Sunday, April 4, 2021

Halleluiah! He's coming again!

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
Halleluiah! and he is coming again!


Lord,
this day calls for celebration and dancing!
This day calls for all ages, nations, races to rejoice!
You have conquered death.

Today, Lord,
"I rejoice, I am so glad
That Man that gave His all for me is coming back
Let everyone hear
Let every heart rejoice
That Man who gave His all for you is coming back"

I join my voice, my body, in praise and dancing!

Click to join this celebration in music and dance:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JWFXgvXRlU


__________
The above song shared by a member of my church from Nigeria. Thank you, Ifeanyi!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Ah, Holy Jesus

"Ah, Holy Jesus"

Click the link below to listen to this hymn:
https://youtu.be/aAhMhAvzTY0


Lord,
this is one of my favorite hymns for Holy Week.
It helps me connect clearly
your suffering, your death
being for me and for my sake.

The hymn tune,
forboding and gut-wrenching,
embodies the heartfelt anguish
realizing that it was I,
I crucified you.

As I listen,
as I sing,
I am profoundly aware
of the depth of your love for me
and I am moved in awe and wonder
and gratitude to live my life for you.
May it be so this day
and all of my days.
Amen.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Jesus Died For Them - Poem by Dave Hopwood

"Jesus Died For Them"
poem by Dave Hopwood
shared from: https://www.engageworship.org/ideas/jesus-died-for-them-poem

Judas betrayed Jesus,
Peter denied Jesus,
Thomas doubted Jesus:
Jesus died for them.

Pilate rejected Jesus,
Herod taunted Jesus,
Caiaphas framed Jesus:
Jesus died for them.

The soldiers crucified Jesus,
the disciples deserted Jesus,
the people laughed at Jesus:
Jesus died for them.

Mary wept for Jesus,
the women anointed Jesus,
Joseph buried Jesus:
Jesus rose for them.

We have doubted Jesus,
we have denied Jesus,
we rejected Jesus:
but Jesus died for us.


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Stay with me

"Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray."

Listen using the link below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WNY7vKiMjY


Lord,
this haunting melody,
this haunting prayer -- 
is it your prayer?

This night
as you take Peter, James and John,
as you go a stone's throw further
is this what you asked of them?

Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.

Lord, 
is this your prayer?
Asking us to 
stay awake, pay attention,
attend to you in our prayers?

Stay with me;
Remain her with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.

Lord,
is this your prayer?
Asking God to
keep watch over you
as you make your way
into the depths of your suffering
and death?

Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.

Lord,
is it MY prayer?
As I am faced
with the ways I betray you,
with the ways I deny you,
with the ways I run away and hide in fear.

Tonight
this is my prayer:
Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.

Watch over my life;
Do not leave me to my own devices.
Rather, Lord, open the way
lead me away from temptation
and into your redemptive love.

Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Was blind, but now I see

"Amazing grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me 
I once was lost but now am found 
was blind, but now I see."


Lord,
these words of a familiar hymn
speak to me anew today,
especially the last line:
"was blind, but now I see."

The past year 2020 put into focus
just how deep the blindness is.

The quarantine of COVID-19
reveals just how interdependent humans are:
from the contact tracing which showed our webs of connection
to global supply chains for goods,
including the materials to make, distribute, and actually give the vaccine shots
to the experience of isolation, despair, depression
from not being physically together
Fierce independence has always been a lie,
a turning from how you, Lord, made us for community.
May we never forget how much we NEED each other
in order to be fully ourselves.

The videos and images of racial violence
are tempting to shut my eyes against and 
ignore as white men, like me, have done for generations.
Lord, it is a very real temptation every day.
Power and privilege are a murderous undertow in a sea of change.
Lord,
I continue to pray for new eyes, new ears, new wisdom and new partnerships.
New eyes to really see the violence and systems
that men, like me, benefit from every day.
New ears to hear your call for change, for repentance and for reconcilliation.
New wisdom to know 
how to act out justice, 
how to embody steadfast covenant faithfulness, and 
how to walk humbly.
New partnerships -- holy friendships with those who are different.

The political division, discord, and estrangement
exhibit my country's willingness
to tear the other down in order to win
no matter what destruction, shrapnel, permanent injury, and trauma remain.
Words matter and some wounds do not heal.
Lord, we are blind to who the other is
not an ideology, not an abstraction, not a nonliving political action committee,
but a person, 
a child of God,
someone who is also the object of your affection,
the one you desire,
the one you think is worth your dying for.

Lord,
we are so blind.

This week
This Holy Week
shine your bright light.
Reveal to us the enormity of our sin.
Give us clarity of vision.
Laser focus our lives
in the sharp resolution of your redemption
so that we may turn from our destructive ways
and become repairs of the breach.

May it be so
in my life and in the life of the world
today and every day.
Amen.



________
The above prayer was inspired by the text I received recently from my mother following her laser eye surgery. She wrote, "Laser eye surgery quick and successful. I can see!!!"

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Way of Suffering

"The Via Dolorosa"
The Way of Suffering











photo by Gali Tibbon /AFP/Getty Images

Lord,
As you make your way,
as we follow you on the way,
you lead us
through pain, betrayal, abandonment,
suffering, false accusations, defamation, 
injustice, whipping, torture,
all the way to the lynching tree.

In your suffering and death,
we witness the worst of our own humanity -
the evil one human does to another human.

Lord,
I would have hoped
we would have learned to turn from such evil.
However,
Concentration camps were still built.
Lynchings still continue.
Gynocide is still a reality.
Humans still do evil to other humans.
And even more troubling,
the church, your church, 
the embodiment of Jesus Christ on earth
has been complicit
explicitly or silently in all of it.

Lord,
I wouldn't blame you
if you walked away from it all.
But amazingly you don't.
You keep walking the way of pain;
you keep leading us;
you keep beckoning us to follow you.

Forgive us, Lord.
Redeem us, Lord.
Do not give up on us, Lord.
Transform us, Lord,
so that we will embody your reconciling love
that brings about peace, justice, and well-being.

Make it so today
and in every day of my life.
Amen.

Monday, March 29, 2021

What a Mess

Mark 11:15-17

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”


What a mess, Lord!

The coins rolling everywhere.
Someone's going to have to count those.

Feathers from the doves and
other mess from the doves too
Someone's going to have to clean that up.

Tables and benches everywhere.
Merchandise left unattended.
What a mess.

But that's not the mess you see,
is it?

You see the mess of our worship.
Twisting a time of prayer
into business connections.
Corrupting communion with you
into being seen by others.
Falsifying fellowship with the people of God
into social standing.

Come, Lord Jesus,
and turn the tables again.
Upset the status quo.
Call us back to
being a people of prayer.
Make your sanctuary once again
a house of prayer for all nations.

Make it so!
Amen.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

He had a plan - Palm Sunday

Mark 11:1-8

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.

7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.


Lord,
I have always thought
you just foreknew that the colt would be there.
I assumed it was part of 
the omniscience - all-knowing -- of God.
Maybe.

But this year, I have a new thought:
You planned for the colt to be there.
You had sent word ahead
that you were coming and would need an animal.
You had made arrangements.

Makes sense.

In Luke's gospel, you are quoted saying:
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.
Won’t you first sit down
and estimate the cost
to see if you have enough money to complete it?" Luke 14:28
You had a plan.

It even seems your disciples planned ahead,
"others spread branches they had cut in the fields."
I guess I have assumed they just cut from what was at hand.
Now I see, they brought the branches with them
or at least had gathered them along the way intentionally.

This was no spur-of-the-moment parade. 
You had a plan.
The King of peace
riding into Jerusalem
on a donkey colt.
The One coming to depose empire
through peaceful means
and bring about the peace of God
that surpasses understanding.

You had a plan all along.
Now I see it.

Ride on, O King of Peace,
and bring your peace about
in my life and in the life of the world!
Amen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

One Year with COVID

written by by Traci Smith, used by permission www.traci-smith.com

A Prayer Marking One Year of Pandemic Life, for All Ages

God,
you are with us all the time. 
All the time you are with us.

Today we remember: 
We remember how things used to be. 
We remember how many things we have gone through. 
We remember things we missed and people we lost.

Today we hope: 
We hope for healing. 
We hope for vaccines. 
We hope for wisdom.

Today we share: 
We share smiles with one another. 
We share our joys and our sorrows. 
We share our dreams for the future.

God,
you are with us, all the time. 
All the time, you are with us. 
Be with us as we remember, hope, and share.
Amen.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Feeling Whole

Lord,
this week many have asked me how I am doing...
my best answer, my most honest answer has been:
Today I almost feel whole.

Then I began to wonder...
what does it mean to feel whole?
At first, I thought it meant healed.
Then perhaps, it means complete.
The more I reflect on "whole"
its meaning includes complete healing, perhaps,
but it also includes the fullness of life.

The fullness of life for each of us is different I am sure.

Lord,
what does it mean for me to be whole, 
to be in the fullness of life?

For me, 
being whole includes enjoying creation: 
being outside among the birds and beasts, 
flowers and trees, 
rocks and creeks.
Being whole includes being healthy:
eating good and good for me foods,
exercising and getting stronger.
Being whole includes creating:
writing poetry, writing prayers, 
making music, making art.
Being whole includes loving:
my wife, my son, 
my parents, my brother, my family.
Being whole includes being with others:
friends, colleagues, 
at conferences, on retreats, in phone calls.
Being whole includes: 
laughing, dancing, praying, believing, resting.

Being whole means 
celebrating the gift that I am and the gift of others.
Being whole means 
the light of Christ shining in me 
honoring the light of Christ shining through others.

Today, 
I almost feel whole.
In you, O Lord, 
I am whole.
Today I choose
"wholly" living!
Amen.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A Prayer for Healing

O God,
we pray for healing, for health, and for whole-ness
for each and for all.
We pray for those in the throes of illness.
We pray for those recovering from surgery.
We pray for those awaiting surgery, test results, and treatment.
O Healing One,
we ask for effective treatment, wise decision making, and fullness of recovery.
Use doctors, nurses, therapists, family members, 
medicines, vaccines, and rest 
to do your healing work.
In the strong name of Jesus Christ,
we pray.

Amen. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Unused Gift of Christmas

written on Epiphany, January 6, 2021

Matthew 2:1-12

1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:


6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.



Lord,
today I am reflecting on the gifts the Magi gave:
Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

Gold
a precious metal,
valuable.
Perhaps Mary used it to buy what was needed;
perhaps to pay for the room in the house (see vs 11).
Gold -- a gift for a king, the Messiah!

Frankincense
a perfume,
an incense used in worship. (see Exodus 30:34-35)
Perhaps Mary took it to the temple to consecrate the child;
perhaps to cover the other smells a baby makes.
Frankincense -- a gift for the divine, the Son of God!

Myrrh
a fragrant spice,
an embalming spice used at burial.
Perhaps Mary kept this gift;
perhaps she would find it hidden in a drawer
and be filled with dread by its scent 
reminded of the future that awaited her son.
Perhaps three decades later, 
Mary and the other women prepared it to anoint the dead body.
But it would not be needed.
The used gift of Christmas.
Myrrh -- a gift for the dead... but the Lord is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!

Lord,
I wonder if Mary kept the Myrrh.
I wonder if the smell brought her a whole host of memories --
the angel's visit,
the trip to Bethlehem,
the night of his birth -- stable and shepherds and all,
the visit of the Magi and their gifts,
the joys and worries of watching him grow,
the power of his preaching,
the marvel of his healing,
the depth of his suffering,
her pain at his death,
the wonder of his rising.

Lord,
thank you for the unused gift of Christmas.
Help me live into its resurrection hope!
Amen.


__________
The above reflection/prayer was inspired by listening to the offering today of Pray As You Go.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Sharing A Prayer for the New Year

I read this prayer online today and found it helpful:

God of all time,
help us enter the New Year quietly,
thoughtful of who we are to ourselves and to others,
mindful that our steps make an impact
and our words carry power.
May we walk gently.
May we speak only after we have listened well.

Creator of all life,
help us enter the New Year reverently,
aware that you have endowed
every creature and plant, every person and habitat
with beauty and purpose.
May we regard the world with tenderness.
May we honor rather than destroy.

Lover of all souls,
help us enter the New Year joyfully,
willing to laugh and dance and dream,
remembering our many gifts with thanks
and looking forward to blessings yet to come.
May we welcome your lavish love.
In this new year, may the grace and peace of Christ bless us now and in the days ahead.

- written by Vinita Hampton Wright; offered by Douglas Ruschman

shared from: https://www.xavier.edu/jesuitresource/online-resources/prayer-index/new-years-prayers#Help%20Us%20Enter%20the%20New%20Year