In the clouds


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Let me encourage you with these words, as Paul suggests:

 
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever.

Therefore encourage one another with these words.

 


A prayer

Not when the mountains shake,
or the seas roar,
or the clouds part to reveal You,
Holy One,
but here and now,
on this one ordinary day,
we will wait and watch
for You will surely come to us.
Amen.

by Ann Siddall
posted on the Stillpoint Spirituality Centre and Faith Community website.
 


Get inspired

Cloud Appreciation Society Manifesto

3 Prayers for Advent


 

To kick off this month’s theme, Prepare, here are 3 short prayers to ready our hearts for Christmas and for Jesus’ Kingdom to come, now and in the future.

 
(Links to additional resources for Advent included below.)
 


Prayer of Invocation

(inspired by Matthew 11:3-5)

O God,
we come today echoing John the Baptist’s question to your Beloved Child:
“Are you the one who is to come?”
Give us eyes to see and ears to hear the answer for ourselves:
In the work of justice: Christ!
In the practice of mercy: Christ!
In good news for the poor: Christ!
In the vision of peace: Christ!
Make us ready, with open hearts and joyful spirits,
to follow in Christ’s Way.
Amen.

by The Rev. Susan A. Blain, and posted on the United Church of Christ’s Worship Ways website.
 


Prayer of Confession

It is never easy for us to confess our sins, Waiting God.
There are the hurts we have caused to our families and friends,
     which we would like to forget.
There are those we believe are impossible to love,
     and so we don’t try.
There are people who live on the edge of our society,
     and we ignore their cries for help.

Forgive us, God who comes near to us.
When we have lost our way, show us yours.
Lead us in humility down the streets of your kingdom.
Teach us your truth,
     so we might be able to keep your Word,
     revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

by Thom Shuman. Source: re-worship.blogspot.com
 


Prayers of the People for All Ages

We have listened to God’s Word.
Now let us come to God full of hope for all our needs:

For a real sense of excited anticipation of the coming of Jesus
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord hear our prayer

For peace in our homes, our schools and our communities
as we approach the Christmas season
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord hear our prayer

For peace and harmony in countries torn apart by war around the world, that weapons be remade into garden tools
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord hear our prayer

That we always learn to be alert and aware of God’s presence in our daily lives
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord hear our prayer

God of light,
we bring these prayers to you through Jesus Christ our Lord
Amen.

~ from Children’s Liturgy of the Word, First Sunday of Advent Year A. Posted on re:worship.blogspot.com


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

These days there is so much material available online to accompany us on our journey through the season of Advent.

Here are a few examples:
Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Pray as you go Advent retreat
Abbey of the Arts online Advent retreat

I also commend our 2017 Advent series on Faith, Hope and Joy, featuring meditations by three ministers in our Presbytery.

 

Summer-friendly spiritual practices


‘Strangers you meet on the street can turn into good neighbours’  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Have you considered activities like meeting people, gardening, swimming and journaling as a spiritual practice?

 

Incidentally, this is the 150th Prayer Matters blog post. Thank you for sharing in the spiritual practice that is this blog.

 

Gretchen Champoux … on gardening

Gardening connects us to life’s natural rhythms, the gifts of each season, the wonder of creation and the natural world. For me, gardening and gratitude go hand in hand … I can’t help but experience the garden. When I do, I am pulled to the present moment so much so that I can paradoxically lose sense of time — especially if I’m digging away!

https://www.asacredjourney.net/
 

Sharon Salzberg … on swimming

I thought of meditation when Willow described her experience (swimming laps). When she slowed down and focused only on the movement and the effects it had on her body, she was able to let go of the doubts, fears, and comparisons in order to experience what the body presented to her at that moment. The experience of being buoyed along in the water, of her muscles moving through it, was a pure sensation of being alive, once she got her comparing mind out of the way.

https://onbeing.org
 

Austin Kleon … on journaling

When I write in my diary, I often try to start with Nicholson Baker’s advice:

If you ask yourself, ‘What’s the best thing that happened today?’ it actually forces a certain kind of cheerful retrospection that pulls up from the recent past things to write about that you wouldn’t otherwise think about. If you ask yourself, ‘What happened today?’ it’s very likely that you’re going to remember the worst thing, because you’ve had to deal with it – you’ve had to rush somewhere or somebody said something mean to you – that’s what you’re going to remember. But if you ask what the best thing is, it’s going to be some particular slant of light, or some wonderful expression somebody had, or some particularly delicious salad. I mean, you never know …

 
https://austinkleon.com
 


From the blog
Up to us – on the joys of a walking holiday
 

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
 

A prayer to the God of summer


A local cat, in a summer mood  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

When Nancy L. Agneberg mentioned A summer prayer by Joyce Rupp in a recent Monk in the World guest post on ‘Summer Spirituality’, I was intrigued. I managed to find the prayer in full on Nancy’s own blog, in a post dating back to 2015.

I commend both Joyce Rupp’s prayer and Nancy’s reflections, as you give God space and opportunity to minister to you through summer’s unique gifts and challenges.

 

A Summer Prayer

by Joyce Rupp

May you breathe in the beauty of summer
    with its power of transformation.
May this beauty permeate all that feels un-beautiful in you.

May the God of summer give us beauty.

May you seek and find spaces of repose
    during these summer months.
May these moments refresh and restore
    the tired places within you.

May the God of summer give us rest.

May you be open to times of celebration and recreation
    that are so much a part of summer.
May you find happiness in these times of play and leisure.

May the God of summer give us joy.

May your eyes see the wonders of summer’s colors.
May these colors delight you
    and entice you into contemplation and joy.

May the God of summer give us inner light.

May you feel energy of summer rains penetrating thirsty gardens,
    golf courses, lawns and farmlands.
May these rains remind you that your inner thirst needs quenching.
May your inner self be refreshed, restored, and renewed.

May the God of summer give us what we need for healing.

May you savor fresh produce that comes to your table
    and enjoy the fruits of summer’s bounty.

May the God of summer give us a sense of satisfaction
    in the works of our hands.

May you find shelter
    when the stormy skies of summer threaten your safety.

May the God of summer give us shelter
    when inner storms threaten our peace of mind and heart.

May you enjoy the unexpected and find surprises of beauty and
    happiness as you travel the roads on summer vacation.

May the God of summer lead us to amazing discoveries
    as we travel the inner roads of our soul as well.

 
from The Circle of Life, The Heart’s Journey Through the Seasons by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr

***

To learn more about Joyce Rupp, visit her website.
 


From the blog
The wells of salvation
From parched to satisfied

Ask the animals


Pigeon talk in Malta  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

But ask the animals what they think —
     let them teach you;
     let the birds tell you what’s going on.
Put your ear to the earth —
     learn the basics.
Listen —
     the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories.
Isn’t it clear that they all know and agree
     that God is sovereign,
     that he holds all things in his hand —
Every living soul, yes,
     every breathing creature?

 

Job 12:7-10 (The Message)

 


Extras

 

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.
 

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
 

Wilderness woes


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

While searching for ‘dry wilderness’ on my go-to online prayer resource – the treasure trove, re-worship.blogspot.com – I found this call to worship by Rev. Nathan Decker.

It is inspired by Isaiah 35 and recognizes both the reality and pain of the wilderness experience and our sustaining hope in God for a life beyond the wilderness.

 

Call to Worship

(inspired by Isaiah 35: 1-10)

Too long have we walked this dry desert wilderness
    searching for salvation.
 
We’ve drunk the cup of sorrow,
burned our feet upon the sands of misery,
and watched as our children were devoured
    by jackals, lions, and beasts.

 
“Be Strong! Do not fear! Here is our God!
God will come and save you!”
Today, we walk in the Holy Way,
    the highway of the wise!
 
Where the lame leap as deer!
Where grateful blind eyes see colors!

 
And the speechless sing out to our merciful Lord!
Blessed be the Lord our God!
 
Praise the Lord, O Zion!

 
written by the Rev. Nathan Decker, and posted on the Discipleship Ministries website of the United Methodist Church in the US.


Tips on searching re-worship blog

The search box on the website is very powerful. Type in a string of keywords to find posts that contain all the words you’ve specified. To exclude words like ‘index’ or ‘resource’ (handy lists of posts arranged by type or theme), add -[keyword] to the search box, e.g. -index -resource, and those posts will be filtered out.

Also check out Christine Longhurst’s tips on How to use the re:worship blog.
 


From the Prayer Matters blog:
also see Call of the wild ones and Wild animal praise

Heart’s desire


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

Take delight in the Lord,
      and he will give you
      the desires of your heart
.

(Psalm 37:4)

Reflection

The secret is to connect with – and pursue – the desires that God has placed in our heart.

Recommended listening

Ashton Gustafson in conversation with John Philip Newell, the celebrated author of Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality.