Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lent 37

Praise to the One who gives birth to a new day!
My Mother
My Creator
My God

Praise to the One who calls us on the journey!
My Teacher
My Brother
My Savior

Praise to the One who surprises our spirits with life!
My Sustenance
My Courage
My Joy

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lent 36

Jesus: I would like to register a complaint,
because I do not know how to pray about money
and you have not helped; just consider the implications
of money lessons from your last days in Jerusalem:

I could get into the idea of overturning the table
on which I sort out my bills and balance the books,
and then pray in tranquility atop the paper piles;
but is this what you really meant in the temple?

Is money yours or is it Caesar's (and why can't it be mine)?
The church teaches that money is a "talent" belonging to you
but Washington's face is on it...and Lincoln's, and Jackson's.
No one drew your face there, because you said "no false images."

Dare I risk having you watch over my offerings and my spending
as you once watched people's donations to the treasury?
Are two copper coins enough? Are large sums enough?
Shall I give everything that I have to live on? (Please say no.)

Help me discern, Jesus, why an expensive anointing of oil
is a better gift to you than three hundred denarii to the poor?!
When are we "allowed" to splurge (and on whom), and why
would you even suggest that it's okay to take the poor for granted?

May I venture one more question, Jesus?

When a handful of silver coins is the nominal fee for a life
and the give-and-take of clothes is a gambling game for profit,
how can I possibly not "get it" that money has the capacity both
for brutality and for blessing . . . and so do I?

The good news that you preached was never about money
but I suspect that you talked $$ because that's what people knew;
that's what people know and that's the language of our world.
Help me to speak and live your good news in the world's language.

Tracing these stories through the Gospel of Mark: overturned tables (Mark 11:15-17), taxes to Caesar (Mark 12:13-17); widow's offering (Mark 12:41-44); a woman anoints Jesus (Mark 14:3-9); casting lots for Jesus' clothes (Mark 15:24).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lent 35

I pray for the courage to live extravagantly
as Jesus did in his last days:

speaking the truth boldly
and calling out lies;

inviting wasteful giving
and giving wastefully;

discerning the ways of death
and pursing life at all cost;

daring to commit to a choice
and praying all the way.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come with burnt offerings?
Will the LORD be pleased with rivers of oil?

God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

May I bring not only palm branches in praise this day,
but also the palms of my hands in service to you.
Let my offerings of "Hosanna!" be paired with
my commitment, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Micah 6:6-8, adapted

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lent 34

"Be single-minded in heart and action,"
thus saith the LORD.

O God of my father, O God of my mother,
O storied God who has pursued us in love for generations:
I confess that I am scattered,
highly unfocused -- so unlike you!
My love is intermittent, my mood variable,
and I am pulled apart for lack of direction.

Call me to task! Set my feet on your path!
Let all of my life be focused in love on you.
Take my "to do" list and my busyness,
and give me the vision to discern if they are part of your work;
take even -- ah, can I say it truly? -- my family
and let our collective life be caught up in your life.

I do not know if I can pray it honestly,
but: Put me to the test. See if I am following you.
Then set out a signpost if I need to be called in new direction.

"Be single-minded in heart and action." -- Jeremiah 32:39, NIV

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lent 33

Ground of All Being:

Let my feet be grounded
wiggled into the cold earth
to sense roots that stretch and connect
to feel growth and movement of life

Let my feet be grounded
so that my praise comes up from my toes
and my mourning digs deep through my heels
and my intercessions arch from the balls of my feet

Let my feet be grounded
planted firmly in these mountains and valleys
aware of the dirt, not escaping with a pie in the sky
blessed by the earth, blessed by the grounding

Ground of All Being,
let my feet be grounded.

"Ground of All Being" is an image/theology of God that was developed by Paul Tillich.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lent 32

I delight to seek your face and know your ways,
O God, my Rock and my Eternal Hope,
to find you in love and in conversation,
to sense your nearness through pain and healing.
I give thanks for moments of clarity and vision;
when faced with the unknown,
I wait patiently for you.
Let my soul reflect the deep joy of the trees
as they clap their hands unceasingly;
in the midst of trouble,
let my spirit rejoice in the eternal/already good news,
testifying by saying:
"God is in all and through all and above all;
even now, God has finished my troubles."
How beautiful is your path!
How sweet is the journey!
I come to the end...I am still with you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lent 31

I cry out in despair "Oh my God!"
for the tears of your children
and the sobs of the frightened;
is that rising wail of sorrow
the sound of others' lament
or my own voice against the pillow?

I have lost you amongst the clouds---
where is the One who saved Isaac and Ishmael?---
there is no sign of you even among the stars.
How long must children collapse in starvation
before you replenish the jars of meal and oil,
before you hold them close and renew their breath?

Our demons have turned on our children
and we are too busy pursuing our own sins,
too busy with our childish wars and dogmas
to make space for reconciliation, or faith;
so preoccupied with our convictions of hell
that we have neglected to practice heaven.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lent 30

Perhaps I have lied to myself about how much one person can do, how much one person is meant to do: striving forward as though my own spirit is strong enough, has self-contained vision enough, to create holiness each and every day.

So I repent of aspiring to be a god (or goddess, with flowing divine robes, killer looks, fearsome cunning, and prowess in archery...oh, I'd be a cool goddess!). I repent today, and I know that I will be repenting again tomorrow.

Let me strive not to be brilliant in multitasking, but deliberate in a single task: like the robin who does not try to inspire the sun's rising by single-handedly performing nature's full symphony, but simply sings her own triplets truly and repeatedly, content to be one voice.

Yes, let me be one bird, one voice, and faithfully so: in this day, in this work, in this life. To your glory, not my own.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lent 29

You have saturated this day
with the beauty of your stillness,
O Whispering Spirit,
if I but stop to look
if I but stop to sit and breathe.
Oh! how your sweet perfume is in the rain!
How your dress sways with the willow's green branches!
There is a vibrance about you,
O Beautiful Spirit,
and it warms the day's cool air;
it invites me to bask in your life
and move slowly in your presence.
My mind and body are coaxed into the quiet
even as my heart bursts with a hymn of praise!
You are the joy for my song
and the delight of my soul,
O Gentle, Holy Spirit.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jesus, Lover of my soul,
hold me close in sweet embrace!

Comfort my spirit,
sing & caress me to sleep,
wait by my side for the dawn's arrival,
Holy Lover of mine.

My Sun and Moon,
My Daily Surrender,
My Constant Companion!

Original hymn text of "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" by Charles Wesley (1740).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lent 28

O Holy Heartache,
O Open Wound,
I come to you afresh with pain:
bleeding, sore, and tired.
Will you knit flesh back together,
or will you say "This pain is my presence"?

O Holy Heartache,
O Open Wound,
I have prayed without ceasing for strength,
battled in pursuit of confident faith.
Do not tell me that I have been wrong,
that holiness is in the vulnerability.

O Holy Heartache,
O Open Wound,
I long to find you in the hurt
so that you will carry me to healing;
yet you have confined me instead
to this wilderness of heartache.

O Holy Heartache,
O Open Wound,
I am disquieted to discover your weakness,
discouraged that "getting better" may not be the goal.
Be my solace amidst the unknown;
give me courage to keep bleeding.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lent 27

Sarah laid back her head and laughed
to find the holy in the ridiculous,
and I give the Spirit praise for divine humor:

Praise for the dried-out breast that can suckle new life!
Praise for the mystery of cells rebuilding and healing!
Praise that wholeness is always built out of brokenness!
Praise for the absurdity of an awkward heron in flight!
Praise in the dance that will one day defeat all wars!
Praise for the impossibility that bread & wine create a body!
Praise for the resurrection of laughter rising from a weary soul!

With my grin behind my hand, I read Sarah's tale
and I remember my own life's tall tale
...and I laugh and laugh and laugh.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lent 26

Just as I am
let grace suffice;
may body, mind, & soul
be blessed.
Through cracked vessel
Living Water flow.
By Spirit's breath,
oh! make me whole.

Original "Just As I Am" hymn text by Charlotte Elliott (1836).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lent 25

Save us!
Do not hold back any longer, almighty Deliverer!
Sweep over our hardened hearts like the Red Sea;
for we have neglected to care for children in sexual bondage,
we have abandoned justice for the detained immigrant,
we have forgotten the death row inmate and lost the key.
Save us!
Pursue our gilded chariots, holy Pillar of Fire!
Let our wheels be mired in the sins of money and power
so that the seas overtake us with complete & merciless salvation.
Then we will sing praises to the Warrior who destroys our strength,
to the One who gains glory when we remember that God is LORD.
Save us!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lent 24

You are a beautiful surprise!**

Waking in the morning, I sigh as I stretch, certain that the day cannot be as delicious as the restful warmth of my bed...and then I step outside to the delightfully crisp cool air of spring, to the sight of sunny pinks stretching against the deep blues of clouds on the eastern horizon.

You are a beautiful surprise!

Walking the day's paces, I glance over the deadened greens of grass that barely survived the winter, lacking signs of renewal...and my eye catches the fresh blue-greens of clustered daffodil shoots pressing upward from the cold ground.

You are a beautiful surprise!

My mind lingers over yesterday's conversations, interactions, exchanges, feeling disappointed as I expect yesterday's relationship dynamics to taint today's...yet here is a smile, there is a pleasantry and an unexpected kindness, in others and in myself, and I am confounded again by the miracle of interpersonal grace.

You are a beautiful surprise!

**"Beautiful Surprise" is a song title by India.Arie, on her album Voyage To India.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lent 23

My soul is blessed and satisfied.

Shall the rain overshadow my day?
No, the showers will renew me with cool drops of grace.

Will others frustrate or drive my impatience?
No, I will see your beauty and your face in all persons.

Will details distract or discourage me?
No, each task will provide opportunity for living deliberately.

My soul is blessed and satisfied.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Forgive me for my lack of patience.
Forgive me for my inability to be still.
Forgive my body's failure to keep up with my intentions...
...and my intentions' deception of my body's limits.
Forgive me when I forget to breathe.
Forgive me for losing sight of you.
Forgive my relationship foibles and failures.
Forgive my hubris and my self-reliance.
Forgive me for not keeping up...
...and for not slowing down.
Forgive my limits in love and grace.
Forgive me for fracturing in so many directions.
Forgive me when I fall apart.
Forgive me. Forgive me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lent 22

In a bargaining mood
I pray to GOD:

let things change
that I may have my way;

shift hurdles from the track
and I will promise to run forever;

ease my stress and angst
that I may dance with joy;

turn these stones to bread
and I will doubt no more;

save me from wandering and free will
and show me the singular path to take;

spare me the bitter cup
and let me savor the feast.

Surely, o my GOD, you are God enough to do it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lent 21

Seep into me, Living God,
like flood waters seep into the ground.
Seep into me, Holy and Living God.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lent 20

I sing for the church
who has lost her voice:

charities abandoning children
in the name of family values;

abuses overlooked and downplayed
for the sake of power and position;

pretty pews, well-manicured lawns,
the sterilization of the Kingdom of God;

arguments over abortion echoing through marble halls
while war rages and rape reigns and hatred festers;

yet on Sunday mornings, our praises remain undisturbed
within our decorated walls and sanctified spaces.

O God my God, tell me that this is not your Body,
that these ridiculous voices are not your Voice!

O Refining Spirit, wail like Mother Eve for her lost children:
the child too soon silenced and the child too quickly condemned!

O Table-throwing Christ, disturb your Church to sing a new song
of border crossing and demon healing and nation defying!

Like a lion roaring in hunger, open our mouths wide
to thunder against power and complacency!

Let holy rage feast upon the rage of death
until Life is the only song on our lips.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lent 19

Keep me connected today, God With Us.

Connect me to the person on my left, the person on my right. Help me to authentically engage the person before me, to listen well and gently, to be fully present. Keep me connected in prayer and spirit to those who are out of sight: children and friends, colleagues and siblings, strangers even, so that I do not plow through the day as a solo driver.

Connect me to myself today: mind, body and soul. Help me give myself the grace to feel the fatigue and stress across my shoulders, the soreness of my feet...the mindfulness to feed the warm embers of spirit, the curiosities and ideas of mind...and the integrity to be a whole person in work, in play, in rest.

Connect me to the holy, to you. Let me not separate any moment from your presence or your activity. Help me to pray and sing and praise and lament through the course of the day: as I receive news, as world events unfold, as paths meet and diverge, as emotions rise and fall, as I walk and drive and listen and act and breathe.

Keep me connected today, God With Us.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lent 18

Bless the LORD, my soul!
Bless the LORD, o my troubled soul!

As the earth trembles and quakes,
bless the LORD
who forgets not the devastated and the orphaned.
Bless the LORD, my soul,
and quake in your daily comforts.

As death and violence defy the renewal of life in spring,
bless the LORD
who knows the secret of breathing life into dry bones.
Bless the LORD, my soul,
and be rattled by the Spirit to challenge systemic violence.

As the sick and the poor and the discouraged are bypassed
on the road to big business and big military and big money,
bless the LORD
who stands with the widow and the accused and the bleeding out.
Bless the LORD, my soul,
and choose your path carefully before passing by.

Bless the LORD, my soul!
Bless the LORD, o my troubled soul!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lent 17

With the pinholes of starlight in the deep night sky, I sing:
How great is our God!

With the bright half-moon, still awake as the sun rises, I sing:
How great is our God!

With the whisper of a kernel of a bud on the oak tree, I sing:
How great is our God!

With the shifting streams of hundreds of clamoring geese, I sing:
How great is our God!

With the carefree peal of laughter of children living in the moment,
I sing: How great is our God!

How great is our God!
How great is our God!

With a new day before me, the created world around me, and
the cloud of witnesses above me, I sing: How great is our God!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Third Sunday of Lent

O Holy Irony,

In death you are life.

In blood you are blessing.

In diversity you are one body.

In disorder you are sanctuary.

In desolation you are abundance.

In bread you are beautiful.

In doubt you are faith.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lent 16

I look for you in my own little world: in the blue dome and encircling horizons, in the familiar routes and routines, in my self-contained snow globe of life sitting on the tourist shop shelf. Many days I am content to find you there in the swirling joy, content to move within my bubble, content to keep you in my microcosm.

Yet (risking that you might really do this) I pray: Break open my world. Knock my snow globe off the shelf so that it bursts into pieces, and all that is pretty and neat spills out, and the horizons are lost... and I discover where you truly are.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lent 15

For the mystery of healing
I pray:
Lord, have mercy.

For the daydream of peace
I pray:
Christ, have mercy.

For the fairness and fullness of life
I pray:
Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lent 14

O Dynamic Spirit,
let me find you in every moment of interaction.

O Indwelling Spirit,
let me find you in every stillness within myself.

O Breathing Spirit,
let me find you in every action of lovingkindness.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lent 13

In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise,
give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus! Give me Jesus!
You can have all this world,
give me Jesus.

And when I am alone,
When I am alone,
When I am alone,

give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus! Give me Jesus!
You can have all this world,
give me Jesus.

When I come to die,
When I come to die,
When I come to die,

give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus! Give me Jesus!
You can have all this world,
give me Jesus.

(Readers will forgive me if today I pray through words that are not my own. Sometimes our souls' cries are best expressed through song. This spiritual has long been a favorite of mine, and it reflects the Lenten spirit: to follow Jesus, come what may. I invite you to take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful recording of Give Me Jesus. [An aside: I'm certain that I've sung this choral arrangement of the spiritual, back once upon a time in my singing days in choirs.] Be blessed and encouraged today!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lent 12

Hear my prayer, O Lord

I am poured out today
Weak at the knees
And gasping for breath

Hear my prayer, O Lord

Death flaunts at every corner
Life's protest is feeble
Friends hide away in fear

Hear my prayer, O Lord

How long must I be bent over
How long will fatigue win
Before you renew my song of hope?

Hear my prayer, O Lord

Do not be far away when I need you
Bend your ear to hear my cries
Walk with me through this death to living waters

Hear my prayer, O Lord

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lent 11

be kind, o god
kind and loving
for this is what people say about you

be gentle, el olam
gentle and quick with healing
do not spoil your reputation on earth

be present, emmanuel
present and encouraging of new life
fail not the generations who have testified to you

be strong, jehovah jireh
strong and on-fire for justice
redress corrupt power to reveal your authority

El Olam (Everlasting God), Genesis 21:33
Emmanuel (God With Us), Matthew 1:23
Jehovah Jireh (The LORD Will Provide), Genesis 22:14