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

 

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

 

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.
 

Thank you. For dust


(Photo: Albert Goedkoop)

 

Easter blessings to you all.

In light of the resurrection, here’s a different take on the word, “dust”.
 


A poem: Dusting

by Marilyn Nelson, 1946

 
Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

For algae spores
and fungus spores,
bonded by vital
mutual genetic cooperation,
spreading their
inseparable lives
from equator to pole.

My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rain:
Thank you. For dust.
 

source: www.poets.org
 


Extras
Article: The Science of dust, Picasso’s favourite phenomenon

 

Dust and transformation


(Photo: Albert Goedkoop)

 

Ash Wednesday was weeks ago, I know.

Still, you might derive some spiritual nourishment from this Ash Wednesday benediction, even now in Holy Week, as Jesus’ death looms large and his victory over sin and death is imminent.


Ash Wednesday Benediction

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.

Let the memory of your incomplete humanity
awaken you to the wonders, joys, sorrows, and pain of life.

Let the ashes you wear be the ashes of transformation;
of awakening to the beauty and love of seizing the moment
and living it to the fullest.

Let it be said of you that here in this little part of eternity
that you lived fully, loved extravagantly
and helped humanity evolve into all that God dreamed we can be!

You are fearfully and wonderfully made
In the image of the ONE who is was and ever more shall be
Creator, Christ and Spirit ONE, Amen.

by Pastor Dawn, posted on pastordawn.
 


 
Extra
The Dust Storm in Prayer (on Ignatian prayer)
 


 
From the blog
Holy Week posts from 2017
 

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