September 18, 2016 — J. Elliott

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.
Amen

 

September 11, 2016 — P. Waterman

Water Communion Prayer

Dear Lord

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.

August 21, 2016 — S. Perry

Dear God,

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

July 24, 2016 — R. Shepard

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

Circle

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.

 

June 26, 2016 – C. Campo

Amaryllis

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.

June 19, 2016 — M. Beal

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.

June 12, 2016 — C. Campo

“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.

But everyday.

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.

June 5, 2016 — K. Maxim

Dearest One,

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.

 

May 29, 2016 — T. Aarset

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.

May 22, 2016 — S. Perry

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.

 

May 15, 2016 — D. Elmes

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

May 8, 2016 — S. Perry

Dear God, thank you for this time and for this space.

Dear Mother, Mom, Mama, Madre, Mutter, Mu Chin – hear our prayers.  You mean something different to each of us.

“Mom,   why did you have to kick me out?  I miss your warm and cozy womb.  It is too cold and loud out here. Thank you for carrying and nourishing me, and for miraculously bringing me in to this world.”

“Mama,  Mama,  Mama… Milk?  Truck?  Cat?  Snack?  More MORE?”

“Mom,   I need help with my homework.  Mom, can you drive me to practice? Mom, we’re late for the bus.  What’s for dinner?  What’s for lunch?    Mom, Mom, MOM!”

“Mom,   you broke my heart. You left when I was so young, and I feel abandoned and alone. I miss you – I think – although I don’t really know you. I wonder if you ever think about me. I wonder if you feel whole.”

“Mom,   I am so sorry I let you down.  You gave me everything and I threw it all away. I know that I hurt you.  I am trying to get well and overcome my demons.  Please forgive me. I need you.”

“Mom,   I lost you too early. As I sat at your bedside and watched your body fail you, I treasured every moment. I am flooded now with memories of you.  I feel your spirit close to me every day. I hear your voice in the wind.  Thank you for wisdom and love.”

“Mom,   I feel joy when we are together. You know me better than I know myself. As I get older, I recognize so much in me that is you.  And now I am full of gratitude for the gift of motherhood – the giving and receiving, the joy and heartbreak, the triumph and failure.”

Dear God, many of us have made the choice to raise a child, whether our own, a step-child, or an adopted child.  Some of us have been deeply fulfilled in motherhood, and some of us devastated by the sorrow of not being able to have a child, or losing a child.

And yet, we are bound together by shared experience of having had a mother or a mother figure, who provided solace, support, discipline, insight, and simply – unbridled love.  Let us today give thanks for that. Amen.

May 1, 2016 — D. Elmes

Over the years, from one generation to the next, many things change.

We tend to identify ourselves by what we’ve experienced through world events, sports, music and technology.

The request, “Please deposit five cents for an additional three minutes,” seems absurd in the days of cell phones.

Of course, change isn’t always good.  How often have you picked up the phone to hear, “Hi! This is Rachel from cardholder services?”  I admit I have had some unkind words for Rachel.

Education changes.  Once memorization played a large part in schooling.  I’m sure some of us can remember things we memorized in High School even as we struggle with names of people we know well.

Fortunately, evolution moves much more slowly than technology.  What we have in common in our abilities to learn, forgive and love bind us together in more important ways than the events which set us apart.

Years ago, I’m sure fewer cars passed through Lincoln each day.  However, today’s prayer was made possible by that traffic. It’s a prayer of thanks to a woman in a car.  After dropping our older daughter at middle school, I was merging into the eastward procession of cars on Lincoln Road.  I wasn’t close to the five way intersection and it wasn’t my turn to go, but this woman waved me on.  As it wasn’t my turn, I smiled and waved back.  She smiled and waved.  After a bunch of waving and a bunch of smiling, she went.

Now the car length didn’t make a difference in either of our days, but I know for me, the smiles did.

May your commutes–your time behind the wheel–be blessed by an occasional smile. Amen

 

April 24, 2016 — J. Mansfield

Spirit of all who lives deep within us, we are troubled. We have come to a strange place 46 years after the first Earth Day. We can see from space the aching beauty of our blue planet.   We can fly in planes over vast forests and see cities sparkling at night.    We can allow ourselves to be immersed the virtual world of picture stories. Videos make us laugh and awake our emotions of joy or sorrow for the wonderful creatures of our world in their comic beauty or their special tragedies.

We have gotten comfortable in our warm in the winter, cool in the summer homes, eating food from round the world always in season, driving cars that seldom overheat or get flat tires.   We feel that other people and other creatures suffer, and we sense with vague unease that our comfort may be related to their suffering.  Humans appear to be unbalancing this tiny corner of creation in a possibly disastrous way.  Let us embrace the immense love and sorrow we feel for our mother earth.  Let us use the storm of mixed emotions stirred up by the images we see on screens and the beauty of the awakening spring to connect with each other and take some action to save our home.  Spirit of all, help us to open our hearts to the love for creation which is the center of our humanity and our connection to the whole. Amen.

April 17, 2016 – J. Calhoun Hans

Dear God,

I am thankful for all the times I have been able to travel: to visit family and friends, for work, for relaxation, for adventure. It is during these times away from home, where I break from my daily routine and familiar surroundings, that I feel the world is fresh with possibilities and challenges.

I am thankful for all the inspiration that comes with these new experiences – the new art, new food, exposure to different life attitudes that seems to fit better than my own at home.

I am thankful for all the times I have returned home with refreshed gratitude for my family, my community, my country.

The effort of putting time and distance between me and my normal day helps me see, with new perspective, not only the world around me but also myself. I am more aware of what can be, for better or for worse, and I feel more apart of and responsible to the world beyond my safe home base.

But when daily responsibilities, finances, or health make travel impossible, and the distance and time that can come so naturally through packing a suitcase and getting in the car or on an airplane, I am ever grateful for the spaces close to home that provide a space to reset and gain perspective – a church, a sand dune, a friend, and on somedays, a good book.

Thank you God for all the opportunities to travel, and when we cannot, for the gift of our local retreats.  Amen