November 27, 2016 — T. Aarset

A Prayer for Spiritual Resilience

Creator Spirit, hear this simple prayer.  I need courage during this time of uncertainty.  I want to share with you the stories of two courageous exemplars I’ve just met.

Shabir has been here for six years from his home in Kashmir India, where his mother and sisters still live.  Their situation is dire and worsening; air is foul and food is scarce.  Shabir sends both money and food to assist his family.  Yet his attitude is one of bright spirit, optimism and daily gratitude for this life.  He exemplifies the resilience needed to thrive and to share his message of hope with me.

Luis has been here for nineteen years from his home in Venezuela where most of his family still live.  Their situation is also dire and worsening.  Food is only available by waiting in long lines and paying sky rocketing prices for basic needs.  Luis sends both money and food back home to help sustain his family.  And Luis, too, presents a bright and positive attitude and a firm belief that human kind is above all adaptable.  “We adapt because we must; it’s how we survive.”

I pray to remain mindful of these two teachers and their uncommon example of courage, hopefulness and spiritual resilience.  They have inspired me, just when I’ve most needed inspiration.  When the challenge is great we must ‘adapt’ to live and thrive.  The teachers we meet are the ones we need. Amen

November 20, 2016 — M. Clemens

How miraculous

that the universe has unfolded

to find us here together this morning, on this week of Thanksgiving.

And how thoughtful of our predecessors to provide us with this spare church,

for when our other one is in the shop.

Fortune has indeed shone our way.

 

And yet, Fortuna, she is a fickle goddess

and for those who, this year, have had your hearts crushed by her capricious turns,

we pray for you, we pray for us,

that we may find the equanimity to look back with contentment.

And yet more so,

that we may find the grit to look forward with hope,

to believe in the future,

to find some divine wellspring of productive optimism

that will rekindle our will to move forward,

and that will remind us

that the world is in need of our light.

 

On this week of giving thanks, we pray,

that we may once again be dazzled

by the countless commonplace luxuries that we enjoy,

but so often fail to really enjoy.

And yet more so,

that we may see through these shiny things,

and again touch the core of our true blessings.

 

This week, we pray

that we may see with unjaded eyes:

what we have,

how we live,

who we love,

and – so easy to take for granted – those who actually love us back.

As we gather this week,

may we remember to look up,

in sincere appreciation,

at those who show their love for us

by coming all that way, by inviting us over,

by making that dish we like.

By listening to our stories, laughing at our lame jokes,

by overlooking our many faults.

 

May we show them the same love,

and gratefully,

take a bit of everything. Amen

 

November 13, 2016 — T. Risser

Holy Spirit, we come to thee with bewilderment at the stunning transformation of the emerald leaves into the fiery hues of fall, constituting thy brilliant announcement of the end of the fecundity of summer and preparation for the bleakness of winter.  May we be buoyed by the magnificence of the harvest, in this, Thy world of overflowing cornucopia.  May we thrust ourselves joyfully into the rhythms of life, with our celebration of the darkness of the Solstice, and our revelry in the luminance of the Advent season.

We thank thee for the noble institutions of our nation, providing for the will of the people to periodically change their leadership, and for our tradition of comity in transferring the awesome power of our government.  We thank thee for teaching us tolerance and respect for one another’s insight into our world, and for our sense of security that, in E Pluribus Unum, we honor our diverse opinions, resulting in sagacious decisions for governing ourselves.

We thank thee for the valor of the 21 million living intrepid men and women who have donned the cloth of our nation and taken up arms in our defense, frequently at great personal peril, but in doing so manifest the timeless virtues of selfless courage, and devotion to duty.  It is their toil that allows us to bathe in the sublime liberty that Thou hast bestowed upon us.  May we honor them and fulfill our commitments to them — especially those scarred by violence on our behalf.

We pray for thy sacred blessing of our flawed selves, as we strive to honor the spirit of Jesus and the service of all.  Amen.

 

November 6, 2016 — M. Clemens

We give thanks for this sacred space
formed by these walls and by the people within them.
We give thanks for perspective we gain from this time together,
may we all find what we need:
peace, solace, music, community, wisdom, inspiration, and the divine.

May we also find here some refuge
from the incessant rattle of wisdom-less information,
and from the marketers
of stuff and things and of politicians
who sing us songs evermore sophisticated and alluring,
evermore trivial and degrading.

In life (as in politics) let us not be swayed by those who,
for their own advantage, not ours,
would magnify our differences and obscure
the self-evident truth of our equality.
May we find the strength to resist
the delicious warm glow of angry certainty,
that we are so righteously right
and they so wickedly wrong.
May we not confuse differences of opinion with differences in our humanity.
May we instead seek to rediscover what has been here all along;
the broad common space where we can work together towards our common goals.

Let us patriots recommit ourselves to that most central common ground;
the love of truth.
And, with some help from our better angels,
work together
to build a more perfect union,
and to be thoughtful stewards
of this space,
and of our families, our friendships, communities, nations, and the living world. Amen

October 30, 2016 — P. Waterman

Dear Lord, I come here today costumed as an Earth angel . No, not the one from the song, an  angel for the earth, the angel that cares for the earth and all her beings.

I love the wings. They make me feel strong and secure, not afraid.

This is the time of year for spirits, All Hallows Eve, when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the spirits grows thin.

Sometimes we get scared of things we can’t see or don’t understand. May we always remember that we can reach out to You, our family, our friends, this church and all good people of the world  and they will be there to help us feel safe.

So today dear Lord, we dress up in costumes (and maybe scare each other a little bit) to honor good spirits and to keep bad spirits away. May it be so. Amen.

October 23, 2016 — R. Shepard

This morning we offer a collective prayer of thanksgiving for this safe place where we privately meditate and publicly pray. Where we gather seeking refuge from the storms of nature, of others, and ourselves.

As we flow deeper into prayer let us prepare for November ninth, when the long-running circus leaves town but the ground quakes in aftershocks that crackle civility.

Help us to be boorishly incorrect and stand firm with smiles and acts of kindness as we recognize we are all “others” to others and are united in our otherness rather than disunited by our differences.

On wings of prayer we seek to rise above what Charles Blow has described as an impulse to conflate our transforming economy with the changing accents and colors of hope.

Give us strength to find courage to know that rage cannot sooth the Uber disruption of inherited medallions of purloined privilege.

In your name, spirit of many shapes and languages, guide us to embrace our otherness in the otherness of others. Amen

 

October 16, 2016 — B. Asis

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.

October 9, 2016 — R. Shepard

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;

It’s not

“Why is it over so soon?”

But

“How am I doing with this life?”

The question is straightforward yet

My search twists and swirls like the bark of a catalpa tree

Meandering upwards

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

October 2, 2016 — B. Asis

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

September 25, 2016 — S. Perry

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. 

 

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.