When hot and bothered


After a warm spell dried out curly willow leaves litter the grass  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

I was searching for something to share on a summer theme. The word “hot” led me to this prayer poem by Anita Munro.


Teach us where the bucket is

O God, we gather at your waters,
as a hot and bothered crowd gathers on the beach
on a sweltering, summer day.
O God, we drink at your fountain,
as a parched dog laps at the fresh,
running water of a bush creek.
O God, we await your refreshment,
as a tired worker watches for the change of shift.
Quench our thirst, satisfy our longings.
May we be refreshed and restored in you;
and teach us where to find the bucket and how to carry it
so that we might draw that water for those who most need it.

— written by Anita Monro and posted on the MAD-e-Lena blog.


Tip
Read Anita’s blog post for the story behind this prayer poem.


From the blog
Water world news
 

The Gift revisited

The Gift

 
This blog usually features the prayerful writings of others. One major exception is the series, “The Gift”: 12 meditations with readings and original prayer poems on the Holy Spirit that I published between Ascension Day and Pentecost last year.

As a gift to you for Pentecost 2018, I’ve repackaged the 2017 series as a 16-page booklet in PDF format, ready for printing. To get your copy, click here.

For the original blog posts, click here.

Also, check out the Index to see what else this blog has on offer (past posts/series) and maybe consider signing up (if you haven’t yet done so) to receive future posts in your email inbox.
 

Call of the wild ones


Last year’s clutch of Egyptian goslings behind Rotterdam Central Station
 

On the eve of Ash Wednesday and a new season of Lent, here is a “wild” poem by Joel McKerrow that I found on the Northumbria Community website.

 

As the tamed horse
still hears the call of her wild brothers
and as the farmed goose flaps hopeful wings
as his sisters fly overhead,
so too, perhaps,
the wild ones amongst us
are our only hope in calling us back
to our true nature.
Wild ones
who have not been turned to stone
by the far-reaching grasp of the empire
and its programme of consumer sedation,
the killing of imagination.
Where, my friends,
have the wild ones gone?

Joel McKerrow
 

Can you hear the wild ones calling?

Jesus: ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’ (Mark 4:9)


More Joel McKerrow

Curious to find out more about Joel McKerrow, I found this youtube video featuring another of his “wild” poems: We Dance Wild by Joel McKerrow

You can find the words to “We dance wild” and some backstory on the Abbey of the Arts website.
 

2017: Advent Hope #7


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

OUR HOPE

Luke 2:28–32  (NRSVA)

28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29       ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
                according to your word;
30       for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31       which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32       a light for revelation to the Gentiles
                and for glory to your people Israel.’

Thought

What do you hope for this Advent? Simeon had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah and he lived in the hope of that promise being fulfilled. When he met the baby Jesus he knew immediately that he had not waited in vain.

In his prayer of thanksgiving, Simeon also prophesied that Jesus would not only minister to the Jews; he would be the hope of the Gentiles too. That gives hope and a promise to me and you. The child of Bethlehem, the Christ upon the cross, Jesus the Saviour of the world, our Redeemer.

Poem: Advent hope

Advent, a time of waiting in expectant anticipation
For the celebration of Messiah’s birth
For the visit of shepherds and wise men
For Angels singing peace on earth

Advent, a time of earnest preparation
For the return of the king
For the establishment of his kingdom
And the peace that it will bring

Advent, a time of trusting and hoping
For God’s promises to come true
For the love of God to fill the earth
Beginning with me and with you

Advent, a time which God has set aside
For each to watch and pray
To seek a deeper understanding
Of his purposes for us each day.

Prayer

Our hope is in the Lord.

Lord, help us to hold onto our Advent hope as we journey with you through these days, getting our hearts ready to welcome Jesus this Christmas.

Help us to listen for your word and be directed by your spirit so that when Jesus returns he will find us ready for him. May we truly be servants who act upon your word and live in hope of your coming to reign.

Come Lord Jesus!
Amen

 

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Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Journey daily with characters in the Nativity through video, reflection and prayer

 

2017: Advent Hope #6


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

ISRAEL’S HOPE

Isaiah 11:1–3  (NRSVA)

1 A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
      and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
      the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
      the spirit of counsel and might,
      the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
   He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
      or decide by what his ears hear;

Thought

Have you ever been told the same thing by several people? God had sent prophet after prophet to tell his people Israel about the one to come, the one they called the Messiah and yet the people still did not understand. Often we have to be told something many times by many different people before the information drops from the head to the heart, before we begin to hope for what is promised.

Poem: The prophets

The prophets promised a Messiah
Would be born to save the Jews
But the people never listened
To their message of good news

They promised them a future King
Who would rescue Israel
They promised he’d save the gentile too
That didn’t go down so well

They said a child would be born
In Bethlehem in Judea
That his mother would be a virgin
And he’d be named “God is near”

They told them the Messiah
Would be born of David’s line
That God would send his servant
At the appointed Time

They told them of the servant
Who would suffer and die
“Surely not our Messiah”
Was the people’s cry

For they wanted a Saviour
A great and mighty King
Who would lead forth his people
And bring the kingdom in

The people wanted a warrior
To lead them on to victory
They didn’t want a preacher
Who would die upon a tree

But the prophet’s message was clear
Through the centuries it came
The promise of a Messiah
Immanuel by name

God would send his son
The Servant King
To carry his people’s burdens
To redeem the world from sin

Prayer

Father God, you sent your prophets to your people Israel and yet they refused to listen to their message and missed the promised Messiah. Help us to listen to the message of your prophets today so that when you come among us we are prepared and ready to respond.

 

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Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Journey daily with characters in the Nativity through video, reflection and prayer

 


TIP … from the blog
Children’s prayer #1

2017: Advent Hope #5


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

JOSEPH’S HOPE

Matthew 1:18–21  (NRSVA)

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

Thought

Have you ever had your hopes dashed? Joseph was looking forward to seeing his hopes fulfilled as he married his fiancé and they started a new life together. Then, in an instant, everything he had hoped for was taken from him. His hopes were dashed, or were they? He received all he had hoped for but not in the way he expected. It reminds me of these words from a prayer written by an anonymous Confederate soldier in the US civil war: “I got nothing that I asked for but got everything I had hoped for.”

Poem: Joseph’s Diary

I wonder what would you do
If something like this happened to you
The wedding was only a few weeks away
We were all prepared for our special day
When Mary who was the love of my life
The woman who was to be my wife
Told me that she was to have a child
Any other man might have gone wild
Because the baby she carried wasn’t mine
She told me God had given a sign
That she hadn’t been with another man
This was all part of God’s plan
Well I didn’t know what to do
Being a good God-fearing Jew
So I decided to send her away
She could go to Elizabeth’s and stay
While I organised a quiet way
To call off the wedding with least affray
Then an Angel visited me
The brightest light you ever did see
He told me what Mary said was true
He told me what I had to do
To believe the message of this Holy one
Her child would be God’s own Son
I wondered if I was going insane
But the wedding was back on again

Prayer

Father, sometimes I feel my hopes have been dashed. The things that I long for elude me and yet I know that you have plans for me, plans to give me hope and a future. Help me to trust in your purposes. Amen

 

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Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Journey daily with characters in the Nativity through video, reflection and prayer

 


TIP … from the blog
Theme: God makes all things new (Prayer sheet)

2017: Advent Hope #4


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

MARY’S HOPE

Luke 1:26–33  (NRSVA)

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

Thought

Has God ever surprised you with an unexpected gift of hope? Sometimes God’s plans for us surprise us because we have not even formulated a hope. Mary’s unexpected visitor brought her news she was unprepared for and yet that news brought hope to the earth.

The words of an Iona carol come to mind: “God surprises earth with heaven/Coming here on Christmas Day.” Allow God to surprise you!

Poem: Mary’s Diary

Dear Diary, the strangest thing happened today,
I was in my room, I’d just started to pray
When from the sky came a blinding light
There stood an Angel shining bright
I wondered how could this be
As the Angel spoke to me
He said “Mary be not afraid”
“In your womb God’s son is laid”
I wasn’t afraid, I was terrified
I was sure the Angel must have lied
I knew I couldn’t be pregnant you see
Why did this have to happen to me?
But the Angel promised it was true
My son would be the King of the Jews
Of all women, God had chosen me
This child would set his people free
What could I say, I couldn’t say no
So all I said was “Let it be so”.

Prayer

Lord God, you so often surprise us. Thank you for the unexpected gifts which bring hope and joy into our lives. Amen.

 

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Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Journey daily with characters in the Nativity through video, reflection and prayer

 

2017: Advent Hope #3


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

ELIZABETH’S HOPE

Luke 1:24–25  (NRSVA)

24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25 “This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”

Thought

Have you ever given up hope? Sometimes God answers our prayers when we have almost given up hope of an answer. Elizabeth had given up hope of conceiving a child and yet with God all things are possible.

What hopes do you have that are yet to be fulfilled, what prayers await an answer? Do not give up hope, trust in God!

Poem: Elizabeth’s Diary

Dear Diary,

      Things are quiet round here at the moment, but what do you expect when Zechariah’s lost his voice. And he says it’s women who do all the talking.
      Still can’t believe I’m pregnant, at my age, what you would call a miracle I suppose. Thought I felt it move today; maybe it’s just indigestion.
      Got a letter from our Mary – Poor lass is pregnant. That Joseph should have known better. Anyway she wants to come and visit for a while. Don’t blame her. A baby is not the sort of secret you can keep in a place like Nazareth. She should be here any day now.


Dear Diary,

      Mary came today and I definitely felt the baby move. It wasn’t indigestion; more like dancing to me. When I told Mary she began to sing a beautiful song like the one Hannah sang in the scriptures. I’ve a feeling this baby of Mary’s is going to be even more important than Hannah’s Samuel. Mary says she conceived of God and amazingly I believe her.
      Zechariah still said nothing but I know he thinks this is really special too.

Prayer

Father, we thank you that all things are possible and that our times are in your hands. We bring you the hopes and desires of our hearts, trusting that your purposes will be fulfilled in our lives. Amen

 

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Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Journey daily with characters in the Nativity through video, reflection and prayer

 

2017: Advent Hope #2


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

ADVENT HOPE

Isaiah 9:6–7  (NRSVA)

6 For a child has been born for us,
            a son given to us;
     authority rests upon his shoulders;
            and he is named
     Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
            Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually,
            and there shall be endless peace
     for the throne of David and his kingdom.
            He will establish and uphold it
     with justice and with righteousness
            from this time onwards and for evermore.
     The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Thought

What do you hope for during Advent? The hope of so many during Advent is that Santa will bring them the ideal present or that Christmas dinner will be cooked on time and yet surely the true hope of Advent is a time when God’s kingdom as described by Isaiah becomes a reality in the lives of us all.

Poem: Advent

In the services of Advent
No one listens to what they sing
Of a child born in a manger
Who came to be their King

In the festivities of the season
No one has the time to pause
To reflect upon the Christ child
They’re too busy with Santa Claus

In the merriment of the celebration
No one stops to question why
We are stuffing ourselves with turkey
Followed by mince pie

In the noise of the parties
No one can hear the voice
Of the Angels singing “peace on earth”
As the heavenly hosts rejoice

In the busyness of Christmas
See them rush right by the stall
In which lies a little baby
Who came to redeem us all

So in this season of Advent
Let us pause to remember Him
Whose birth it is we celebrate
Whose praise it is we sing

Prayer

Lord, as we journey through this season of hope let us hold on to the promises we find in scripture and look for your coming among us afresh and the establishment of your kingdom of justice and peace among all nations. Amen.

 

XTRA XTRA XTRA
Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Journey daily with characters in the Nativity through video, reflection and prayer

 

In the school of prayer with Ann Lewin

For this post I’ve selected an excerpt from Seasons of Grace by Ann Lewin that explores the similarities between prayer and bird watching. It’s taken from a chapter entitled, “Material for use in a Quiet Garden” and includes one of her poems, “Disclosure”.

May her words inspire us to contemplation and get us in the mood for prayer and a little bird watching of our own.

EXCERPT

Bird watching has taught me that all is gift. I may go out hoping to see a particular bird – but it may not be in evidence. I can’t control the movement of the birds. And if I am too intent on seeing one particular bird, I may miss a lot of other things that are around. Prayer is like that:

Disclosure
Prayer is like watching for the
Kingfisher. All you can do is
Be where he is likely to appear, and
Wait.
Often, nothing much happens;
There is space, silence and
Expectancy.
No visible sign, only the
Knowledge that he’s been there,
And may come again.
Seeing or not seeing cease to matter,
You have been prepared.
But sometimes, when you’ve almost
Stopped expecting it,
A flash of brightness
Gives encouragement.

So it’s all gift. The work we have to do is be prepared, in the right habitat, with the right disposition. And then we have to respond, with thanksgiving for God’s amazing love which cares even for the sparrows, endangered species that they are.

 
from Seasons of Grace by Ann Lewin, pp. 208-9
poem from Watching for the Kingfishers, p. 23

On kingfishers

I recently saw kingfisher nests in the Biesbosch on an outing with my Iona regional group, but no sightings of kingfishers, unfortunately.

The Dutch call these birds “ijsvogels” (ice birds). In France they are named after St. Martin of Tours: Martin Pêcheur (St. Martin’s fisher). I think I like the name “kingfisher” best.

Video of kingfishers building their nests

Digging deeper

– An in-depth discussion of the poem, “Disclosure”
Liturgy featuring some of Ann Lewin’s writing

See also In the school of prayer with Eddie Askew.