Friday, July 31, 2015

Prayer 920- Day Five at Camp Phoenix

Friday morning just after sunrise at Camp Phoenix.

Almighty God, we rise from our beds to bow before You in worship and thanksgiving: may we abide with you today. May we seek first of all the kingdom of God and God's righteousness, and work together to God's glory. May we give thanks for the saints in our lives, and honor them and follow their example. May we seek to become saints in the life of the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit of Truth. With arms around each other, may we sing out your praises, Lord Christ, and make ourselves a sanctuary for You. Heavenly One, we remember your mercies without end, and ask your blessing upon those we now name.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Prayer 919- Day Four at Camp Phoenix

A dragonfly on the steps of Hickory Lodge at Camp Phoenix.

Heavenly One, Lover of Our Souls, guide us in wisdom through this glorious day that You have made. May the light of your gospel shine from us with renewed brightness, that our joy and love may draw others to you. May we love each other and care for each other as Christ loves us, and enfolds us within his mercy. May the grace of God rest upon us and uplift us as on eagles' wings, and may we be set upon the paths of peace and hope. Protect us as we play together, work together, and pray together. Bend near, Spirit of the Living God and breathe out the peace of God upon those we now name.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Prayer 918- Day Three at Camp Phoenix

Most Merciful God, Blessed Jesus, Spirit of Truth: we praise You for bringing us in love and joy to the glory of the morning. Like your servant Martin Luther King, lead us to the mountaintop of your truth to see the broad plain of justice and peace before us. Make us into a community of saints who live and work and sing within the beauty of the gospel. Knit us together in compassion and perseverance, that we may embody the love of Christ. Watch over all our loved ones, and keep them in the cool shade of the shadow of your wings, O God. We ask especially that you send your Spirit of healing and tranquility to rest upon those we now name.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Prayer 917- Day Two at Camp Phoenix

We added copper sulphite to the campfire last night!

Most merciful God, You have brought us into your light and truth, and called us to gather in your name. Like our brother St. Francis, may we walk gently upon the earth, and be instruments of your peace to all creation. May we cast your gospel far and wide like a sower scattering seeds, and build up your faithful people in love. May we be one with the poor and oppressed, and take our place alongside those in need. Blessed Jesus, place the hand of your blessing upon us in all our endeavors, and especially on those we now name.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Prayer 916- Day One at Camp Phoenix

I will be spending the week at Camp Phoenix, the summer camp for the Diocese of Missouri. Here, the older kids take part in our spiritual program.

Almighty God, Holy One: You have graciously brought us in peace to this new day, and awakened us to the glory of your morning. Knit us together into a company of saints and witnesses, that we may joyfully sing out your truth and love. Help us to be led by the example of those who have gone before us in the faith of Jesus Christ. Help us to be joyful and reverent at play in your glorious creation; Help us to gentle and patient with each other when tired. Abide with us as we work and play and pray, as we sing our praises to You, O Precious Lord. Grant your blessing upon those we now name.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Prayer 915- Departure Day to Camp Phoenix 2015

The first sunset at Camp Phoenix 2015.

Most Merciful God, may we join hands around your altar to day, and rejoice for your abounding grace. Let our love be true, and steadfast, and patient for one another and for You, O God our Redeemer. Let us open our hearts to see the beauty around us, that we may live peaceably and walk gently upon the earth. Let us pluck out our own anger and envy, repenting of our sins, and seek to overcome evil by planting love in our hearts. Let us pray for those who hurt us, and seek to build up the spirits of others in all we do. May our prayers center us in the love of God, and give us strength, hope, and charity in all our ways and all our days. Holy One, bless and keep us this day, and send out your peace like a caress upon those we now name.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Prayer 914

Sing out our praises to the Lord, whose mercy and lovingkindness follow us all the days of our lives. Holy One, we bow before You in awe and wonder, proclaiming your truth and wisdom. With thankful hearts we turn to You, the source of all goodness and author of our salvation. Let us turn from paths that lead us into evil, hatred, or jealousy, and embrace each other as You call us to do. Send your angels, O God, to bend near to those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit. Encourage and enliven those whose heart or faith is faltering, we pray, and dry the tear of those who mourn. Wrapped in your embrace, Lord Christ, we offer our prayers for those we now name.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Prayer, day 912

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.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Prayer 911

Holy Holy Holy Lord, Creator of All, we praise and bless your mercy and lovingkindness as we rise to meet the day. May we submit ourselves to your truth, O Loving One, and our lives may praise You before the world. Like Mary Magdalene, may we witness to Your life within us with joy and wonder, opening our hearts to the marvel of your truth. Fill us with awe at the manifold mercies of your saving love, Lord Christ, and send us into the world, rejoicing. Bless and keep those whose names we place at your feet, O Holy One, and grant them strength and peace.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Prayer 910

Merciful One, we turn to you as the face of the Earth again turns toward the sun, and offer our prayers in love and gratitude. 

Let us be grounded in faith, digging our roots deep, spreading out our branches to offer rest to those who seek or those in need. 
May we answer those who search for truth with the gospel message of love, compassion, and grace. 
Like the morning birds, may our praises fill the sky, for God indeed has done great things for us, and we are glad. 
Let us take our rest in our God, and place all our burdens before the throne, that we may be renewed and strengthened in hope. 

Lord Christ, send the power of your Spirit into our hearts and minds, and grant strength and peace to those we now name.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Prayer 909

Holy One, in gratitude I kneel before You, and with upturned hands I lift my heart to You, grateful for your love and faithfulness. 

Let me still my soul like a child on her mother's shoulder; let me rest in the peace of God and surrender to God's grace. 
May the love of God be a balm to my spirit, and pour over my skin like the attar of jasmine and roses. 
In mindfulness and compassion, guide me to be a blessing today, O Spirit, and lead me in paths of peace. 

Buoyed by your mercy, I place all that is within my heart before You, Lord Christ: accept my prayers offered before You.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Prayer 908

Almighty God, Lord Christ, we thank You for carrying us in safety through the night, and bearing us upon your shoulders to this new day. Let us go and give praise and thanksgiving to You, in word and song, rejoicing for our many blessings. Let us place our prayers before your altars, and take up your banner to carry it into the world. Let us live lives worthy of your truth, and turn our hands to works of love and faithfulness. Fill our hearts with the fire of the Holy Spirit, that our souls may be refreshed and renewed to your glory. Give ear to the upraised prayers and praises of your people, especially for those we now name.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Prayer, day 907

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

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


Friday, July 17, 2015

Prayer 906

Most Merciful One, we lift our hearts to You in worship and prayer. 

As we arise from our rest we turn to You, Lord Christ, and seek refuge within your outstretched arms. May we yield to your call to us, and turn to the sound of your voice, resting upon your promise of mercy. Lead us upon paths of holiness and compassion, opening our hearts to your wisdom and truth. Make your face to shine upon us, O Holy One, and grant us strength and courage to serve You in all our ways. 

Gather into your safekeeping all who turn to You, O God, and grant your blessing to those we now name.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Prayer 905

Come, let us sit in silence before our Creator, whose love is everlasting! Most Merciful One, may we honor You in all we do this day. May we repent of our headstrong ways, O God, for we choose the crooked paths and rocky shoals even as You call to us to You. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, that we may be inspired bearers of your message of love and peace. Strengthen the hands of healers and helpers, that those who suffer may be brought to wholeness and relief. Pour out your peace like a balm on the weary of heart, and comfort the anxious and fearful who call upon You. Remember your children as they call upon your Holy Name.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Prayer, day 904

(Inspired by Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
O Lord, You remind us that there is a time for everything: let today be a time to love and a time for peace. Let today be a time to heal hurts of the body and hurts of the heart, to mend what has been broken. Let today be a time to embrace our fellowship with You and with each other, to build up Your Beloved Community. Let today be a time to speak out for justice, to scatter the stones of ill-will and plant compassion in their place. Let today be a time to keep watch with those who work or wait or mourn, with those whose times are in Your hand, especially:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Prayer 903

Holy, holy, holy Lord, let your Spirit burn brightly in us today, and set our souls on fire for your truth. 

Give us gentle hands to do your work, and open hearts to receive your abundant grace, O God of hosts. 
Give us wisdom to seek out our Savior, Jesus Christ, in whose name we go into the world, rejoicing. 
Give us unity, and thanksgiving for loving souls in our lives who lift us up in fellowship. 

Holy One, you bend over creation as a mother over her cradled child: tend and soothe the hearts of those who call upon You. Accept the whispered prayers of your children, O Loving One, and press your peace and blessing upon those we now name.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Prayer 902

God of our salvation, we turn to You: our trust is never shaken. Lead us in path of truth and teach us how to walk in your ways, that peace and wisdom may spring up beneath our feet. 

All day long You walk beside me, before me and behind me: may faith in You, O God, is unshakable. 

Forgive our foolishness and hard-heartedness, O Lord, for all our offenses against You and each other. 

Raise up in me wisdom and compassion like a tender young shoot: let my roots sink deep into your love and faithfulness. 

Your path of peace is broad like a plain; your truth is a cool verdant valley that refreshes my soul. 

Open our ears to hear your words of courage and beauty, and fill our hearts with love and honor for all creation. Gather us under your wings, and press your blessing upon those we now name.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Prayer 901

A worthy question posed outside Davenport, Oklahoma on Route 66.

Lord God, we go with rejoicing to your holy sanctuary today, seeking to worship You in word and deed. 

May we open our hearts to give a home to your Word, Jesus Christ, and be awakened anew to the mysteries of your grace. May we clasp hands and hearts in the peace of Christ, renewing our fellowship in love and thankfulness. May we gather at your altars in love and give thanks for the Body and Blood that makes us one. 

Send us forth, filled with zeal to minister to the world and take up our labors in your bountiful fields, O Holy One. Accept the prayers offered from our hearts, and place your right hand of strength and blessing upon those we now name.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Prayer 900

A panoramic view from beneath the Survivor Tree at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Merciful Creator, set our feet upon the pathways of peace.

Guide us in the way of love and compassion, for we are prone to wander and go about our stubborn ways. 

Forgive us our foolishness and soften our hearts, that they may mend aright to be filled with your wisdom and grace. 

Turn our ears to hear the voice of our Savior calling us homeward with gratitude and joy. 

Let us rejoice in each others' blessings and join hands and hearts in each others' trials. 

Let us be one in spirit, one in love, one in peace. 

Place the awning of your mercy over us, Lord Christ, and fill us with your Spirit of Love.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Trusting the Promise: Speaking to the Soul, July 10, 2015

This was posted at on July 10, 2015.

I was walking around a gathering place in my hometown the other day, wearing my “Love Heals” T-shirt. A couple of people remarked about the message with a smile. One lady walked past me and simply said, “Yes, it does,’ to me and just kept walking—I will confess it took me a couple of seconds to realize what she meant. I had to look down at my own chest, and then call out my agreement to her back as she walked away.

It’s such a magnificent promise that it’s hard to accept it fully—both for the Ephesians, and for us. William Sloane Coffin remarked nearly forty years ago, “The tragedy of our country today is that most of us do not believe that we are loved by God—not really. If we do think so, we don’t think so emotionally. Consequently our much-vaunted individualism is selfish instead of selfless. Rather than accepting our value as a gift, we think we have to prove it.”

Too many of our countrymen are looking around at their neighbors and seeing nothing but threats. Their solution of arming themselves publicly then in turn threatens those around them. They look out on those the see on the streets and in parks and shops and see threats, not fellow human beings, and they think they can protect themselves through weaponry. Others of us interpose banners of earthly powers between both ourselves and others, as well as between us and the banner of Christ. These kinds of fear are contagious.

Sometimes, this fear of accepting the boundlessness of God’s mercy and love is rooted in old wounds that have yet to heal. For others of us, the language of family used to describe our relationship with God and each other brings to mind memories of times when the love we expected of family or friends failed us. Some of us have been shattered by being told that our love is not enough. These kinds of wounds are inflicted by those who themselves have been wounded by fear. But fear begets fear. Fear poisons the growth of hope and the ability to trust in promises.

Our reading from Ephesians reminds us that this is a problem that affects everyone, not just the Ephesians in the first century of the Christian era, but all of us. We live too often ruled by fear that we are not good enough—for each other, much less for God. The eyes of the world are often harsh and judgmental, and yet we spend most of our lives chasing after approval by what we do and what we have and what we look like.  I would take that one step further. The problem is not JUST that we have a hard time believing God loves us. We start with being unable to believe that God loves others, especially those some of us think of as “lesser-than” us—those accused of wrongdoing, those who follow other religions, those of other ethnicities, those who live in other countries or are from other countries, those whose sexual preference or understanding of gender is different from ours, those who are poor and marginalized.

We cannot truly accept the promise of God’s love for us unless we also accept the promise of God’s love for all of creation—even a creation that includes people who have been deeply wounded, either through their own choices or the choices of others. Because we have a hard time believing in God’s love of us, we start wanting to draw boundaries or limits around it.  One of the most horrifying things I heard preached from an Episcopal pulpit this year was the claim that some people are beyond the boundaries of God’s love. No. Ephesians reminds us that there is no division in God’s love. God seeks “to gather ALL things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” God’s love is a call to transformation and renewal—to live into our authentic selves as children of love and light. Yes, love does heal. But only if we allow ourselves to believe we are worthy of love, and to trust that promise. If we believe that, then perhaps we could also love each other, just as Christ loves us and gives himself for us, every day.

In the epistle for this Sunday, we are reminded that we are made by God to love and be loved by God. We are children of God—and as such, are fully integrated into God’s love.  We are beloved children of God—and Christ is our brother, as well as our Lord, Companion, and Savior. God loved us so much that God’s son was sent to us to show us more fully who God is. God is our Father. God is our Mother. God is the one who loves us beyond understanding. Like a child emerging from a fever, may we sink back into the promise of the God who embraces us and loves us beyond all reason, beyond all flaws.

Prayer 899

In silence and reverence, we bend the knee of our hearts before Our God and Savior, and ask that You consecrate this day. Holy One, may we breathe in your peace, and breathe out your praise. Each heartbeat sings out alleluia in thankful adoration for the Spirit who makes us one, for the God who blesses and keeps us. As the clouds part and the storms of the night pass beyond the horizon, dawn's glory fills us with peace and gratitude: thank You, Creator God. Give strength to the weary, comfort to the afflicted, and the bread of life to those who hunger for You, O Savior. Tune our hearts to play in harmony with each other, and draw our hands together to join in fellowship and love. Give ear to the whispered prayers of your children, O Loving One, especially as we lift up friends and loved ones in our intentions.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Prayer 898

Lead and guide us, Lord Christ: show us the way of salvation, the way of love, justice, and peace. 

May we fix our hearts and mind firmly upon You, O God, to love and serve You with gratitude and awe for all thy blessings. May we live a life of compassion, O Spirit, opening our hearts and dedicating our wills to bringing joy to others. 

We offer You our hands, our hearts, and our devotion, Most Holy One: use them as You will for thy glory. Turn our intentions to reconciliation and empathy for all living things, that we may live our lives filled with harmony and grace. 

Gather in your embrace, O Merciful and Almighty One, all those whose prayers rise to You as morning mist.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Prayer 897

Llamas outside of Commerce, Oklahoma on Route 66.

Light breaks over the land: the wisdom of God beckons to us! Come, let us adore our God, our life and our light! 

Let us follow the banner of love, proclaiming the good news: let our faces shine with joy & hope in all things. 

We praise You, Lord Christ, for upholding us by your mercy, and guiding us on the Way. 

Descend upon us, O Spirit, that we dedicate ourselves, all that we are and all that we have, to serving You. Open our eyes to see and know You in each face we look into, to see the image of God in all people. 

Let us turn our hands to deeds of compassion and mercy, to heal relationships and mend the hearts of the hurting. 

Hear us, O Lord, for your mercy is great: may your abiding, abundant love call us, gentle us and renew us. Anoint and bless those who call upon You, O Savior, especially those for whom we pray.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Prayer 896

God is our companion and savior: let us raise our hearts to the Eternal Lover of Our Souls. We thank You, Lord Christ, for preserving us and keeping us as your own: your love is everlasting! Adorn the brows of the joyful and the redeemed with a crown of laughter, O Holy One, as they offer their praise and gratitude. Strengthen the faltering hearts of those who worry or wait, that they may be filled with your grace and compassion. Send forth your Spirit to illumine our minds with holy love for all creation, that we may joyfully place our shoulders to the wheel of restoration. Bind up the wounds of those whose cry comes to You, O God, rising like a tide, whose hope is in You alone. Shine the light of your countenance upon those we now name.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Prayer, day 895

O Bright Morning Star, You guide us always toward the way we need to go; let us go, then, with rejoicing. You have set our feet upon this beautiful earth that moves at your command: let us also follow upon the path you have given us. We thank You for keeping watch over us unceasingly through the watches of the night and the events of our day. We lift up our eyes from our busyness to see your holiness, for we are prone to forget that You watch over us and never sleep. Gather those who are anxious or troubled under the shadow of your wing, and press them close.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Power of Expectations- Speaking to the Soul, July 5

This was posted at Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul on July 5, 2015.

I bought a new plant the other day. It was a hibiscus, but it didn’t have a tag as to its specific variety, so the lady at the nursery gave me 25% off on it. It was like a mystery hibiscus. None of its buds were open, clenched instead like a toddler’s fist, but the outside of the buds was yellow, and it was sitting with other yellow hibiscus, so I assumed it would be… yellow.

Surprise! It was not yellow. All the assumptions I made about it besides that it was indeed a hibiscus were incorrect. I thought it would be lovely, but it totally defied all my expectations.

It seems like the last few weeks, we have been hearing about miracles in our worship. Today, we get an interesting side discussion about the power of expectations. Jesus returns to his hometown in our gospel today, and his former neighbors, rather than embracing him, react with disbelief to his ministry.  When they look at Jesus, all they can see is “the carpenter’s son,” or “the brother of James.” They have him pegged in a certain way, and they are unwilling to consider that Jesus could be anyone other than who they understand him to be. It is often said that “you can’t go home again.” The problem is that often, home is not as you remembered it, and that’s further complicated by the fact that YOU are not as your neighbors and family remember you, either.

In our parish, we have been following the story of David in track one of the lectionary, and this Sunday’s reading has the people of the northern kingdom coming to David and asking him to rule them as well as the tribes of Judah he has been leading for seven years. David also has been a person who has defied expectations. When first introduced, he was just a young sheep-herder, who surprisingly became a great warrior. It took years for him to be accepted as a great leader, even with the favor of God resting upon him. In Jesus’s case, he had spent years there in Galilee, and his neighbors expect him to be a simple carpenter still, as he was before he left them. They expect him to be living a simple life like his brothers and sisters-- and his sisters, like so many women in scripture, are considered so nondescript that they don’t even get names. Those expectations of anonymity get confounded, however, the second Jesus opens his mouth and rolls up his sleeves. And the crowd does not like it.

The assumption is that Jesus has changed. Suddenly Jesus is preaching with authority. Suddenly he has a reputation as a healer and miracle worker. The problem is that Jesus was no longer rooted to that one particular place and that one particular identity, and that unsettles those who not only think they know him, but think they have Jesus pegged and filed away neatly under the “unexceptional” category.

Jesus was able to perform no deeds of power in the presence of his own kith and kin, because they did not have faith—in him, in his ministry, or even in themselves. They were meant to be simple rural folk—who was this stranger who appeared among them full of startling wisdom? Worse, they not only did not believe in him, they “took offense at him.” You can almost hear it now: “Just who does he think he is?” And behind that question is always this question: “Does he think he’s better than us?” Due to his own people’s lack of faith in him, the one who could calm storms and cast out demons and bring little girls back to life could do only heal a few people in his own country. Those who are incapable of faith in something often also have a hard time allowing themselves to hope, much less allow miracles to spring up right in front of them.

Many of us are like Jesus in that respect- we are electrified and transformed by the faith of others, which often strengthens our faith in ourselves. Just under a month ago here in St. Louis, the doors to our own Magdalene House, inspired by the original founded in Nashville by the Rev. Becca Stevens, opened its doors to its first residents. Hopefully many of us got to hear the magnificent sermon by this visionary woman during the General Convention Eucharist on July 1.

Framing this as a new venture in St. Louis would overlook the years and countless hours of work done by hundreds of supporters and volunteers and executive staff to get to this point.  The goal of this organization is to support women escaping life on the streets, addiction, prostitution, and abuse. It is to show these women that others have faith in them and to have faith in themselves, so that they can have the power within themselves unleashed. They are given the space and the time to bloom where they are planted.

Perhaps a definition of a miracle is an event that not just defies but shatters expectations. Last week our gospel told the story of a woman who was healed of a terrible illness through the faith to just brush her fingers along the tassel of the robe of a healer. These women will be lifted up by hundreds of hands of people who believe in their power and strength, and together that faith can work miracles. Faith breeds hope, and hope breeds love, and love heals. And that, my friends, is a miracle.