Embrace the cities and towns


York Minster  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 
 

Here’s a thoughtful meditation by Ann Bell Worley, based on Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles headed for the city of Babylon.

The meditation is taken from the Cities and Towns issue in a series of publications on faith and ethics produced by Baylor University (and available for free download).


Meditation: “Babylon”

Not simply an evil territory
     or a dirty word,
     as we are prone to believe.
But a place where God’s people were sent
     in exile
     on purpose
     on mission
         to offer their culture
     to the culture there
     in love.
For God so loved the world.

Like Israel in exile, still we hope
     for our homecoming in the city of God,
     where there will be no more tears.
Let us hope not
     in closed communion
     in isolated sanctuaries
     apart from the Babylon-world.
Rather let us hope
     in the fullness of God’s love
     in the life of the cities and towns
         where we work
         and love
         and worship
         and play.
And remember
     that God so loved not only us,
         but the world.

Let us hope for Babylon
     as we hope for ourselves.
Let us embrace
     its people
     its buildings
     its streets
     and fill them with the beauty
         of God’s temple.
Let us hope
         with doors wide open,
     welcome the city in
     and pour ourselves out.
For God so loved the world.
 

~ written by Ann Bell Worley, copyright © 2006 The Center for Christian Ethics. Posted on the Baylor University website.
 


… more on Cities and Towns

Other subjects included in the Cities and Towns issue:

  • Dysfunctional Cities: Where Did We Go Wrong?
  • Citizens of Another City
  • The New Urbanism
  • Saint Benedict in the City
  • Crate and Castle
  • Cities and Towns in Art
  • Salt in the City

… and loads more on Faith and Ethics …

Check out the Baylor University’s Christian Reflection Project for materials on other areas of life where faith and ethics intersect – to inform your thoughts and your prayers. Also a great resource for group discussions.

Note: Besides articles, there are also study guides provided, for example this one on Consumerism.
 


 
From the blog

Prayer prompts
Sola gratia – Deo gratias
Sabbath rest

 

Bend down low


Artwork, Gorinchem Museum  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Our theme for July is EMBRACE.

May you know the embrace of God today, and draw others into the circle of embrace by your prayers and by acts of loving kindness.


A Prayer for Others

Lord Jesus Christ,
when you walked on dusty roads
or sat by glistening waters,
you met people where they were.

When you bent down low
to touch the leper,
or raised your eyes to touch Zacchaeus’ heart,
heaven and earth were met.

And so our prayer today is that our world will know
your healing touch
and your forgiving heart.

That those who have been hurt
by insincere actions
and damning words
will hear your healing voice.

That those whose lives are filled with dark thoughts,
or unimaginable fears,
will know your peace.

Walk beside those who are close to giving up hope
and where life seems to have no point;
where people struggle to make ends meet
and fear the bailiffs’ knock on the door.

May children living in sewers
or tending AIDS-racked parents
feel the touch of a caring hand
and an end to injustice and fear.

And may all who weep and mourn,
or feel abandoned and unloved
turn towards your voice,
move towards your arms
and hear the whisper of your presence
in the long hours of night.

Inspire us and encourage us to bend down low;
to embrace those for whom society has no time or patience.

Raise our eyes upwards to see the struggling patient
and the exhausted care giver.

And where young and old stumble and fall,
may we be there to offer support,
that all will know your love that transcends all others.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Amen.

 
— written by Reverend Eleanor Macalister, and originally posted on the Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website. Reposted on re:worship
 


 
From the blog
Prayer sheet: Good shepherd
Blessed assurance
Prepare a way

Wonder-full psalm


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Here is an active prayer by Roy DeLeon, inspired by Psalm 139, a truly “wonder-full” psalm and one of my favourites.

 
 
Note:
Roy DeLeon’s book includes drawings for the different poses, but the written “instructions” should be graphic enough to get you praying with body, heart and soul.

 


An active prayer

inspired by Psalm 139
 

O God, you know when I am happy;
Inhale: Express your joy with a smile coming from your heart and radiating out through your hands and feet.

You know when I am in the gutter.
Exhale: Sag your body down, depleted of energy, drained of life.

You know well the choices I make
Inhale: Lift up your arms.

And the paths they lead to.
Exhale: Bring your arms down toward your front foot and check the path you took today.

Your thoughts go beyond my reach;
Inhale: As you breathe in, reach up.

Your depth beyond all thoughts.
Exhale: As you breathe out, reach down, letting your head dangle freely.

I open my eyes, and there you are.
Inhale: Look up toward God in the heights.

I look inward, and there you are.
Exhale: Close your eyes and feel your humanness.

Thanks for your wonderful gifts.
Inhale: Count your blessings and give thanks. Smile.

Because of you, I am wonder.
Exhale: Smile. Radiate God’s joy.

 
from Praying with the body: Bringing the psalms to life by Roy DeLeon, p. 94
 


 
From the blog
Summer-friendly spiritual practices
Fearfully and wonderfully made
walk, run, soar

The Spirit does wonders


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13 (NIVUK)

 


Prayer to God, the Spirit

O God,
You are Spirit;
You are wind;
You are breath.

You meet us in the wonders of creation,
in the awe of wonderful things,
in the terror of fearful things.
You blow among the fallen leaves,
the broken branches,
the whining pain
and the whirlwinds of delight.

Your wind gently touches our brow
with comfort and caress;
your forgiveness raises us to life;
your challenge disturbs our tidy piles
and spreads opportunities before our eyes.

Gentle Spirit, breathe on us your life.
Strong Spirit, open our closed doors to your compassion;
Universal Spirit, inspire us to sing and sigh for justice;
Spirit of Jesus, teach us to walk,
to work, to pray, to live, to love,
your way.

Awaken our dreams,
expand our visions,
heal us for hope,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

 
written by William Loader and posted on www.staff.murdoch.edu.au
 


From the blog
Rejoice in the Lord always (Prayer sheet)
Take heart
3 Prayers to the Sacred Trinity

Proclaim the wondrous


Garden at Colomba Le Roc Retreat, France  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

But you are a chosen people,
set aside to be
      a royal order of priests,
a holy nation, God’s own;
so that you may proclaim
the wondrous acts
of the One who called you
out of inky darkness
into shimmering light.

 

(1 Peter 2:9, The Voice)

 


Literally part of “a royal order of priests”

Pentecost weekend I had the privilege of representing our Presbytery at the dedication service of Colomba Le Roc Retreat – a truly ecumenical celebration.

 
As part of the “Blessing of Colomba le Roc and all present” at the end of the service, I used this benediction by David Adam:

Benediction

The Father of many resting places grant you rest;
The Christ who stilled the storm grant you calm;
The Spirit who fills all things grant you peace.
God’s light be your light,
God’s love be your love,
God’s way be your way.

The eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit
shield you on every side.
Amen.

 
from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p.112
 


 
From the blog
Body talk
Prayer sheet: Called into community
Show me the way

 

The wonder of Pentecost


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Wishing you a blessed Pentecost, and much fruit on all our prayers as Thy Kingdom Come season draws to a close.


Pentecost Prayer

(inspired by Acts 2)

Breath of God,
Spirit who appeared like a driving wind,
blow away our prejudice
and teach us to value all people.

Spirit of God,
who appeared like tongues of flame,
burn in us as a passion for justice
and a commitment to change.

Spirit of life,
who caused the disciples to speak in tongues,
speak through us,
and fill us with the courage to proclaim your love.

Spirit of truth,
who fills us with wonder and awe,
inspire us to work for a better world
and a future where injustice is swept away.
Amen

written by Catherine Gorman and posted on the CAFOD website.


From the blog

The Gift booklet
12-part series of readings and prayer poems on the Holy Spirit

Pray: ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ (2019)


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

We’re in ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ season, from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost.

What started in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.
 

“After the very first Ascension Day the disciples gathered with Mary, constantly devoting themselves to prayer while they waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Like them, our reliance on the gift of the Holy Spirit is total – on our own we can do nothing.

Through the centuries Christians have gathered at that time to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ picks up this tradition.”

(https://www.thykingdomcome.global/about-us)
 


A prayer

On Ascension Day a number of people from my church attended a service in the local Anglican Church. To mark the start of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ season, the minister selected the following prayer from ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ online resources for the close of the service.
 

God of our salvation,
hope of all the ends of the earth, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the world may know Jesus Christ
as the Prince of Peace, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That all who are estranged and without hope
may be brought near in the blood of Christ, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the Church may be one in serving
and proclaiming the gospel, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That we may be bold to speak the word of God
while you stretch out your hand to save, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the Church may be generous in giving,
faithful in serving, bold in proclaiming, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the Church may welcome and support
all whom God calls to faith, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That all who serve the gospel may be kept in safety
while your word accomplishes its purpose, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That all who suffer for the gospel
may know the comfort and glory of Christ, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the day may come when every knee shall bow
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

 
from www.thykingdomcome.global
 


EXTRA

‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer ideas (including resources for families) from engageworship.org

In the school of prayer with St Francis of Assisi

 

St Francis of Assisi (1181?–1226): Who better to help us explore the joyful in life and prayer?

 
First, some notes on Franciscan-style prayer, based on an article by Stefan Walser.

Next, 3 prayers written by St Francis (or connected with him) for you to try on and adapt. Indoors or outdoors. Alone or together.

Finally, a ‘Digging deeper’ section with a video and some links.

 

Enjoy.


Characteristics of Franciscan prayer

1. Individual.  Francis of Assisi developed a personal and individual way of praying, based on his unique personality and life story, and he encourages us to do the same.

2. Responsorial.  Prayer is always a dialogue, a response, a ‘re-action’. Bringing one’s life to God, one gives back what one received from God. Therefore, Franciscan prayer always includes thanksgiving.

3. Affirmative.  In affirming the gift of life and God as the Creator of life, we develop an affirmative attitude in general.

4. Universal.  There is nothing that does not relate to God, and so there is nothing that cannot be part of prayer.

5. Connected to actions and work.  Francis prays, even in the most seclusive moments of his life, that his prayers might have some “output” and that he may fulfil “God’s commands”.

6. Integral part of communal life.  By centring communal life around prayer, a certain “contemplative” attitude in all things is maintained.

adapted from an MDPI article by Stefan Walser

 


Canticle of the Sun

Most High, all-powerful sweet Lord,
yours is the praise, the glory,
and the honour & every blessing.

Be praised, My Lord, for all your creatures,
and first for brother sun,
who makes the day bright and luminous.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour.
He is the image of you, Most High.

Be praised, My Lord, for sister moon
and the stars, in the sky.
You have made them brilliant & precious & beautiful.

Be praised, My Lord, for brother wind
and for the air both cloudy and serene
and every kind of weather,
through which you give nourishment to your creatures.

Be praised, My Lord, for sister water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Be praised, My Lord, for brother fire,
through whom you illuminate the night.
And he is beautiful and joyous and robust and strong.

Be praised, My Lord, for our sister, mother earth,
who nourishes us and watches over us
and brings forth various fruits with coloured flowers & herbs.

Be praised, My Lord,
for those who forgive through your love,
and bear sickness & tribulation;
blessed are those who endure in peace,
for they will be crowned by you, Most High.

Be praised, My Lord, for our sister, bodily death,
from whom no living thing can escape.
Blessed are those whom she finds
doing your most holy will,
for the second death cannot harm them.

Praise and bless My Lord
and give thanks to him
and serve him with great humility.

 

St Francis’ prayer inspired by the “Our Father”

O our most holy Father:
Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler, and Savior,

You are in heaven:
And in the angels and saints,
Inflaming us to love, because You, Lord, are love,
And filling us with happiness as our Supreme and Eternal Good.

Glorious is Your name:
May our knowledge of You become ever clearer
That we may know Your blessings and Your majesty.

Your Kingdom come:
Give us unclouded vision to let you rule in us through Your grace,
And so we enjoy a blessed companionship with You forever.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven:
That we may love You with our whole heart,
Desire You with our whole soul,
Always think of You with affection,
Spend all our energies in serving You,
And that we may love our neighbours with Your love.

Give us this day our daily Bread:
Which is our Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

And forgive us our trespasses:
Through Your indescribable mercy to us in Christ,
Which we see in the faith and prayers of the blessed virgin Mary.

Help us to forgive those who trespass against us:
You, Lord, enable us to forgive to the full
So that we may truly love our enemies and intercede for them.

Lead us not into temptation:
Keep us from all sin, hidden or obvious.

Deliver us from evil:
Keep us from all that’s bad in the past, present, and to come.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, it is now, and will be forever.
Amen.

 

“Peace Prayer of Saint Francis”

First printed in France in 1912, this much-loved prayer may not have been written by St Francis, but it certainly embodies what he stood for.

 
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console,
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

source: The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #45

 


Digging deeper

Video: St. Francis from the series, “Who Cares About The Saints?”

Article: The Spirituality of St Francis of Assisi
Article: 7 Life lessons from St Francis of Assisi
Article: Francis of Assisi: A gospel way of life
Book review: When St Francis saved the church by Jon Sweeney
 


From the blog

Consolation joy


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

(Psalm 94:19, NIVUK)

 


A prayer

How can I tell of such love to me?
You made me in your image
and hold me in the palm of your hand,
your cords of love, strong and fragile as silk,
      bind me and hold me.
Rich cords, to family and friends,
music and laughter echoing in memories,
light dancing on the water, hills rejoicing.
Cords that found me hiding behind carefully built walls
      and led me out,
love that heard my heart break and despair and rescued me,
love that overcame my fears and doubts and released me.
The questions and burdens I carry you take,
to leave my hands free – to hold yours, and others,
free to follow your cords as they move
and swirl in the breeze,
free to be caught up in the dance of your love,
finding myself in surrendering to you.
How can I tell of such love?
How can I give to such love?
I am, here am I.

 
by Catherine Hooper
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #177
 


 
Recommendation
 
I’m thoroughly enjoying Ingrid Fettell Lee’s book, Joyful.
Check out her website, Aesthetics of Joy, for details and additional resources.
 

Theme: Rejoice in the Lord always

 

This prayer sheet is inspired by a recurring theme in Scripture: the phrase, “Rejoice in the Lord”.

 
For personal use or to share.


Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing. It is the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort. Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that joy. He had joy, singing its music within, even under the shadow of the cross.
S.D. Gordon

Continue reading “Theme: Rejoice in the Lord always”