January 31, 2016 — T. Haslett

Dear spirit of infinite understanding, I pray for your attention and for your divine wisdom and direction.

This morning I watched a red tailed hawk alight from a tree and rise effortlessly and silently into the sky. I sensed his freedom and yet I felt lost and untethered. I seek the security of connectedness, of being surrounded and grounded in your amazing creation. The base, coarse and hateful rhetoric that surrounds us is scarring my heart. Our collective vulnerability to zika, ebola and the myriad of infectious agents that surround us frightens me. People who insist on their inalienable right to bear arms and their concurrent sense of invincibility confuse me.   The implications of our rapidly overheating planet and the loss of so much that I love overwhelm me.

Could I fly away from these feelings?

Buddha – calls me to have faith in a path toward enlightenment, to fill my heart with compassion and to practice non-attachment

Jesus – calls me to have faith in god and to practice unconditional love

Mohammed – calls me to have faith in the one true god and his teachings

Spirit of infinite understanding, what do I do when these wonderful teachings don’t nurture me?  If faith is that thing that I am seeking – where can I find some?

Perhaps I need to be alone with the red tailed hawk – surrounded by the beauty in my life and flying free.

January 24, 2016 — B. Wells

Spirit of life, who fills our universe,
Come into our presence this morning.  Hear our prayers,
on this beautiful, perfect, snowy New England day.

Today Manish will answer questions.
We’ll learn some interesting things about our minister and our church.
But I’ve often wished I could ask you some questions, God.

Actually that’s not correct.  I ask you questions all the time.
If I listen carefully I can even hear answers,
But is it really you answering?

There’s a lot that we want to ask you.
To start with, who are we speaking to?

Some of us view you as our Father, who lives in heaven, literally.
who kicked off the big bang,
and who has been actively guiding us, and everything ever since.
If that’s who you are you certainly have a lot to answer for.

Some of us view you as an older brother.
Who came into being around the time our ancestors became human.
Who started out tribal and vindictive when our ancestors wrote the Jewish bible,
and who became wise and loving as we also grew.
Who we can’t see, but who is very real, who inhabits the space between us.
If that’s who you are, well, we still have a lot of questions.

So today we pray for the usual things
For strength, for humility and compassion, for peace.

But today we also pray to hear you more clearly God.
We have questions for you.
We’ll keep asking.
I pray you keep leading us to answers. Amen

January 17, 2016 — T. Haslett

God of many forms, show us how to bring light first to ourselves, to our families, to our communities and to our world.  Lead us to identify with the parents of Syrian children whose lives are being destroyed by conflict there.  Guide us to find common ground with Tamir Rice’s family and the thousands of other American families that have and are suffering in our unequal society.  Strengthen our courage to confront our fears and doubts so we can join with others to realize a vision of social harmony and a world without violence.

As Dr. King said – Give us a common voice of “unarmed truth and unconditional love” to address the “crucial political and moral questions of our time.” – MLK’s Nobel acceptance speech in 1964

God of infinite possibilities help us first to be conscious of our doubts and fears to better understand ourselves.  Help us to embrace and even love our unique selves so that we can feel, think and act with integrity.

God of love strengthen us in loving our children, our families and all the people who love us.  Help us to bring compassion to each of these relationships.

God of understanding help us to relate to the “other”, the seven and an half billion people we have not yet met.  Help us to embrace them as equals and to offer them whatever we can to build equity in our relationships so that our lives can be made whole.

God of peace help us to live authentically with love and grace in our hearts.  Help us to avoid anger and violence in our thoughts and our actions, so that in some small way we can emulate the genius of Dr. King.  Amen 

January 10, 2016 — B. Wells

Spirit of life, which fills our universe,
which was here to greet us when we were born,
and which will be here long after we are gone.
Come into our presence this morning.  Hear our prayers.

A new year has begun.  As Isabella said so beautifully last week:
For those who long for a new start, it is here.
For those who long for an end to endless pain,  it’s coming.
For those who long for love, it has arrived

Our prophets tell us a world of peace and love is possible.
If Buddhist, we may visualize it as the Pure Land.
If Muslim, we may describe it as Al Jannah, the perfect garden,
where rivers of milk, and wine, and honey flow ever sweet.
If Christian, we may call it the kingdom of heaven.

The Buddhist teacher Tich Nahat Hahn tells us we
don’t have to die to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
He says: you can only do so if you are fully alive.
And we have to create it for ourselves

So we pray to enter the new year with the intention to be fully alive.
To live our lives with love and compassion,
both for ourselves, and for our brothers and sisters around the world.

Even those we don’t agree with. Even those who are angry,
and even filled with rage.  The ones we already love are easy.
Help us extend our love and compassion to all our brothers and sisters

Help us build a world of peace and love.
The Pure Land.
The perfect garden of Al Jannah.
The Kingdom of Heaven.

May it be so.  Amen

January 3, 2016 — I. Nebel

God, we’ve come to worship you and all you’ve made, and all we long for that your patience holds. We are among you and your spirit fills each space.  Now come reside in me and every friend, so that each day becomes a memory  we can relive. You’ve brought us to another year. For those who long for a new start it is here. For those who long for an end to endless pain, it’s coming. For those who long for love, it has arrived.

Holy Spirit, you who have created every question and in whom all answers live, thank you for this day. For the sun, the earth, food, and shelter. Thank you for our parents, and our children, brothers, sisters, and our friends, all who are here, seen and unseen. Thank you for the longing that endures in which hope begins anew. Today, for just one day, I will love you without fear. Release my inhibitions, hold close to me those who are far away, and who stand near. I am not afraid, for you are here.  Amen

December 20, 2015 — A. Bishop

Dear God,

On this last Sunday before Christmas help us to remember how blessed we are to be a part of this loving community.

We are a community which rallies and comes together to help one another who are in need of a helping hand, a healing prayer, a comforting hug, a warm meal, or a card filled with encouraging words. Continue to remind us to help one another in all the ways we can.

Twelve years ago, God, I experienced the wonders of this special community. How touched and grateful I was for the love and support they gave to me and to my family. My spirits were lifted through thoughtful cards, art materials to keep my mind distracted, cozy stuffed animals, and most especially their countless prayers of healing, strength, courage, and love. I truly believe that you, God, were listening and heard these prayers. I can’t begin to tell you, Lord, how thankful I am that all the prayers were answered and that I am here today speaking in front of our community.

Dear God, I am also thankful for this community which gathers together during the Christmas season. Please help us to remember to take time to appreciate the love in this community; filled with friends and family, young and old. Remind us to be grateful for the childhood friends and family who travel home to be a part of this caring community. Let’s welcome them back with open arms and hearts. Each year, help us to look forward to the traditions we share with one another, the candles burning bright, messages of hope and joy, and the magic of the season. Thank you, Lord, for this time of year which allows us to reflect upon the love, traditions, and memories which we share with each other when we gather together during the Christmas season and throughout the year.  Amen.

December 13, 2015 — K. Maxim

Great Spirit, we come to you in love and gratitude.

On this blessed Advent morning, we give thanks for being able to rest in the safety and comfort of our beautiful sanctuary, as we invite the grace of your presence to enter our hearts.

We are grateful we do not have to worry that the sound of a low flying plane overhead might mean death and destruction.

We are grateful we do not have to worry that we might arrive for worship on a Sunday morning to find words of hate and fear scrawled on the white walls of our church.

We know it is not so in other places God.  Let us not take our freedom and safety for granted.

Lord, as I watch our painted wooden travelers move forward on their windowsill journey, I find myself thinking of other travelers…

Those searching for a warm grate on a cold night;

Those about to carry a baby onto a small boat;

Those hoping to find a hole in a barbed wire fence;

Those praying to be chosen by the ones who stamp the papers; the ones who dole out destiny and fate.

God, we ask your blessings…for all those hoping to be let in, for all those hoping to escape, and for all those who hold the power to decide.

Dear One, let us not fear the stranger.

Help us to remember we are all strangers someplace, until we open our hearts to one another in recognition.

Guide us, dear Lord, in taking small actions each day to soften our judgments and open ourselves to ever widening compassion.

Help us God, to live our lives in the spirit of the love and joy you intended for us.

May it be so.  Amen.

December 6, 2015 — A. Bishop

Dear God,

We thank you for these early December mornings, for the sun shining and the cold crisp air, for the days when we wake up early in the morning, peek out the window, and see that the grass is lightly dusted with frost, glistening and sparkling in the sunshine. Thank you for this beautiful sight.

Dear Lord, the holidays are approaching. Help us to remember all of the people who may be experiencing hard times during this holiday season. We are thinking about the people who have been struggling in California this week trying to make sense of what has happened in their community. We hold them all in our hearts this morning as they try to find peace and comfort.

Our days are busy; filled with work tasks to complete, to-do lists to work through, errands to run, school pick-ups, we are filled to the brim with life. Please help us to find peace and calmness in our days and teach us to slow down, especially during this busy time leading up to the holidays.

Remind us to not take life for granted, to take deep breaths, relax, and focus our time and energy on the people we love. The to-do lists and tasks can wait. Help us to look for the magic in Christmas through the twinkling lights we see while driving home in the dark, the excitement in a child’s eyes as they prepare for the tradition of our pageant, the scent of balsam trees filling our homes, the comforting music of Christmas carols, and being surrounded and present with the people we love. Remind us that this is what the Christmas season is all about. We have many blessings in our lives to count this season and always. Amen.

November 29, 2015 — S. Johnson

Spirit of love, God of many names, we give thanks. For one another, for loved ones departed, for this hallowed ground. For Thanksgiving’s bounty still fresh in our memories, for our many blessings, for another precious day.

As the seasons turn our days shorten, shadows lengthen. The owl and the fox return to the woodland. Our breath becomes visible. As do our angels. We button up and hunker down.

Great Mystery, tell us the ancient tale of anticipation and hope, apprehension and wonder, premonitions of joy. The Holy Family has begun its journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and here in Lincoln from the narthex wall to the chancel. We pray they will arrive intact, hearts still full, hope undiminished.

Spirit of Advent, help us prepare. For safe journeys through the holidays, for new beginnings in the year ahead, to love more fully, give more freely, forgive more quickly, sing more merrily. God knows, a child’s laugh, a child’s hug, may be the only gift we truly need this season.

May compassion be our compass, joy our strength, and peace our passion, in Advent and always. Amen.