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.
 

God of solid joys


Mural in a side street close to the Scots International Church Rottedam  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Did you know?  
Last Sunday – the first Sunday after Easter – was celebrated in some churches as Holy Humour Sunday (also known as Bright Sunday, or Laughter Sunday).

 

Here is a prayer to the God of merriment by Bruce Prewer to launch the theme for May:

JOYFUL!


Prayer

God of merriment,
for whom the morning stars sing together
and all the children of God shout for joy,
help us keep our sense of humour.

When those around us get hyped-up
about the latest scientific discovery or technological wizardry,
help us to see the comical side of human self importance.

When we take ourselves too seriously,
as if the church were built on our devout efforts,
enable us to chuckle at our folly.

When evil parades itself in finery and thinks it owns the world,
or when untimely death appears to cut off saints in their prime,
fill us with the robust joy of Easter.

God of ‘solid joys and lasting pleasures’,
because of all your victories in Christ Jesus,
liberate us to share in the song of the morning stars
and the joyful shouts of the children of God.
Today and forever more. Amen!

— written by Bruce Prewer, and posted on http://www.bruceprewer.com/
 


 
From the blog
The Gift #9 : Joy
Nature bringing joy

New dust


(Photo: Albert Goedkoop)
 

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

Prayer for Lent

O God, who makes all things new,
new stars, new dust, new life;
take my heart,
every hardened edge and measured beat,
and create something new in me.

I need your newness, God,
the rough parts of me made smooth;
the stagnant, stirred;
the stuck, freed;
the unkind, forgiven.

And then, by the power of your Spirit,
I need to be turned toward Love again.
Amen.

 
by Pamela C. Hawkins, in The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent (Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books, 2009), p. 30. Posted on Prayer and Creeds
 


 
From the blog
Theme: God makes all things new (Prayer sheet)
Precious dust
Forget not
 

Not deserted


Ethiopian blessing  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Prayer of Lament

inspired by Psalm 77: 1-20

God, we call out to you!
From the depths of our hearts, we cry,
“Lord, hear our prayer!”

We are consumed by grief.
The events of the past few days have overwhelmed us —
it’s hard to sleep,
it’s hard to eat,
it’s even hard to pray.

Where are you, God?

Deep down, we know that you love us —
we’ve experienced your mercy and your faithfulness in the past,
and it has sustained us through many difficult times.
We refuse to believe that you have deserted us,
or that you are unaware of the pain that we’re feeling.
And so we turn to you again,
longing for your presence,
looking for your comfort and peace.

Surround us with your unfailing love.
Remind us that you alone are God,
and that you hold us in the palm of your hand.
Give us courage and strength to face the days ahead,
and strengthen us in the knowledge that we do not face them alone.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, we pray.

Amen.

 
source: re-worship.blogspot.com
 


 
From the blog
He suffered series (Holy Week 2018)

3 Prayers for Lent


 

Lent is a time to get real and take stock. Here are 3 prayers that you might find helpful in your Lenten journey this year.

 


#1

God of the desert,
as we follow Jesus into the unknown,
may we recognize the tempter when he comes;
let it be your bread we eat,
your world we serve
and you alone we worship.
 

A New Zealand Prayer Book, from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #770
 


#2

when the world is no longer a paradise
and creation shows its full power over us still
and we are brought down to size on this small planet of ours

we worship

when the memories linger of the past
and war shapes us beyond our knowing
and conflict becomes a story of life

we worship

when the way is more barren than beautiful
when the path is more a climb than a stroll
when the desert expands and the horizon stretches

we worship

we worship
because we can

we worship
because we hope

we worship
because we know our vulnerability

when things shift
and we need to hold on

we worship

it is the only strength we have for the journey

welcome to Lent

 
by Roddy Hamilton, and posted on the Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website, available on re:worship.
 


#3

“Lord, hear my prayer; do not hide your face from me in the day of my trouble; my heart is scorched and withered like grass; I have become like an owl in the wilderness; I have eaten ashes for bread, and mingled my drink with my tears.” (Psalm 102:1, 2, 4, 6)

Lord,
take my small offering of self-denial this Lent,
as a sign of my great longing for you.
I hunger for your presence in my life,
and I thirst for your love.
I hunger for justice for those who are wronged and oppressed,
and I thirst for your peace.
I hunger for a glimpse of your glory,
and I thirst for your stillness in my heart.
God of giving, God of longing, God of pain,
I hunger for you.

 
by Angela Ashwin, from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #774
 

Sola gratia – Deo gratias


Water lilies – in and on the water  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 
 

The words gratia and gratias point to a connection between grace and gratitude.

 
 
To bring to a close our reflections on the theme of “grace”, I’ve selected some Latin terms, a song, a reading, a bit of church history and a prayer of thanksgiving by Thomas Ken, writer of the traditional doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
 


By grace alone (Sola gratia)

[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
 

 

“Only by grace” by Gerrit Gustafson

Thanks be to God (Deo gratias).

 
Note:
Sola gratia (“by grace alone”) is a foundational principle of the Reformation, along with two other core beliefs, Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”) and Sola fide (“by faith alone”).
 


Giver of All Good Things

Giver of all good things, we thank you:
for health and vigour,
for the air that gives the breath of life,
the sun that warms us,
and the good food that makes us strong;
for happy homes and for the friends we love,
for all that makes it good to live.

Make us thankful and eager to repay,
by cheerfulness and kindliness,
and by a readiness to help others.

Freely we have received; let us freely give,
in the name of him who gave his life for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.
 

by Thomas Ken (1637-1711)
 
source: re-worship.blogspot.com
 


 
From the blog
Ancient Irish Prayer
 

Looking forward looking back

 
With 2019 around the corner, let me share an overview of the posts that attracted the most visits to the Prayer Matters website over the past year.

For some reason, these blog posts keep on giving.

Top 10

  1. 3 Prayers for endings and beginnings
  2. Give me a heart of flesh
  3. Theme: God makes all things new
  4. Circle me, Lord
  5. In the school of prayer with Ann Lewin
  6. In the school of prayer with Eddie Askew
  7. Theme for January 2018: Heart
  8. 3 Prayers for Wayfarers
  9. Theme: Shelter under his wings
  10. Theme: Ever sustaining
     

Hopes for the new year

I hope for more regular subscribers in the new year, and for the blog to continue to minister to our Presbytery and beyond.

 
In closing, a powerful blessing by Joyce Rupp, originally published in 2004, and as inspiring as ever.

Feel free to pass the blessing on.  Maybe this post will reach the top 10 in 2019, just as the final post in 2017 made the No. 1 spot in 2018.
 


Blessing for the New Year

 
I hope for you in this new year

… that the single, most significant dimension of life
is your relationship with the Source of Goodness
who never ceases to sing love songs to your soul

… that you find meaning, purpose, and vitality
in what you do daily

… that you treasure your loved ones
and let them know how dear they are to you

… that you make choices and decisions
that reflect your truest self

… that you look in the mirror at least once a day
and smile in happy amazement

… that you remember relationships are what count above all else –
more than work or money,
or all the material things we spend so much time tending

… that you live in an uncluttered manner,
enjoying the freedom to be content

… that you keep your sense of humor
when things don’t go the way you want

… that you find adventure in each new day
and marvel at the wonders of creation
which constantly present themselves to you

… that you never give up on yourself
when others turn away or do not understand

… that you are attentive to the health
of your body, mind and spirit

… that you take risks and accept
the growth-full challenges that come to you

… that you draw on your inner strength and resiliency
when you are in need

… that you carry peace within yourself,
allowing it to slip into the hearts of others
so our planet becomes a place
where violence, division, and war are no more

 
by Joyce Rupp. Posted on Joyce Rupp’s website.
 


 
P.S. “Looking forward looking back” is also the title of the Anniversary booklet we published this year, celebrating the 375th anniversary of the Scots Church in Rotterdam.

Ding! Dong! Curiosity


come on in …
 

My Christmas reflection

from the lessons and carols service in Rotterdam on Sunday, 23 December 2018.

 
I love books, especially books full of ooh! and aha! moments.

This book, How to be an explorer of the world is one of them. It’s full of practical projects designed to reconnect us with the wide-eyed wonder we had as children.

Wonder in the little things, the seemingly simple things of life.

But if you get up close and personal you discover they are far from simple. Each living thing is a wonderland.

Take a new-born baby … in many ways like any other baby, in need of love and nurture; in so many ways, wholly unique and unpredictable.

Take the geranium in my kitchen or the orchid collection in Romina’s living room; in many ways like other plants, in need of care and attention; in so many ways, wholly unique.

Just like children exploring the world, discovering things for the first time, it’s good to have some ‘firsts’ of our own on a regular basis … to set ourselves up for regular doses of wonder.

The key is curiosity.

Like Mary’s curiosity that kept her from opting out in her encounter with the angel and that prompted her visit to Elizabeth.

Like the shepherds, confronted by an army of good news angels, who left their flocks to search for the baby in a manger.

Like the wise men, who were curious about the meaning of the star that appeared out of nowhere and set off to honour the new born king of the Jews they read about in their ancient writings.

Naturally there were risks and no doubt they were afraid. How did they overcome the fear and come into action?

Somehow they let their curiosity and not their fear dictate their response. They found the faith and courage to explore the world that God was bringing into being, partly through their willingness to play their part.

May God bless us all with a good dose of curiosity this Christmas, so the familiar and the fearful do not trap us in a ‘that’s the way it is’ and ‘that’s the way it always will be’ mindset. Instead, may we find the grace to go deeper and maybe find new, more life-giving ways to celebrate Christmas and so discover anew the wonderland that Christmas is meant to be – whatever our age, whatever our circumstances.
 


A prayer

It may seem naive,
   in a world of grief,
      to choose to live in joy;

It may seem foolish,
   in a world where solemnity is power,
      to sing and dance to a different tune;

It may seem cruel,
   in a world of suffering and injustice,
      to speak of light and celebration;

But you have come, Jesus,
   to bring joy into our grief,
      light into our darkness,
      singing into our mourning;
   and it is an act of healing and proclamation
      to believe and embrace the joy you offer.

Joy to the world!
   The Lord is come!
      Hallelujah!

Amen.

written by John van de Laar, published on the Sacredise.com website.
 


 
From the blog
Nature bringing joy