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

Palm Sunday Audacity: Love Remains

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Palm Sunday. The day of Jesus’ brilliant subversion of the Empire—mocking both the Roman authorities and the Jewish religious authorities. Such audacity. If the disciples were anxious for Jesus before they returned to Jerusalem, I can only imagine how they felt when Jesus entered Jerusalem with all that fanfare.

Jesus wasn’t subtle on Palm Sunday. He took on the establishment—the Empire—in outlandish ways: miracles on the Sabbath, teaching in the synagogue, growing up in Nazareth, continuously challenging the religious authorities.

Then Palm Sunday. The crowd in Jerusalem asked, “Who is this man?” I’m sure the religious authorities asked that question long before Palm Sunday with increasing bewilderment to annoyance to anger to fury to planning his assassination.

The religious authorities also asked: “Who does he think he is?”

Who did Jesus think he was?

God. Showing us Love.

  • Love that continuously flows toward us.
  • Love that is beyond our comprehension.
  • Love that we receive in small amounts because receiving larger amounts is overwhelming for us.
  • Love that believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
  • Love is. Love is generous and kind, thinking the best of the Other, of wanting what is best for the Other.
  • Love is humble—not boastful or needing to elbow Others out of their place in line.
  • Love doesn’t classify who is important and who isn’t important.
  • Love doesn’t judge but honors Others.

The ways of the Empire do not work in Love. The Empire views Love as a threat and will do whatever is necessary to squelch Love. The Empire believes it has ultimate control and power (although how hard it works to maintain power reveals how slippery that power actually is). The Empire doesn’t really understand that Love is the real power—kindheartedness, gentleness, humility, modesty, generosity, yieldedness. These qualities are perceived by the Empire as weaknesses and foolishness and responds with disdain and sneers.

But Love remains. Despite all the attempts of the Empire to squelch Love, Love remains.

(For an earlier Palm Sunday reflection, here).

 

Giotto, 1266?-1337. The Entry into Jerusalem, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56140

The Wisdom of Peace Pilgrim (Part 1)

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“There’s no greater block to world peace or inner peace than fear. What we fear we tend to develop an unreasoning hatred for, so we come to hate and fear. This not only injures us psychologically and aggravates world tension, but through such negative concentration we tend to attract the things we fear. If we fear nothing and radiate love, we can expect good things to come. How much this world needs the message and example of love and of faith!” —Steps Toward Inner Peace

(Peace Pilgrim lived 1908-1981 and walked more than 25,000 miles from 1953-1981 spreading her message: “This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”)

In Prayer

 

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(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

The Unmade Bed

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I am reading Christine Valters Paintner’s latest book, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice and am marking up the book with stars, underlines, and circled words as I begin to shift my understanding of photography. In the introduction she writes: “Photography as a spiritual practice combines the active art of image-receiving with the contemplative nature and open-heartedness of prayer.” (p. 3)

In chapter 1, Christine suggests we take 50 photos of one thing. “Choose an object from your everyday life. It could be anything that you engage with daily but that often falls under your radar of real attention …become curious about this object and see if you can make fifty images of it.”

I chose our unmade bed (perhaps a cheeky choice). I took 50 photos of it and I became curious of how the light and shadows might be seen on the sheets and quilt. I was surprised by my emotional responses to the images as I uploaded them later to my laptop. Here is a sampling:

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I saw our bed as a place of life, safety, comfort, intimacy, and love. This is the place where I feel safest, secure in Kevin’s love and fidelity.  The unmade-ness of the bed reveals our life together.

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This is the second quilt I made, in the late 1990s. I fell in love with colors in both the printed fabric and the batik fabrics when I first saw them together in the local quilt store in Goshen. I had enormous fun wandering amongst the fabrics, pulling bolts from their snuggled companions, and place them with the other fabrics, seeing if they will mix well together.  I was so excited to play with these fabrics and I had great fun piecing this quilt together.

 

IMG_0458I see how the colors are beginning to fade by use and sunlight. Although the colors have lost their vibrancy I still love them.  And I still love the sunflowers—one of my favorite flowers.

 

IMG_0463I was unaware of how worn the quilt is getting from daily use as I see the fraying of the binding. The fraying is a sign of love to me. Love for the quilt, love in the bed.

 

IMG_0466I didn’t intend to photograph my shoes beside the bed but I am delighted to see them. A sign of life and life beyond the bed.

 

IMG_0475Lastly, Kevin’s shirt discarded onto the bed late in the day after he had worked hard in the backyard. Another sign of life.

 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Christine will be writing a guest post for this blog later this week and I will be giving away one copy of her book.  Be sure to check back for Christine’s wisdom and a chance to receive her latest book!

Prayer for This Week:Beginning Again (with audio!)

blog--2-19-13 (calendar)This week O God, we consider your great love and your promise of shalom.
We ponder the enormous love you expressed both on the cross and in the empty tomb. We celebrate your gift of shalom—right, whole relationship with you, with one another, with the world.

We praise you, O God.

But this week, O God, we consider our lack of love and lack of shalom.

We repent of our disregard for others who are not like us, who offend us, who disturb us. We regret our foolish decision to curse those we despise and love only those who love and agree with us.
We grieve our broken relationship with you, with one another, with the world.

Forgive us, O God.

This week, O God, we commit ourselves anew to following your way.
We intend to begin again to live our lives in your enormous love and great shalom.
We offer ourselves to you, to one another, to the world, for your good purposes.

We praise you and we celebrate your gift of shalom, O God. Amen.