Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Week Prayers: Maundy Thursday


For the occasion of Maundy Thursday, today our prayers dwell on the last supper shared by Jesus with his friends & followers: "Then Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,” he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which isgiven for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And he did the samewith the cup after supper, saying, "This cup that is poured out for youis the new covenant in my blood." (Luke 22:19-20, NRSV)

Today, write a grace -- a thanksgiving prayer over a meal -- for the Communion meal. I'll be posting my prayer shortly at Faith and Water.

Bless us, Oh Lord,
and this bounty you have provided
Bless us, Oh Lord,
and the employers who give more than a paycheck
Bless us, Oh Lord,
and the teachers who bring a love of learning
Bless us, Oh Lord,
and the cafeteria workers who provide a lunch
Bless us, Oh Lord,
and the day care who provides more than a watchful eye
Bless us, Oh Lord,
as we feast upon hamburgers and french fries instead of bread and wine
Bless us today, Oh Lord,
and each day you give to us.


Side notes about Maundy Thursday. This is one of my favorite minor holy days. I don't know if it is truly minor or not, but I love the party feel that this service typically has. Even though we know what is about to happen in the next 3 days, this feast was a celebration. It was the Passover! I'm sure the meal took a turn for the disciples when Christ switched the tone on them, but I do believe Christ enjoyed the party as much as the others did. I never really knew what "Maundy" meant until recently. Wikipedia explains it like this:

the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.

I really like that this is a New Commandment to us and a reminder of what Christ said was the greatest commandment to love each other.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy Week Prayers: Day 37

Today I invite you to pray with Jesus in the garden:
"They went to a place called Gethsemane; and Jesus said
to his disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' He took with him
Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed
and agitated. And he said to them, 'I am deeply grieved,
even to death; remain here & keep awake.'" (Mark 14:32-34)
We are greatly familiar with our own griefs and stresses; what might Jesus' grief and distress have been that night? Can you pray with Jesus through his agony?
I find it so hard to pray in the midst of trouble, when I'm knee deep in it. My soul prays, but my brain can't. And I don't know what's coming next. You did. You knew what to expect. You knew how long it would last. You knew exactly what your body would have to endure. You knew exactly how taxing it would be. Yet you went. You cried out to your Father, but you still went. I would have been as dumbfounded as your closest companions, wanting you to fight against it, wanting you to run away. But you knew better. And were still scared. Was there comfort in your friends? Was there comfort in your foreknowledge? Would I been able to provide anything other than my presence? Would that have been enough?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Holy Week Prayers: Day 36

Often at the end, we find ourselves remembering the beginning. "Look: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel, which means God is with us." (Matthew 1:23, NRSV)In this Holy Week as we near the end of Jesus' earthly life, pay attention to incarnations of God-with-us. Look around you today. How are you witnessing Christ present with others? Write a prayer for someone you encounter today.

Jesus, you are present with me. I can see your work, your reminders. I want to be like you. I want to lead as you lead. I want to love as you love. Let me show you to others today; let my words be gentle and thoughtful. I have heard your prompting this week. I will follow.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Week Prayers: Day 35

I am reminded of how many turns & surprises the disciples experienced as they walked with and listened to Jesus during the final days before his crucifixion. Even small talk about architecture took an unexpected turn: "When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, 'As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.'" (Luke 21:5-6, NRSV)

Why am I amazed when you provide in a way I didn't expect?
Why am I surprised when you answer a prayer?
Why am I so slow to see your hand at work?
You continue to amaze me
You do not leave a single stone unturned, with all the messiness beneath
Yet that messiness is necessary to get me where you need me.

I have prayed for you to put me where you need me.
And then I am upset when you do so

Let this change be pleasing to you
Let this be the step
Let me blossom into the person you need me to be
Let this be an amazing unexpected turn

Holy Week Prayers: Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Prompt:
In Luke's telling of the triumphant entrance and palm parade in Jerusalem, the disciples shout, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven!" When the Pharisees insist to Jesus that the disciples keep quiet, he replies, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out." (Luke 19:38-40)

A question for your reflection, creativity and prayer: what would the stones shout?

Why are you silent?
Why do you not cry out?
Do you not see who is here?
Our Lord, Jesus, has arrived!
He is here to change the world!
Do not keep silent!
Cry Out!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

40 Prayers of Lent: Day 30

Before I get into my prayer writing, I can't believe we are already on day 30 of Lent. Palm Sunday is 5 short days away. And then Easter. Easter will be different this year as we will not be home. This will be the first year we are not at FUMC for Easter since we joined the church. This will be my first secular Easter in a very long time. I love Easter Sunday services. I love the old hymns, "Up from the Grave, "Christ the Lord has Risen Today" and of course the "Hallalujah Chorus." I'd love to sing more from "The Messiah" at Easter, but it seems to have a firm place at Christmas time. I think I will really miss service this year as it feels like a true new beginning. Maybe we can find a sunrise service to sneak off to.


Today's prompt: What metaphor would you use to describe how you connect to God? As a headphones plugged into the heart of music? As a branch connected to the life of a vine?

In the stillness
In the quiet
You speak directly to me
But I keep moving
Keep going
And forget to stop and wait
I need to find the place
Where you are waiting for me
In the stillness
In the quiet
Bring me to that secret place
Where we can meet
And I can feel your peace
In the stillness
In the quiet

Monday, March 18, 2013

40 Prayers of Lent: Fifth Sunday in Lent

From Jesus' parable of the banquet in Luke 14: "Then the banquet host said to his servant, 'Go out into the roads and lanes, and bring people in so that my house may be filled.'" (Luke 14:23, adapted from the NRSV).  Who needs an invitation to "come in" from being outcast and shunned? Is it someone you've excluded, or is there someone you've noticed who feels uncertain about participating? Are you the one who needs an invitation to "come in" to be nurtured and filled?

The great banquet
All are invited.
"Come to my table
There is room for all.
None will be turned away."

As I come to the feast
Who do I bring?
Whom have I forgotten?
Whom have I left behind in my haste?
I shall keep my eyes on Him
But do not let me forget those around me.
My family, my friends, my neighbors

Come to the table he set
Come with your eyes set on him
Come to the feast of Christ
Here is a link to Rachel's prayer.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

40 Prayers of Lent, Day 25

At the outset of 1 Corinthians 15, there is a delightful sentence that illustrates the movement and involvement of the good news:
"Now I remind you, brothers and sisters, of the
good news that I proclaimed and you received,
in which you also stand and through which
you continue to be saved." (15:1-2, adapted)
The good news of grace & life is not only proclaimed and received; it moves in and through, it surrounds beneath and among, we stand in it and we live through it. What the gospel does (what God does) is expressed in verbs, but the movement of the gospel/God requires prepositions.
 So close to St. Patrick's Day, I can't help but go to the prayer attributed to the saint himself:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
 Cheating in my prayer writing? Perhaps, but a comforting prayer nonetheless.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

40 Prayers of Lent: Day 24

Our prayer prompt begins with Mark 13:28-29 (NRSV): "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he [the Son of Man] is near."  A warm rain is pouring down in south-central Pennsylvania today; even though the rain makes the day dreary, I am delighted by the reminder that it's time for spring! What time is it in your life, and what are the signs?

Every day I look for the signs:
Where do you need me?
Where do you want me?
What direction are you taking me?
Am I even using the right map?
I want to be where you need me,
yet I am uneasy, uncomfortable

Then I remember
I'm not home yet
I'm supposed to be uneasy
I'm not supposed to see the map
But I know my final destination.
I must trust that your gentle nudges
(2x4s to the head)
Will keep me on your path
As I continue to navigate this crazy world.

Monday, March 11, 2013

40 Prayers of Lent; Days 22 & 23

Saturday's prompt: "As for me, I walk in my integrity; redeem me, O LORD, and be gracious to me" (Psalm 26:11, NRSV). Isn't this a reflection of our daily aim: to live true to ourselves and to God's call, and to know God's grace in our lives?

Be kind to me today, oh Lord, as I attempt to walk in your light.
Be merciful to me, oh Lord, when I forget
I seek your grace, every day, and every day I forget
Let me be kind
Let me be merciful
Let me be gracious
As you are gracious to me.


Monday's prompt: From The Message, the opening verses of Psalm 104 read: "O my soul, bless God! God, my God, how great you are: beautifully robed, dressed up in sunshine, and all heaven stretched out for your tent. You built your palace on the ocean deeps, made a chariot out of clouds, and took off on wind-wings."

Where are you seeing God today? Is God putting on a fashion show with the morning sunrise? Is God drawing on the sky with jet trails?

Where are you today? As I sit in my office, in the basement, away from your amazing world, I must seek you in the world that man  has made. I listen to "Christian" music, seeking "inspiration." Yet it feels dull. It doesn't feel real. It feels fake. So many times I am fake. I have the "Christian" look. I say the "Christian" things. And yet, am I saying the right things so I will fit in? So others will see how "holy" I am?

Show me where you are today, even within this man made place with artificial light and artificial noise and artificial space. Let my inspiration come from you. Let my mind be filled with you for your sake. Not for accolades. Not for me. Only for you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

40 Prayers of Lent, Day 21

Today's prompt: Good news for us today from Exodus 8:7 (NRSV): "For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills."

What goodness still awaits you, by the grace of God? What relief is still coming to you? Can you see what it is, like the landscape outlined by God in this verse, or is it still unknown? Praise God in your prayer-writing for what is still to come.

Gifts yet to come. Gifts I cannot even imagine wanting or needing, yet You know they are on their way. As I look to the past, the gifts I have already counted, I have faith You will continue to provide, continue to give, abundantly, more than I can dream. We live in such an amazing time. Light, heat, cool at our whim. Cross country travel in less than a day. Round the world friends in communication at our finger tips. You have inspired man to create these amazing things. You provide beauty for our eyes, ears, nose. I eagerly await what you have lined up next!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

40 Prayers of Lent; Day 19

Today's [Yesterday's] prayer-writing prompt reflects on Psalm 12:1-3 (NRSV): "Help, O LORD, for there is no longer anyone who is godly; the faithful have disappeared from humankind. They utter lies to one another; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that makes great boasts."

How does your tongue show your faith...or not? When do you hedge with your words, or use words defensively, or allow words to reason away uncomfortable truths? In your prayer-writing, use words to pray over your words and to strive for greater faithfulness with your mouth. My prayer today is here:

Let my words be few
Let my words be true
Let my words be all for you
Let my words bring you glory.
Let my words in work, in home
   in speaking to my husband, my children, my friends
Let each word be as if I were speaking only to you

Monday, March 4, 2013

40 Prayers of Lent, Day 16

Saturday's prompt: From 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NRSV), "The Lord said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.'"

Oh, how contrary that is to all that we strive after, how countercultural to our daily instincts! We envy the ways in which power begets power. We yearn for favor to pave our way. We pray for our own success to beget further success. Weakness and struggle seem to be stumbling blocks in the way of comfortable living . . . but no. No. Power and comfort and success are neither the goals nor the paths. Grace -- the loving kindness of God -- is sufficient for our living.

Your grace is enough for me. Except when it isn't. Except when I think it isn't.
Let me be the servant today. Let me not seek power.
Let me seek you and seek ways to serve you.
To serve your children.
Your son washed the feet of his disciples.
How can I do that today?
Where is water needed?
Whose feet can I wash?
Who needs me today?

Let me work with that heart today.
Each phone call.
Each emailed message.
Each person who crosses my path.
Give me the heart to serve them.
Let me show You to them.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

First Weekend in March

Beautiful day here today. We had lots of fun playing in the backyard and wore out Rusty & Jessie.

Friday, March 1, 2013

40 Prayers of Lent, Days 14 & 15

Yesterday's Prompt: Sometimes in our pursuit of Lenten penitence, we forget that God's grace isn't "on hold" until Easter. Yes, our faith is imperfect; yes, we struggle in this wilderness; and by God's grace we are empowered -- in all of our imperfection and incompleteness -- to witness to a transforming, renewing Love. The Holy Spirit has come, and we are witnesses! Write a prayer of thanksgiving for God's grace in using you where you are, as you are.

Using me where I am.
Uncertain of the future, I feel and react to stress
I forget you have me here,
   at this time,
   in this place for a reason
The Holy Spirit is here; is now.
I have received it.
And I am your witness
   to the ends of the earth
Help me to remember this
   When I am weak
   When I am tired
   When I am frustrated about the future
Let me be your light
Let me be the vessel you need


Day 15: "You have granted me life & steadfast love." Job 10:12

When I am down, you are there. When I am tired, worn, you are there. You have given me this gift and you are here to support me, to lift me up with your steadfast love.

What can mere people do to me? You are my helper. People cannot keep me down. I have your hand to lift me up, to bring me up.

Hebrews 13:6 So we can say with confidence "The Lord is my helper. I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?"