this day, you sometimes see it written “G-d” which omits the vowels (as Hebrew does). In Hebrew, God’s name is so holy that the term Hashem is often used in its place. Hashem means, simply, “The Name.” Names are considered to be that powerful. Thus the LORD is the name of God to be used forever.

Notice that God calls Moses by name from the very first. Then, once God establishes a relationship with Moses by giving Moses God’s very name, the story we hear today ends. I think that’s unfortunate, because what we don’t hear is Moses’s resistance to God’s call shifting from asking God's name to stating that he is not cut out for the job—that he lacks the appropriate gifts. But I want to invite you into that part of the story, too.

In the 4th chapter of Exodus, Moses has tried to evade God’s call with a number of objections, and very reasonable ones, too, centering around the idea of “Nobody is going to believe that God has talked to me,” which I think we can all relate to, as well. God then shows Moses a series of miraculous signs that will come in useful later when Moses is talking with Pharaoh. But then Moses pulls out his trump card: “Hey God,” he says, “you know I am not an eloquent speaker and this gig you are outlining requires a LOT of talking. So please send someone else.” And at this point, God gets exasperated at Moses’s shilly-shallying and ducking and weaving, and overcomes that objection too, by promises that Moses’s brother Aaron will help out with the talking thing.

Responding to God’s call is one of the hardest things for us to do, and yet one thing we know is that God has pursued relationship with creation from the very beginning, and it has been done through God calling over and over again. The great Biblical scholar Walter Brueggeman organized his commentary on Genesis around the idea of four vital calls: God calls creation into being, and creation responds in a variety of ways. Next, God calls Abram, as we heard last week, and Abram and Sarai embrace the call of God and enters into covenant, faithful to God’s promises that Abram's descendants will become a great family. God calls Jacob, but that call causes conflict in Jacob’s family, as the younger son is privileged over the elder. Then in the story of Joseph, we are reminded that the purposes of God’s call are often hidden and elusive at first.(1) Now in Exodus, the descendants of Jacob have grown from being a family to being a community—a nation.(2) Yet they are a nation under oppression, and it can only be that in freedom that Israel can answer God’s call affirmatively and freely, rather than under duress. That’s the part that Moses will play. 

God calls Moses to be God’s prophet and spokesman, God’s human agent in the work of liberation. Moses goes from being shepherd for his father-in-law to being called to be the shepherd for his people in their flight from bondage and oppression. And now we hear the story of God’s call to Moses, and I want to be completely honest with you. It is Moses’s last response that I find the most relatable in this story. Burning bushes I have never seen. But feelings of doubt and unworthiness when being called by God? Oh yes—that one I know, six different ways from Sunday. 

During the years when I resisted the full surrender to God’s call in my life, the biggest reason why was my own feelings of unworthiness to fulfill that call. Even after finally giving in and making the leap to retire from teaching and attend seminary, I was buffeted often by feelings of being in over my head, and strong case of “imposter syndrome.”

Then, as I was preparing to go before the several committees who had to approve my ordination, I was specifically, and frustratingly, warned AWAY from using call language, which then makes it awfully hard to answer the question of why anyone would actually want to take on the ordained life. And the reason why I was told that I should NOT insist that I was called by God to be a priest was that the committee members might feel like their opinion then didn’t matter.

But the call of Moses makes exactly that point in a way, doesn’t it? God calls who God calls, and in a way, what we think about it is NOT the point. Just like Moses, many of us have had a hard time recognizing the voice in our life calling us to discipleship as being God’s voice. And then, once we do, we have a hard time believing that we are up to the task, or that the task is even achievable. If we’re honest, many of us are have also struggled to recognize God’s voice and respond to God’s call. 

But just like in that cartoon,
Sometimes we let God walk beside us.
Sometimes God has to carry us.
Sometimes God drags us back kicking and screaming from sin and foolishness into discipleship.

But one thing we should never doubt is that we are worthy of God’s love and regard, and that we are worthy to try to be not just fans of God but children of God, disciples of God. God doesn’t call the perfect, the saying goes—God helps perfect the called.

What’s the big picture? God will call whomever God pleases, even if that choice seems to make no sense. God’s great prophet Moses had no qualifications to speak for God, and didn’t really want to give himself over to God—a very understandable reaction! God can be so… disruptive!

-- and yet, God has chosen, and won’t be talked out of it.

Moses has never been at home anywhere, so who better to argue for a dispossessed people? He has been an adopted son of a princess, and now he’s a scruffy shepherd. It is exactly those experiences that make him the perfect intermediary in this case. God has also revealed the name of God, which shows that God is committed to the people, and continuously opens the door for us to not just approach God but to depend upon God to care for us.

The story of Moses we hear today is the story of a call, and as faithful people we are called too- called to own our heritage of being made in the image of God—of being children of God. Children of God-- and I say that without my fingers crossed behind my back-- called to embody God’s essential goodness in the world-- to embody the love of God as has been and is being revealed in Christ Jesus. And when we fall short, we are called to own our sins, to repent, to turn and try again.

As our gospel today reminds us, Jesus makes it clear that, when we fail to live up to our call as children of God, we can receive God’s mercy and grace rather than God’s judgment, so that we can respond to the call to repent—to make an adjustment, maybe a big one or maybe just a small one—but often, just a small change is enough.

That’s why Lent is such a beautiful thing. It should never be seen as a time to beat ourselves up, or dwell on our own unworthiness, which then can become a convenient excuse for not trying in the first place. Rather, Lent calls us to acknowledge our sins and resistances to living out our calling, to own them and examine them, and then to turn anew, to hear the call of God for us to turn aside, to remember that the ground on which we stand is holy ground.


Our lives are the holy ground in which we meet God. And if we stop our scurrying around and our constant need for distraction, we just might hear God calling us, as God’s beloveds, to help make God’s presence in the world just a little more visible in what we say and what we do.

Listen! The beauty of Lent is that it reminds us of grace and calls us to slow down and listen. To hear that God is calling. Because make no mistake. God IS calling each and every one of us, and all of us as a community of faith, to embody the same grace that upholds us out into the darkness of the world. Let’s turn, and see that light flaring where we don’t expect it.

Let’s turn aside, listen, and say yes. Yes, because we ARE worthy. Yes, because we are upheld by grace. Yes, because we are empowered by that grace to act in the world in the name of liberation and salvation. Walking side by side with our Savior and Redeemer.

Amen.

Readings:
Exodus 3:1-15
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9


Links/References:
1) Walter Brueggemann, Genesis:Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, pp. 1-5
2) Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Exodus: The Book of Redemption (Covenant and Conversation 2), pp. 1-6

Prayer 2247: Third Sunday of Lent C


Almighty One,
we gather before You
in reverence and humility,
our hearts seeking your light.

May we turn aside from our busyness
and see the flame of your presence before us,
on the holy ground of our lives.

May we re-member and embody
your Name of Love
as your witnesses,
and work for the liberation and care of your creation.

For You are the One who called creation into being;
who called Abram to embrace your covenant;
who called Jacob despite his youth;
who called Joseph even though the way seemed dark.

May we hear your loving entreaty to us
and turn again to your Way of Love,
trailing compassion and healing behind us.

Blessed One, strengthen us in mercy and justice,
and grant your comfort to those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Prayer 2246


O God of the sustaining wave,
who fills our spirits with hope
as a sail fills with wind,
send us where You will,
and grant us courage to raise our anchor
and set our course by the light of Christ.

In the rising tide of dawn
 lift us over the shoals of doubt, O Savior,
running each wave with a surging joy,
the rigging singing out your praises,
O Lord of all hopefulness.

As we are guided by your grace and truth,
O Spirit of the Eternal One,
move over the deep waters of our hearts,
that we may be a blessing in the world this day
and grant your peace to those we hold close
in joy or in need, as we pray.

Amen.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Prayer 2245


Creating God,
who is making the heavens and the earth,
create within us a heart for your service
and hallow the prayers we offer before You.

Give us wisdom to seek truth, O Spirit of Hope,
and turn us away from sin and exploitation
to see the face of Jesus all around us.

Help us to eat our fill
of the honeyed loaves of your gospel, O Christ,
and drink deep of the cup of compassion,
that we may overturn the tables of enmity,
and scatter the bread of resentment and hatred
that has been placed before us by hollow tyrants.

Bear with us, O Merciful One,
and place your hand of blessing
over all for whom we pray.

Amen.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Prayer, day 2244


God of Glory, God of Grace,
You envelop us in arms of mercy:
We lift our hearts to you,
filled with thankfulness and praise.

Anoint us
with the power of the Holy Spirit
that we may walk in your light today,
turning aside from sin and selfish pride.

Grant us the wisdom to obey your commandments,
that we may live fully into our new life in Christ.
Lord, draw your protection over those we now name.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Prayer, day 2243


(Inspired by Psalm 131)
O God, we come before You, 
humble in heart, 
rejoicing in your manifold mercies. 
Let us not puff ourselves up with pride, 
for we seek to be worthy of your Name. 

Let us still our souls to rest upon You, 
as a small child turns into the arms of her mother, 
resting upon her breast. 

Let us fasten upon this simple Truth: 
that You are our God, 
the root of all we are and all we do. 
Let us center our determination 
upon honoring your Word in our lives, 
for we depend solely upon You 
for wisdom and truth. 

Knit us together in love and kinship, 
united in purpose to serve You 
through each other. 
Refresh the souls of the weary, Lord Christ, 
and give your peace to those we now name.

Amen.