Prayers for the Road II

The Village Church 12-3-17

When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  ‘Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:7-10

On the road that you speak into from ahead

Where are you Lord?
We ask this when we are desperate
We also ask this when we doubt
Where are you Lord that we might pray to you?

But you invite a different posture from us… daring us to ask:
Where are you Lord that we might pray with you?

And the answer is in the question ‘with’
in order to be with you, you have to be here already,
to be with you means we are to join into something already happening

You link us into your cry of love for the world
You prompt us from ahead
Your kingdom coming – not from behind like a fast train knocking us off the tracks
But from ahead – towards us…

You ahead
Coming for us
Coming in love
Linking us into your creative works

On the road we find you are already here
Thus there is no where you are not – never

Knowing that you know
we ponder what we might say
We don’t need to prompt you…
maybe you are prompting us…

We listen…

We hear the cries of our world…

This planet groaning under the weight of our carelessness…
The poor who simply want a fair share of earth’s abundance…

The dispossessed seeking home…
The suffering seeking release…
The greedy needing enlightenment…

We listen…

We hear you speaking restoration, renewal, love, healing, peace, and light
We hear you calling us and people like us to live into your future present…
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Hear our prayers…

We ask them in the name of the One
who prays to the Father in the power of the Spirit,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

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We are sought – a prayer

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“…the Church bows before that God whom we did not seek and find
– who rather has sought and found us.” ― Karl Barth, Credo

We come, O God, at Your bidding
into Your presence we come,
but only because You have already made Yourself present

We have not and cannot conjure You
as if You are our plaything
You are who You are,
it is for us to find our place
in the space You make for us
and out of Your love,
You make such a space.
Bless you!

We are not the hosts, You are
We are not in charge, You are

We may try to switch you on and off
depending on our moods and whims and perceived needs
But you have chosen Your ‘Yes’ to us anyway
– a constant and faithful yes
We are the receivers, of Your ‘Yes.’
Bless you!

You give, You invite, You receive
You host, You forgive, You restore
You feed, You comfort, You bless.
Bless you!

You come among us, you live for us
You suffer for us, you suffer with us
You stand for us that we may grow
You stand against anything that might diminish us.
Bless you!

You bless us
and those not like us
You ask us to bless one another,
and those not like us

You announce freedom
You denounce what enslaves

You inspire, you challenge
You hold the world in love
You call the world to love as you love
Bless you!

This is all too much,
yet it is everything we need

You have chosen to be with us
We choose to be with you.
Bless you!

Bless this hour.
Bless these people.
Bless us that we may bless
in Your name and for Your sake

In the Father, for the Father, with the Father,
In the Spirit, for the Spirit, with the Spirit
In Christ, for Christ, with Christ
you bless us – every last one of us

and we, with what we can muster,
but especially with what you enable,
we, in turn, bless you!
Amen
“I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10

Prayers for the Road I

Prayers for The Road
The Village Church 5-3-17

“The primary purpose of prayer is not to make requests. The primary purpose is to praise, to sing, to chant. Because the essence of prayer is a song, and man [sic] cannot live without a song. Prayer may not save us. But prayer may make us worthy of being saved.” ― Abraham Joshua Heschel, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays

The Prayer

We’re on the road with you God
We know it
We want it
You make it
You bless it
We enjoy it – mostly!

We give thanks for the wonders of the road
the daily rhythms
the encounters
the love
the sensations
the delights

We hold before you the distresses of the road
the losses
the fears
the heartache
the brokenness
the suffering
the imbalances
the greed
the violence
the selfishness

that you meet us in these places is our blessing
that you call your world to freedom is our hope
and we pray into that hope today

We hold before you the unknown road ahead,
actually, you hold before us the unknown road ahead,
the mystery of tomorrow
the challenges
the opportunities
the imagination
the daring
the richness
and even that which will break our hearts

for you call from ahead
and meet us in the middle
you never load us with more than we can bear
and you promise life in its fullness

Thus with confidence we can make our prayers
in the name of you the maker, the teacher, and the prompter.  Amen

We Receive – a prayer

castle-hill

To receive each day is an invitation…each of us is an artist of our days 

John O’Donohue Benedictus p203-4

The Prayer by Martin Stewart

We receive
Giver of Life, we receive from you
Often without gratitude
Often as if entitled
But you give, and give, and give

Bless you!

Bless you for this unfolding day
its rhythms and surprises
its challenges and its delights
Bless you in this day

Bless you for the One who walked among us
and alerted us to your kingdom come
so alive and free
an artist of fearlessness
Bless you for his wide-eyed wonder
and the room he made for people like us

Bless you for Jesus with us still in this unfolding day
its rhythms and surprises
its challenges and its delights
Bless you in this day

Bless you for your Spirit presence
creating in us the artistry of soulfulness
alerting us, prodding us, inspiring us,
moulding us in your image
Bless you for the scent, the colour,
and the play of your attendance in everything

Bless you for your Spirit with us still in this unfolding day
its rhythms and surprises
its challenges and its delights
Bless you in this day.

We know we have become lessened
by what we have done or not done
We have also become lessened
by what has been done or not done to us
You have no need of our diminishment
nor do we
You are only interested in our restoration
so are we
And your word to us is life
food for the soul
release from captivity
light in our eyes
and hope in our days.

We receive
Giver of Life,
we receive from you with gratitude

Bless you!

Amen

Advent Prayer

Here is a prayer I have prepared for Advent Sunday tomorrow…

Introduction:
It is Advent Sunday – we start the Christian year again
With Advent is the invitation to deeper engagement
What has been said before will be said again,
but with two significant differences:
firstly, the world is not as it was before
– it is better and it is worse, that is the nature of the world;
and secondly, we haven’t been who we are before
– we are always at the edge of growing,
and deepening our engagement with the dynamics of God’s grace at work in us…

so we pray

As the late spring winds blow
and test the hold that the new leaves have on the branches,
so God we invite your spirit-presence into our lives
and the lives of those about us.

God we do not seek you as a comfort-blanket under which we can hide,
no, we invite your turbulent love to sweep over us
and this land, and this world in need.

Stir us, enliven us, engage us,
that in this season of Advent
we will hear again, as if for the first time,
of your invitation to live the transformed life.

You come in Jesus Christ.
We come in response.

You call us to life in all its fullness.
But we confess that we almost always respond in our own way,
from our places of comfort and resistance, and consequently,
with lowered expectations of what your fullness can be.

Forgive us, we pray,
forgive us for the way that we so often hear your call
and so often have our hearts stirred,
but before too long we have resorted to our old habits
and given into our divided loyalties.

We invite your turbulent love to sweep over us.
We invite your Living Word to stop us in our tracks.
We invite your Spirit-presence into the corridors of our resistance
to blow away the dust and cobwebs of our fear-filled patterns of life,
that we might hear the call from the deep
and respond anew with vigour and passion,
to the story of you, O God, living among us full of grace and truth.

And this is God’s word to us… from 2 Corinthians 5:17
“… if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

This is what God pronounces for us.
This is the life that God creates in us.
This is the promise that comes to us today in Jesus Christ.
And God’s Spirit enables us to live into this new creation.

God, hear us as we hear your call
and respond in love as a forgiven and renewed people,
in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Our last remembering

I wrote the following poem a few weeks ago for the funeral of a woman from the Bryndwr part of The Village Church – thus some of the specifics come from her story.  I wrote it as an imaginative exercise as I thought about the flash of memory that seems to be a common element in the experience of dying – at least that is what those who didn’t quite die tell us!

The invitation for those of us who remain, I suggest, is to accumulate memories for that final flash of memory.  Continue reading

Decommissioning Prayer

I have been asked several times lately if I have a liturgy for the closure of a church building.  In many traditions the prayer of closing a building is described as reconsecrating – in the Presbyterian tradition we only commission a building for a purpose and decommission it when the time comes for it to be moved on.

This does seem to be a season of moving on.  The decline of many traditional expressions of church life has led to the letting go of church buildings.   Continue reading