Great Spirit of Life,
Let us come together in prayer and calm our minds from the busyness of the week and listen quietly to the still, small, voice that speaks of our needs and the needs of others. Bring into the silence our hopes and dreams and the courage to face the challenges and barriers on our journey through this wonderful life.
Please bring into our hearts those among us who are dealing with both exciting and challenging changes in their lives. Changes in health, the loss of a loved one, the adjustments to a new job, a new love or family member or even a new driver’s license. Remind us that some lessons are painful, some are painless, but all are priceless.
I for one am thankful for the courage and humanity shown by Michele Obama for the epic speech she delivered this week.
Our road can be long and windy with quite a few forks in the road. Help us select our thoughts to make even the uphills feel great. Let’s accept the wrong turns and have the patience to discover that we will find ourselves back on the road again. Oh, and when the past calls, we’ll let it go to voicemail and remember to smile and enjoy the journey.
Back against the rough barn
Prayer slips over small garden plots
Urging me to pocket
The honey wagon of texts and tweets
And see the beauty before me.
Nature, not Emerson’s, but my own
Dancing corn-colored sunflowers,
A perched hawk above my head, and
Codman’s white donkey munching dry grass.
Crop-empty gardens harvest the wrong puzzle;
“Why is it over so soon?”
“How am I doing with this life?”
The question is straightforward yet
My search twists and swirls like the bark of a catalpa tree
While the sinking sun shades the prayer a deeper green,
Highlighting red autumn leaves
Until I discover
The answer is in the question.
With an Eeyore bray
The donkey mocks my slowness
The hawk lifts away
Leaving the stillness of a great spirit
Offering grace in the smallest of nature’s gifts
Great Spirit of Life,
As we come together in prayer, let us embrace the spirit of new beginnings and reflect about our lives today. For some, we are closing an old chapter and beginning anew. May we renew our energy, sharpen our vision and restore our patience as we find the direction to be our best and to open our hearts to a spirit of love and connection.
Help us to live from a place of gratitude. We are thankful for this spiritual community and to all those who lead us with their enthusiasm, confidence, and inspiration.
May we always find ways to reach out to those in need and help in any way we can.
- Please bring into our hearts and pray for all those among us who need to feel the warmth of love in their lives. Help them to build friendships and to find love.
- Give hope to those who are struggling, in poor health or low in spirit.
- Please give comfort to those who are grieving.
- Create safe haven to those who suffer the attacks of others. Give them the courage to stand up for what is right, and keep them safe from injustice and harm.
- And, help us all to know that we are more than we know.
Great Spirit of Life, may we rise to meet the challenges of a new church year with greater awe and gratitude and with deeper kindness and acceptance. Help us to question our own assumptions and listen with an open mind and have more courageous acts of conviction so that we may create a kinder, more equitable and sustainable world. Amen
With all our hearts and with all our minds, we offer prayers, silent and spoken. We pray together with gratitude for our many blessings, and we ask for your help where we have fallen short, and for those in need of our love.
Dear God, hear our prayers
For the good earth, and for the wisdom and will to conserve it, for seasonable weather,
for rain to renew drought stricken lands, and for healthy sustainable food.
Dear God, hear our prayers
For those who are infirm, suffering or alone, for poor and oppressed peoples, for prisoners and captives, and for all who remember to care for them.
Dear God, hear our prayers
For our clergy, and all people dedicated to working on reconciliation among fractured communities here and abroad. For local and national leaders, may they strive for civility and humanity.
Dear God, hear our prayers
For all who have died, may their souls shine down. For loving-kindness, and for the unity of all peoples.
That we may live our lives intentionally with faith and hope, and the peace of God that passes all understanding. Amen.
As summer draws its final breath, Summer warmth and light begins to wane
We soak up the last bit of sun’s warmth. Let us take a last sip and taste all the adventures of
summer. Help us remember and meditate with the memories of the lazy summer days: basking in the late afternoon sun with the warm breeze.
Fall is slowly stretching in
The chill air is painting the hills and trees with its brush with color
As the leaves transform, change color and fall to the ground, they tell their story of the past year and
blanket the earth preparing us for the upcoming colder months. The trees slowly become exposed as the leaves fall off making them more vulnerable.
Help us to take a deep, slow and cleansing breath as we plunge back into the schedule of fall. Let us carry a fallen leaf from summer with us as we sprint into our fall schedules to help remind us of quieter, slower moments. Let us bask in the glory of the warm sun, the crisp air, the cooler evenings and the color transformations of the trees.
Just like the leaves changing color and falling from the trees, our church is changing in preparation for renovation. Just like the fallen leaves tell their story of the past year, the church shares all the rich and wonderful memories and
history that were created over the many years. As we start rebuilding, we are very lucky to be blanketed by the Stone Church and First Parish community. We are not exposed or vulnerable like the fall/winter trees but an ever transforming and evolving sanctuary and community. Help guide us and remind us to be patient through these transformational and seasonal times. Teach us to see the beauty of these changes.
Lastly remind us to be grateful for
this space of quietude, this moment to slow down,
for our rich history of the two churches.
And for the protected blanket of this community and Stone Church as we go through the renovation.
Water Communion Prayer
It is that time of our coming together again. From near and far we are here to create a place for reflection, inquiry, for singing, for peace and community.
We have also come here today bringing water from many places. We never question the availability of our right to clean, fresh water.
But there are some in our larger community who are dealing with that right now.
Great spirit of us all please help us to affirm the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to protect their water and areas of sacred ground that could be compromised by the oil pipeline that would run just north of the border of their lands.
Please help them find a peaceful solution to this conflict. Water is Life. May it always and everywhere be protected and safe and free.
Finally, God, thank you for giving us this sacred space to worship in while our beloved church down the hill is being renewed. The walls and windows here are beautiful and I hope we will fill it each week with a loving and diverse community to speak and sing in Your presence. May it be so. Amen.
Thank you for this moment to be together this morning.
Thank you for a quiet pause in our week, for shared community and peaceful reflection.
Moments of holiness are all around us and when we stop to look and listen, they are easy to find. Birdsong in the early morning, a symphony of cicadas in the August night, an evening swim in a pond, a trip with family, a riveting book or funny movie, spectacular Olympic athletes, visiting a loved who is home bound.
As summer slowly winds down, we enjoy a few more weeks of warmth and sun, we celebrate drops of rain and hope for more to quell the drought, and we are braced for the coming hastened pace of September.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here and now, to embrace our neighbors and friends, and send healing energies to those in need both near and far.
And thank you for helping us to find holiness in the ordinary and everyday. Amen
Dear Lord, or is it?
Oh Lord not again!
We’ve been sucker punched out of our
Post-racial America fantasy
Our “Miss Congeniality” quest for world peace
Flies at perpetual half-mast
The jackals of evil and opportunism
Great spirit on this mid-summer morning
We struggle to keep faith that the light of good will
Drives out darkness
We invite you to
Remind us of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s resolution
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
Only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
Only love can do that.”
Lord hear our prayers
Renew our trust in the confidence of Pope Francis’s prophecy,
“Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful
Lord hear our prayers
Fortify us in Eleanor Roosevelt’s certainty that
“The future belongs to those who believe
In the beauty of their dreams.”
Lord hear our prayers that we all may remain dreamers. Amen.
A good friend of mine gave me an amaryllis bulb over the winter. I placed it in my bedroom so that every morning and every evening I could observe its long stem reaching to the ceiling with its bloom at its tip. I marveled at how the stem looked so strong and firm in its pot.
One night my 3 year old grabbed the stem and snapped it. It hadn’t bloomed yet and I was saddened by its destruction. At that point I did what anyone would have done. I googled what to do. There was no guarantee but if I place the stem in water it might hopefully bloom. To my amazement, it kept right on surviving and soon the bloom appeared.
Even more encouraging, leaves started growing off the bulb and then shortly after a new stem formed and it too bloomed.
When I’m finally in my new home I’ll plant that bulb and when it blooms I will be reminded that no matter how bleak things may seem, there is always life to be lived. All one needs is hope, love and caring to begin anew.
Loving and Gracious God, God who is my rock and my shelter, I come before you today completely shattered. I come before you feeling lost and afraid. I come before you in all of my imperfection, in all of my pain, in my anger, in my disillusionment, in my fear. I come before you with questions, with accusations, with distrust, with grief. Last week, 49 of my queer siblings were killed. Just taken. Just like that. 49 people who I never met, but who forever became a part of my life. So many of them were young, just barely beginning to live their lives. It doesn’t matter how old they were or weren’t, they all had families and friends and goals and complications and lives. Until they didn’t. And they were killed by one man, but also they were killed by many. We’ve become complacent and our values have gone askew. For some reason, we think that the gun lobby is more important than the estimated 91 lives that are lost to gun violence each day. 91 people per day. But guns have become our golden calf and we will not tolerate any talk about changes.
Golden calf. An image shared by all of the Abrahamic faiths. These faiths, God, these faiths ground American culture in ways that we don’t even see anymore. I may have wandered from the fundamentalist faith in which I was raised, but I can never not be from that community. I was steeped in the rhetoric of hate and justification of violence, and useless platitudes like “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I have worked so hard to de-colonize my mind and love myself wholly as I wholly am, but there will always be that voice in the back of my head that tells me that I am not good enough, that I am not truly one of yours, that I have no right to stand in a pulpit. Here again, today, I renounce that voice and I ask you to protect me from the sting with in starts to whisper to me. Help me to find the peace within that I so desperately need, that all of us need. We made organized religion, not you. And we have made it another golden calf that can’t bear scrutiny. Things that can’t bear scrutiny stink of lies. God of all that is and ever will be, help us to become truthful and call hate by its own name, and not by yours.
And I know, Dear One, that today is also Father’s Day. My own father died a few months ago, and I knew that today was going to be hard. But I didn’t know it was going to be this hard. The grief that has come to rest on this day is enormous. And so I ask for a reminder today that life does indeed go on. Little by little, I need to see reminders of the good that this world is still so very full of. I need to feel the compassion, strength, patience, wisdom, humor, and pride that I know my father had for me. I think we all need to feel that today. Let us find ways to cling to each other and say “This doesn’t make sense.” And give us the ears to hear you say, “I know, Little One. But it’s going to be okay anyway.” Amen.
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers and decided to go forward anyway.”
Universe, why have you let me down?
What is it that you want from me?
Is this my karma?
Is this a test?
Am I passing?
What more do you need to teach me?
What more do I need to understand?
Am I strong enough?
I’m afraid I might not be.
I wake up.
I hug my kids.
I go to work.
I meet with friends and family.
I fill the spaces in and around myself with love and kindness.
I feel held up and cared for.
I survive and I keep going.
I find I am strong enough.
Let us all find the courage in our darkest and hardest of times to move past the pain and get back to love and joy. Amen.
As we allow the gaze of our eyes to soften, and our thoughts to become quiet, we open our hearts to the loving light of your presence.
On this blessed morning we give special thanks for all the children joining us in worship.
May the children feel how much we love them.
May the children know how much we value them for all they bring to our congregation…their wisdom; their opinions; their unique perspective; and their questions.
Let us remember God, that we are all connected. That we are all responsible, through our thoughts, our words, and our actions, to make the children of our world community feel honored and cherished; nurtured and safe.
And yet, it is not always easy Lord, to choose the right path with our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
Every day God, I fall short in some small way, and sometimes in really big ways.
I say mean things to people I care about.
I withhold kindness without thinking.
I remain silent when I should speak up.
I choose the wrong things to pay attention to.
I stay mad for too long.
I make judgments.
Lord, we are all imperfect humans, trying to do the best we can. Forgive us for our human mistakes. Send us a cool hand of mercy to soothe our regrets. Help us to see the eternal light of goodness in ourselves and in each and every person. Help us stay willing to recognize when we could have done better. Help us to remember we have the power to make new choices each day, in the spirit of love and compassion.
May it be so. Amen.
Great Spirit, residing so fully within us here on Earth – and everywhere else we may someday visit: Hear our humble prayers.
On Memorial Day weekend we commemorate all those who have been lost through the violence of armed conflict. Today is also the birthday of JFK; “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” JFK’s life and service were cut short by the same strain of violence that plagues our world even now. We may never understand this aspect of human behavior so inhumane in its actions and so perplexing in its underlying motivations.
Today I also give thanks to First Parish in Lincoln for allowing me to share this space, all hewn by hand (just touch the back of any pew) and enameled in White that gleams in the morning light (like the cabin of your Summer Sailer). May we learn through the example of these walls and their strong ribs standing so tall. May they remind us to stand straight and tall in gratitude for all we’ve received here. Just one Sunday morning among these Clear Rippling Windows brings such joy.
I pray to all who’ve been here, are here today, and those who are yet to join us, for a steady hand to guide us in service to our community.
And should our spirits flag I pray that we be returned to a place of loving acceptance, through whichever portal we may choose. My own spiritual compass points toward music. One Bach Chorale Prelude is my gateway to transcendence and to mystery and to wonder.
In Joyful communion of our souls, Amen.
Dear God, be with us today as we gather together for a moment of stillness in our week. We have all come here today for a reason, and simply that brings us into embrace with one another.
This is a time of year that is bursting – with new growth, with celebration, with departure and transition. We are simultaneously easing in to summer mode, and rushing to get things done before summer arrives. For some, each day is overfilled and overwhelming; and for some, each day is long and lonely.
How do we measure time passing before it is too late? How do we not rush through these days without stopping to breathe and remember why we came.
In the musical, Rent, the lyrics ask whether to measure life
“in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.” 525,600 minutes, one year, one grade level, one age older, one more loved one lost.
In the end, the advice is to measure a life in love. Each season, each milestone, wherever we find ourselves along the path of life – love meets us where we are.
God, help us, to reach out to our neighbors sitting in the pews next to us and embrace each other in this space… here … today … now … surrounded by love, which is the best measure of all. Amen.
This is a prayer of gratitude for this community.
As a spiritual community, we share some of the best aspects of these United States. We are a melting pot of faiths and beliefs, coming together as a whole while maintaining our own individual spirituality. While we may not agree on everything, that doesn’t mean we agree on nothing.
We are a community of believers and non-believers.
As I belong to the latter, when I hear the phrase, “Ye of little faith,” I cringe a little inside because I really don’t like being called “Ye.”
Whether we have faith or not, we share a common bond of caring for ourselves, caring for each other, and for our world. Our history at First Parish is one of joining together, of setting aside symbols of separation.
Despite the [virtual] presence of tulips in the arrangement before me–and I do love tulips–I’ll conclude with the words of the Dicken’s character, Tiny Tim, rather than the Tonight Show one.
He said: “God bless us, every one.” Amen