Prayer of the Week

Praying Hands--blog--11-2-2017

 

 

(We prayed the following prayer and words of assurance on Sunday and the words resonated with me. I thought I would share them with you!)

 

Prayer of Confession

Happy are those who turn away from the counsel of the wicked.

But oh, that counsel can be so seductive

it draws us in,

holds us fast,

distracts our priorities,

obstructs our capacity to love.

 

But we seek no obstructions, we reject wicked counsel.

We embrace God’s embrace.

 

For whatever ways we don’t, we confess.

In whichever ways we sin, we repent.

 

Hear our prayers, O God, as before you, we seek wholeness.

Silence

God of mercy, grace, reconciliation and goodness:

We are sorry for so much—

For words we cannot bear to say,

For memories we cannot bear to relive,

For thoughts we cannot bear to admit.

But you know our hearts.

Relieve us of our burdens,

Bind our hearts not to the unbearable but rather, to you.

So that, in all ways,

We may live in the joy of your salvation

And the delight of your loving embrace.

 

Words of Assurance:

Praise be to God, our sins are forgiven.

God’s steadfast love endures forever. Amen.

 

–Local Church Ministries, Faith Formation Ministry Team, United Church of Christ; Rev. Kaji S. Dousa

In Prayer

 

800px-celtic_cross_knock_ireland

(Wikipedia; Creative Commons)

 

The Lord’s Prayer

(in the spirit of Celtic spirituality)

O God, you love us like a good parent, and are present in every aspect of our existence.

May your nature become known and respected by all.

May your joy, peace, wholeness and justice be the reality for everyone as we live by the Jesus Way.

Give us all that we really need to live every day for you.

And forgive us our failures as we forgive others for their failures.

Keep us from doing those things which are not of you, and cause us always to be centered on your love.

For you are the true reality in this our now, and in all our future.

In the Jesus Way we pray. Amen.

–David Sorril

In Review

blogpost-assimilateorgohomeAssimilate or Go Home: Notes From a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith

by D.L. Mayfield (HarperOne, 2016) 207 pps.

In Assimilate or Go Home, D.L. Mayfield recounts her college-age desires to go to the mission field and save all of the lost souls to Jesus Christ. She describes her Christian college classes which focus on missions and how she earnestly engages with the assigned readings, professors, and classmates. She volunteers to teach English as a second language to Somali Bantu refugees who recently arrived in Portland, Oregon. As she begins to spend time with them she experiences internal dissonance and external resistance from the people she was “ministering to.” Eventually, this dissonance leads her away from missions, per se, to a life of living with, alongside the people she was initially planning to convert.

 
The book is organized by essays which highlight Mayfield’s journey from a naïve, eager would-be overseas missionary to a wiser, experienced Christian who lives in a poor, multicultural neighborhood. Many of the essays were previously published but are gathered here for an effective memoir.

 
In the essay “Vacation Bible Schools” Mayfield describes taking some of the refugee children to a week-long program popular in many evangelical churches. The theme for the VBS was “The Serengeti” with suggestions to decorate the church rooms with African-themed images.

 
Mayfield took a van full of children and “they stared in silent amazement at all the large cutouts of giraffes and elephants decorating the stage.” As she directed her children to a drinking fountain she overheard a small child exclaim, “Oh! They brought us kids from the Serengeti!” She realized that the church children thought the refugee children were props:

I wanted to self-righteously shake my finger and rant about “othering” people, but I was supposed to be the exemplary volunteer. . . . I glared at everyone around me. I felt smug, secure in my own saintliness as I bustled around my group of exotics, the only diverse kids in the large, pale bunch. I drove all the kids home, but decided not to bring them the next night.

Yet, as Mayfield reflected later on this experience she realized that her refugee friends were sort of a prop for her own life. “When I finally started to believe the opposite, to see them as complex, flesh-and-blood people, everything got much harder … And my view of myself was irrevocably changed.”

 
Mayfield is a skilled writer, bringing the reader into her life while revealing her thoughts, questions, and struggles.

 
I first read this book last fall, shortly after it was published. I began re-reading in early January before the inauguration and before the executive order banning refugees from seven predominately-Muslim countries was issued. In response to the ban, Mayfield posted on her blog, “Ten ways to support refugees.” This list is very helpful with practical suggestions.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

§From this morning’s sermon: “Lent is not a 40-day self-improvement plan. It’s about becoming more like Christ.”  Good reminder.

§From last Sunday’s sermon:  “We cannot escape the presence of God. However, we can easily ‘forget’ that we are kept alive from moment to moment in that Divine Presence. Therefore it is important to practice getting in contact with the Divine Presence. What works best for you?

Here are some suggestions:

*Imagine God looking in wonder at you, as you might look with delight and admiration at your own child.

*Imagine yourself immersed in the Divine Presence with the Divine Light surrounding you and flowing through every cell of your body.

*Picture yourself as a cell in some organ or body part of the cosmic Body of Christ.

*Picture Jesus standing beside you, eager to be with you, lovingly energizing and supporting your prayer.

*Picture yourself surrounded by the clear bright light of the Holy Spirit, perhaps in the shape of a huge, protective, grace-filled bubble of light.

*Repeat a simple prayer silently with each exhaled breath.

*Imagine placing your hand in God’s hand.”

–adapted by Pastor Anita Smith Buckwalter from of The New Spiritual Exercises: In the Spirit of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin by Louis Savary, (Paulist, 2010).

§From last year’s reflection on Lent: http://wp.me/p1DCBi-4A

Prayer for peace (and those who work for peace)

Global Peace

Creator God we praise and bless your holy name. We bless your handiwork as seen in the beauty of the season. You are truly the Divine Artist.

We thank you for your mercifulness and kindness toward us and toward all of  the world. We thank you for your patience and love–they are truly new every morning. You are God above all other gods.

We confess that we take your mercy and grace for granted. We presume on your love, forgetting that your love is a gift freely offered and given by you and there is nothing we can do to earn your love. Forgive us for insisting on our own way and attempting to control you–we forget that you are God of the universe. Forgive us for assuming that we know better than you do, for thinking we are more wise than you.

Merciful God, we receive your forgiveness and lovingkindness with humbled hearts. Thank you for your mercy and grace.

And now, Loving God, we ask you to intervene on behalf of the men, women and children around the world who are suffering. We ask that you pour out your Spirit to bring about justice as well as your peace.

We pray especially for the peacemakers around the world. We ask that you give them stamina and encouragement in the long, difficult process toward peace. Give each of them open and clear hearts and minds as they continue to work for peace. And God, we bring before you the extremists who want to destroy peace for whatever reason. We ask that you grip their hearts with love and compassion rather than power and revenge.

We also pray for the peacemakers in North America. We pray especially for those who work with warring gangs, with children who have guns, with parents who have lost hope. Oh God our parent, we ask that you stir us up, rouse us from our complacency so we will care that our children and youth are dying in this country. Help us to grieve over the loss of lives of anonymous youth. Give us a glimpse of your grief.

And God, not only do we pray for peacemakers, we pray for peace itself. Please bring peace to this world. Please answer our prayers.

Loving God, we thank you that you are a God who listens to your people and acts on behalf of those requests. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear as you move in this world and in our lives. Amen.