A new nature


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Walking through the Trompenburg Gardens and Arboretum in Rotterdam I came upon this cracked stone table, with moss growing in the grooves, marking the damage and in some way repairing it.

It reminds me of kintsugi, the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery, with beautiful seams of gold filling the cracks, visibly incorporating the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it.

Here is a prayer of confession by Cheryl Lawrie that invites us to bring the cracks in our lives and in our world to God for his radical restoration.

This is the first post in the new series, “Nature”.
 

Prayer of Confession

(inspired by Mark 1:21-28)

God,
we thank you for this extraordinary world
and its reminders of resilience, grace, hope and life:
for when grass shoots break through concrete
when the sun emerges after storms
for when people offer laughter in deep sadness
In these moments we see glimpses of who you are –
and we are grateful.

Yet if we reduce you to being like the cycle of nature
or the best of humankind,
we diminish your power to make the impossible real:
to break apart the impenetrable evils of oppression,
to cast out the very real fears that paralyse us
to banish the insidious demons of judgement and worthlessness.

Forgive us God when we do not trust you to deal with the unspeakable awfulness in our lives and world. In the silence we name the parts of our lives and our world that we believe are too broken to ever be made whole.

Cast out our demons, Lord,
Make us new again

Forgive us when contribute to the brokenness of the world and the lives of people around us. In the silence we name the things we have done that separate us from you and from others.

Cast out our demons, Lord,
Make us new again

Forgive us when we trust darkness more than we trust your light. In the silence we name the things we think we need to keep hidden.

Cast out our demons, Lord,
Make us new again

Scripture says that those who are in Christ are a new creation;
everything old has passed away;
see, the new has come!

Hear then Christ’s word of grace to us:
‘Your sins are forgiven.’

Thanks be to God.

 
~ written by Cheryl Lawrie and posted on [hold this space].


see also
Theme: God makes all things new (Prayer sheet)
3 Prayers for endings and beginnings
 

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.
 

Life that gives life


Tulliallen Castle, spring 2018  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:21-22)

Prayer

Holy Spirit, the life that gives life,
You are the cause of all movement;
You are the breath of all creatures;
You are the salve that purifies our souls;
You are the ointment that heals our wounds;
You are the fire that warms our hearts;
You are the light that guides our feet.
Let all the world praise you.

 
by Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
from 2000 Years of Prayer compiled by Michael Counsell, p. 122
 


See also: Testing ground
 

Pray: ‘Thy kingdom come’


 

Have you heard? A worldwide prayer initiative called “Thy kingdom come” starts today, running from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost.

Originally a Church of England initiative, it has now been embraced by many other denominations. For more information, see the official website.

It’s not too late. Officially or unofficially, we can all join this global wave of prayer right where we are. God is listening.

 
Other useful links

 


An offering prayer

(inspired by Matthew 6: 10)

In this world: kingdom living.
In our mouths: kingdom praises.
In our hearts: kingdom goals.
In our hands: kingdom gifts.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
Amen.

written by Carol Penner, and posted on Leading in Worship.
 

Pause for breath …


Floating ‘islands in the stream’, Rotterdam  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

With Pentecost around the corner, I’ve selected “breath” as our theme of the month for May. To launch this series of posts, here is a prayer by Amy Loving that engages our breath to help us better connect with the gift and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Breath Prayer

(inspired by Romans 8:22-27)

The Apostle Paul tells us that the Spirit of God prays for us “with sighs too deep for words”. Through the Life-Giving Breath of God, we are given all that we need. Let us breathe deeply – inhaling the good gifts that God provides, and exhaling all of the things that we need to release.

Let us breathe in strength.
(Pause for breath…)
And, let us exhale our exhaustion.
(Pause for breath…)

Let us breathe in freedom.
(Pause for breath…)
And, let us exhale all that holds us back.
(Pause for breath…)

Let us breathe in a new sense of direction.
(Pause for breath…)
And, let us exhale the paths we no longer want to use.
(Pause for breath…)

Let us breathe in hope.
(Pause for breath…)
And, let us exhale self-doubt.
(Pause for breath…)

Let us breathe in unconditional love.
(Pause for breath…)
And, let us exhale distrust and hate.
(Pause for breath…)

Holy Spirit, let us feel the mighty rush of your presence in this place. Blow away our fears and worries, and help us to breathe in your gifts of new life. Amen.

by Amy Loving, and posted on The Worship Closet website


From the blog
3 Prayers to the Sacred Trinity
 

In a new light


Foto Museum, Rotterdam  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Prayer

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

As the light from that first Easter sunrise streams from its distant horizon into our own life and time, we feel its touch, its warmth, its glow; and we draw from its energy, and we begin to see the world around us in a new light. In the light of your love.

So help us to walk in this light, in your light … May our actions be in step with our beliefs. May we walk the talk. May we keep no dark secrets, nor hide anything away – especially not the light you now place within our hearts.

Help us, too, to reach out in the light of love to others: to those who still walk in darkness; to those who live in the shadows of poverty and injustice; and to those who need help to see the Way.

Light up our life, Lord,
that we may shine like stars,
in brilliance,
in wonder,
but most of all, in love.
Amen

 
by Brian Draper
posted on the Monthly Prayers page of the Christian Aid website.
 

Resurrection light

Sun detail from mosaic wall, Scots International Church Rotterdam
Mosaic wall, Scots International Church Rotterdam  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

I make no apologies for including another Easter prayer, as we are still in the season of Easter, enjoying the afterglow.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

Pastoral Prayer for Easter – and beyond

When everything was dark
and it seemed that the sun would never shine again,
your love broke through.

Your love was too strong,
too wide,
too deep
for death to hold.

The sparks cast by your love
dance and spread
and burst forth
with resurrection light.

Gracious God,
We praise you for the light of new life
made possible through Jesus.

We praise you for the light of new life
that shone on the first witnesses of resurrection.

We praise you for the light of new life
that continues to shine in our hearts today.

We pray that the Easter light of life, hope and joy
will live in us each day;
and that we will be bearers of that light
into the lives of others. Amen.

by Rev. Michaela Youngson, posted on Preach the Story.


From the blog:
Morning prayer #1
 

Within the ranks of caring angels

This illustration dates from 2003, created to accompany a tribute to the “angels on assignment” who ministered to my dad and my family when we met up in Cape Town for a last Christmas together just weeks before my dad died. The illustration features a wood-carving that I bought during that trip and that now hangs in my front window.

 
 
Here is a prayer by Bruce Prewer for all those angels, human and heavenly, ministering in needy situations here on earth.

Prayer of Intercession

The word angel originally meant “messenger.”
For God’s angels on this earth,
let us now pray.

 
We thank you, loving God,
that you do not leave us without helpers.
Thank you for your special agents, those guardian angels —
both human and heavenly — who never cease to care.

Wherever there are situations of confusion,
where doubts proliferate and anxieties spawn,
please send in your angels of light.

Wherever people are crippled by guilt,
or deeply regret damage to others which they can never rectify,
send in your angels of mercy.

Wherever there is arrogance and deceit,
corruption and rapacious greed,
send in your fiery angels of judgement.

Wherever ignorance reigns
or superstition cripples individuals or communities,
please send in your angels of truth.

Wherever persons or nations become obsessed with aggression,
or resort to terrorism and warfare,
send in your agents of peace and goodwill.

Wherever families are at loggerheads,
or in the workplace folk feel alienated from one another,
send in your angels of reconciliation.

Wherever people see their future as bleak or dangerous,
and fall into the trap of inertia or despair,
please send in your angels of hope.

Wherever the church becomes exclusive,
or gets caught up in its own regulations,
      traditions, or inflexible dogma,
send in your angels of reformation.

Wherever ministers lose their passion for the Gospel,
or congregations become self-satisfied or apathetic,
please send in your angels of rebuke.

Wherever there are people who are afflicted by disease
or injured in accidents,
struggle against mental ills
or suffer from criminal violence,
send in your angels of healing.

Wherever the dying endure fears or pain,
and the bereaved either shed the hot tears of a fresh grief
or endure the long-term loss of a partner or friend,
send in your angels of comfort.

Loving God,
Lord of all the messengers of grace on earth and in heaven,
hear our prayers and enlist us, please God,
within the ranks of your caring angels.
Through Jesus Christ your only True Son,
our Saviour and our inspiration.
Amen!

written by Bruce Prewer, and posted on Bruce Prewer’s website.


Have you got your next angel assignment yet?


from the blog: Fierce love #2
 

Radiance, communion, energy


Gibraltar  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
What if Jesus had not risen from the dead?

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul explores this question at some length.

Here is a prayer by Brother Roger of Taizé using this question to celebrate some of the glorious fruits of the resurrection for us personally.

An Easter prayer

If you were not risen,
Lord Christ, to whom would we go
to discover a radiance
of the face of God?

If you were not risen,
we would not be together
seeking your communion.
We would not find in your presence
forgiveness,
wellspring of a new beginning.

If you were not risen,
where would we draw the energy
for following you
right to the end of our existence,
for choosing you again and anew?

by Brother Roger of Taizé

 
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #815


From the blog
Theme: God makes all things new (Prayer sheet)
In the school of prayer with Anselm
 

In the school of prayer with Angela Ashwin

Books by Angela Ashwin
3 books by Angela Ashwin from my library

 

Angela Ashwin teaches us how to write beautiful, evocative prayers that connect with our everyday experience. But she is also an advocate for using “borrowed words” to enrich our (prayer) lives.

Companion

I first came across Angela Ashwin through her book, A little Book of Healing Prayer: my companion during the 5 days I spent at my mother’s deathbed. How comforting to have Angela Ashwin and others lend me their words while in the “valley of the shadow of death”.

One of the prayers seemed particularly apt – my mother was ever the seemstress – and I included it on the funeral service sheet:

O living God,
draw all the fragments of my life
into the bright mosaic of your love;
weave all the tangled threads of my desires
into the tapestry you are spreading,
like a rainbow,
on the loom of the world;
and help me celebrate
the many facets
and the dazzling colours
of your peace.

written by Julie M. Hulme
from A little Book of Healing Prayer by Angela Ashwin, #64

Ministry of “borrowed words”

A few years later, while on a trip to Edinburgh, I came across The Book of a Thousand Prayers, compiled by Angela Ashwin. I immediately bought two copies, one for myself and one for a friend. Prayers from this volume regularly make it onto the blog. (Maybe you’ve noticed and been inspired to buy a copy of your own.)

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to The Book of a Thousand Prayers (p.11) that explains the value and ministry of “borrowed words”:

We do not always need another person’s words when we pray. But there can be times when a prayer by someone else expresses our concerns and desires better than we could do ourselves and becomes a source of inspiration and strength. Or we may ‘grow into’ a prayer which has tremendously high ideals, such as the one by John Wesley: ‘Lord God, I am no longer my own but yours.’ Even though we have not ourselves arrived at such dizzy heights of self-giving, the very act of using a prayer like this helps us to come closer to its aspirations.

There can also be a sense of freedom in using a set prayer, because the words are given, and we simply let go into their flow and meaning. This is especially helpful in times of stress or doubt. The familiar words of a well-known prayer, or the challenges of a modern one, bring us back to our roots in God and remind us that we belong to the great body of Christ’s people. A written prayer links us not only with its author but also with all the other peoeple who have used it, so that, in a sense, we are never alone when we pray.

We usually think of prayer as an offering we make to God – and so it is. But it is much more. Prayer is God’s gift to us, a banquet of good things to feed our inner life as we respond to the invitation to his feast of peace, forgiveness, challenge and love.


 
To close, a prayer by Angela Ashwin that works as a mini-retreat:

God of delight, Source of all joy,
thank you for making me part of the web of life,
depending on the rhythms and fruits of the earth for my existence.
Help me to be wholly present to you,
now, in this place,
where my feet are on the ground,
and where I am surrounded by creation’s gifts,
from concrete to clouds,
if I have the wit to notice them!

from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #210


From the blog
In the school of prayer with Anselm
In the school of prayer with Eddie Askew
In the school of prayer with Ann Lewin