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Archive for the ‘prayers’ Category

Day by day, you pour your love over us.
Day by day, you meet us with surprising grace.
Day by day, you speak the Word that
calls us deeper into your presence.

Yet, so often,
we wander through our days
oblivious to you
and to the ways you are working
in our midst.

In this time together,
we bring to you
the week that is past.

We bring to you
our tattered souls.

We bring to you
the deep longings
that haunt our spirits.

Take what we offer,
such as it is.
Move among us.
Open a space
where your reign of love
is welcomed with joy.

Silence the noise in our minds
that drowns out your Word.

Shelter us from the storms
that unsettle our lives.

Settle the clutter of worries
that crowd out your peace.

Then, awaken us to your Spirit’s work:
in our lives,
in our neighbours,
in our world.

Lead us to trust you more deeply,
even when we cannot see
the signs that you are with us.

We pray in the name of Jesus
who is your Word to us,
the Life we seek,
the Way we walk. Amen.

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A prayer for Trinity Sunday reflecting on Matthew 28: 16 -20

Out of our ordinary, everyday lives,
you have gathered us here, Holy God,
to this time of worship,
to this time of praise.

We join with angels and archangels
and all the company of the saints
to bless you,
to listen for your Word,
to immerse ourselves in your grace,
in your love.

Open our eyes,
our hearts,
our minds
to your presence with us.

Take the chaos of the world
that has found its way into our hearts —
speak your Word
and give order and form and new creation.

Take the failures and defeats,
the guilt and the shame
that bind our spirits —
speak your Word
and set us free.

Take our longings for your goodness
to shape our lives, this community,
the hurting world —
speak your Word
and infuse us with
your courage and
your hope and
your love.

Then, awaken us to your Holy Spirit
who is making all things new,
even us.

We ask in Jesus’ name
who sends us out to speak
love and mercy and grace
to those who are waiting
longing
hoping
for a sign
that they are not alone,
that you are a God of love,
that you are a Saviour who knows their name,
that the Holy Spirit is leading them home.

Amen.

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Bread of Life,
the Resurrection,
the Way,
the Truth:
with these names we praise you.

In such naming and praising
we set ourselves under your Truth.
In such naming and praising,
we set ourselves on your Way.
Then, we find that you are indeed
the Resurrection who leads us to new life.
You renew our strength
You send us out
as ambassadors of your grace and love.

For all your blessings,
so extravagantly given,
we praise your holy name.

Lord, our God,
you have made us
to live in communion with you.
You have promised that you
will be our strength,
our refuge,
a very present help in times of trouble.
You have promised that in company with Jesus
we shall find peace that passes understanding,
abundant life,
hope for the journey.

You know the questions
that fill our fears,
the worries
that cloud our sense of your presence with us.

We turn to you with them.
We ask you to take them.
Bless them with your powerful, transforming grace.
Break their grip on our hearts and minds.
Then give us your life and truth
so we may move into this week
full of courage
full of you.   Amen.

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“Thirsty Souls”

A sermon based on Exodus 17: 1-7

In a number of different contexts, I have been encouraging people to practice an ancient Christian tradition: lectio divina, or ‘holy reading’.

You take a passage of scripture and work through four steps with it. Here’s how I have described the steps:

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is a slow, contemplative praying of the scriptures. It helps us to listen deeply for God in the scriptures and engages us in conversation with the living God.

LectioRead the scripture passage  (or a portion of it, if it is long) slowly, preferably out loud. Do this several times (at least three times).  Pay attention to the words or phrases or images that speak to you.  Some unexpected word or phrase may emerge as you repeatedly read the passage.

MeditatioMeditate on the word or phrase that has drawn your attention as you read through the passage in the lectio stage. What thoughts, hopes, memories, desires, concerns, ideas come to mind?

OratioPray the word(s) or phrase(s) that you have been meditating on. Enter into an unhurried, loving conversation with God.  Interact with God as you would with one whom you know loves and accepts you. Offer to God the experiences that emerged in your meditation. Let the words or phrases from the scripture text speak to those experiences, with God’s healing grace.

ContemplatioRest in God’s presence, allowing yourself to receive God’s transforming love.

For many people, this is a different way of engaging the scriptures. As with any new skill or habit, people can feel uncomfortable with it. They tend to say, “I don’t get it”, or “I am not getting anything out of it”. When someone is learning to play the piano, it takes some time before they actually ‘hear the music’. When someone is first training to run in a long distance race, it takes some time before they find the rhythm. You learn to dance, to paint, to play baseball by making your way through a time period when you feel awkward.

Generally, we have been used to reading a passage of scripture in order to understand it. You ask, “What does this tell me about God or about Jesus or about how I should live the Christian life?” Some people get more serious about studying the Bible and seek to understand the historical background of a passage. What was the culture like when the story was happening? What did the words mean originally?

Other people, using the scriptures in their daily devotions, may approach a passage asking, “What does this tell me about prayer? about how I should treat my neighbour?” They stand back from the passage and figure out how it applies to their lives.

Many people have found these approaches helpful. However, a lot of people could not see how the Bible applied to their lives. There were some passages they just could not understand, no matter how much background information they got. Eventually, they gave up reading the Bible altogether.

Lectio divina does not invite you to understand the Bible. It invites you to stand under it. It says, “Do not step back from the scripture; step into it.” In lectio divina, you do not go to the scriptures to find out about God. You got to the scripture to encounter the living God, who is waiting to meet you there.

I encourage people to develop this practice because I am convinced that people do not first of all need to know more about God. They need first and foremost to know God. Years ago, I was at a workshop where the instructor asked someone, “Do you know the Shepherd’s Psalm?” The participant answered, “Yes, and I know the Shepherd too.”

We have thirsty souls: souls that are parched for the living God. Do you know what a thirsty soul feels like? When our throats are thirsty, they are dry and scratchy. When a soul is thirsty, it can feel like that deep yearning that hovers in the backgrIMG_3676ound of a busy life: a yearning that, when you stop long enough to attend to it asks, “Is this all there is?”

A thirsty soul can feel like a deep loneliness that does not go away, even when you have lots of family and friends.

In today’s Bible story, thirsty souls showed up in the midst of a crisis about having no water in a desert. The people were afraid and angry and feeling powerless. They turned on Moses because they needed someone to blame.

They turned to Moses, because that’s what we often do with our thirsty souls. We look for someone or something to fill the emptiness or to stop the loneliness. We think that it is someone or something that we are yearning for.

One of the elemental lessons to learn in your spiritual journey is that your deepest yearning, your deepest thirst is for the living God.

Somehow Moses knew that. When the people started complaining to him, he knew that he could not give them what they wanted. he know that only God could do that. So, he turned to god. He prayed a direct, honest prayer. He does not begin with polite or vaguely religious words. He launches into prayer: “What can I do with these people? Any minute now, they are going to kill me!” In other words, “This is your problem, God! Do something!”

Sometimes our prayers don’t go very deep because we are too polite with God. We only bring the surface stuff into our conversation with God — the places where we are still in control; the places where we still retain the illusion that we are in control. It is harder to trust God with the ugly parts of our life, with the broken places in our souls.

Even after God provides water for the people, Moses call the location “the place of quarrelling; the place of complaint”. This, too, is part of the journey. There will be places and times when our thirsty souls cry out, quarrelling with others, complaining about what we do not have. This story signals that even our quarrelling and complaining are invitations to encounter God. Even our brokenness and yearning and emptiness are invitations to place our whole lives in God’s hands.

Interestingly, when God answered Moses’ prayer, God provided water but, more importantly, God provides God’s own presence: “Go to the rock that you will strike with a rock and water will come out AND I will be standing there in front of you.”

God is not just ‘there’ to meet your needs and to answer your prayers. God is standing there in front of you, longing to enter into relationship with you; yearning to be in communion with you. In every part of your life, God is reaching out to be with you and to share God’s great love and grace and transforming power with you.

Do you believe that?

Brennan Manning was an author and public speaker who, often, would invite people to trust that deep love of God and to enter into it. In one talk, he says, “In the forty-eight years since I was first ambushed by Jesus in a little chapel in the Allegheny Mountains in western Pennsylvania, and then, in the literally thousands of hours of prayer and meditation, silence and solitude over those years, I am now utterly convinced that on judgement day, the Lord Jesus is going to ask us one and only one question: “Did you believe that I loved you, that I desired you; that I waited for you day after day; that is desired to hear your voice?”  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQi_IDV2bgM)

Do you believe that? That is what your soul is thirsty for. Jesus offers you himself — living water to quench your thirst. That is the invitation the lectio divina offers: an invitation into the heart of God’s love and God’s great longing for you.

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Blessed be your name, God of Life:
you have made this world and placed us in it.
We live and love and work and play in your good creation.

Blessed by your name, God of Hope:
when we destroy your good creation,
you move to rescue and redeem it,
surprising us with newness we did not expect.

Blessed be your name, God of Love:
you invite us into the life of your Son, Jesus,
to dance to the rhythms of your grace.

Wake us up to your presence, O God,
alive
active
powerfully creative
giving life that is stronger than death.

Give us eyes to see your reconciling work
and ears to hear your invitation to join in it
and hearts that turn away from the ways that do not give life.

Nudge us toward your holy mystery
and give us courage to trust your risky Way.

We ask these things in the name of Jesus
your Word made flesh
dwelling among us full of grace and truth;
and through the power of your Holy Spirit,
blowing where it will
with the energies of the age to come. Amen.

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A prayer based on Matthew 4: 12 -23

Call to Confession

We come into God’s presence with nothing but ourselves
and our attempts to follow Jesus in imperfect ways.
That is enough, because it is by God’s grace that we are saved, not by our own works.
God takes what we offer
and fills our emptiness with his redeeming power.
Let us open our lives to God’s good and holy work.

Prayers of Adoration and Confession

God of the Truth that sets us free,
God of hope that lifts us up,
God of the Life that sends us out,
you have set us in the midst of this community
to be a sign of your love
to witness to your truth
to offer a foretaste of your new creation.

We are unsure what it would take
to offer that love to the people we do not know,
to speak your truth in the midst of lies and hate,
to be the radical community of faith you need us to be.

You know us
through and through.
Yet, still, you choose us
to be ambassadors of Jesus’ Way
here and now
among the people
we meet day by day.

So, we ask you to send your Spirit among us;
clear our minds to hear your Word to us;
enlarge our vision to see where you
are already present and working;
overcome our fears
so that we do and say
what you need us to do and say
to draw other people into your
impossibly wondrous love and grace.

We ask in Jesus’ name
who summons us to leave what we know
and follow him on his Way.  Amen.

Assurance of God’s Grace

In your baptism,
God names you “a chosen race”,
“a royal priesthood”,
“God’s own people”,
“a colony of heaven”.
Be assured that God
gives you all you need
to be what God has made you.
Open yourself to the Holy Spirit
and let God guide you
each day as you seek to
follow in Jesus’ Way.

The peace of Christ be with you.

.

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God of hope,
you promise peace and joy and unfailing love.

We wait for you, Lord,
our souls wait
with deep yearning
for you to act
to bring hope to lives
that are caught in despair,
to make peace in cities
wounded by so much violence,
to move us toward joy and love.

You are more patient with us
than we are with you, Lord.
You work in our hearts
and our minds
and our spirits,
changing us in deep places
so we become the place
where your hope and peace and joy and love
can come to birth.

Give us grace
to slow down enough
to pay attention
to the work you are doing in us
and among us.

Give us grace
to face the hard truths
that make a way
for your transforming power
and healing presence.

Give us grace
to yield to you.

We pray in the name of Jesus
who has set us on this Way of Life.

Amen.

 

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