Tag Archives: prayer

Take the Time

See the source imageBusy.  Busy.  Busy.  It has become the hum that sounds throughout American life and dare I say, the world.  Now, we wrestle to make time for the Eternal.  We struggle to squeeze the omnipresent God into overcrowded schedules, to follow Christ in overcommitted lives.  We have signed up for newsletters, coupons and alerts.  We have raised our hands for so many things that it can be hard to see the hand of Christ waving and saying, “Hey.  Over here!”

Getting our attention is one thing. Christ holding our attention is another.  We see Jesus off in the distance and we say to ourselves, “I’ll catch up.  Just let me finish this last thing.”  Because we have time, right?

Jesus reminds us in Mark 1.29-39 that despite our schedules, it is important to take time for the sacred, that we cannot truly and fully function without taking a break.  And Jesus did it.  Preaching and teaching, healing and delivering, Jesus is moving from one city to the next.  He is needed and yet, he realizes that he has needs as well.

Giving our time in service to others is important but so is taking the time to pray, to listen and discern, to reflect and worship—away from the hustle and bustle, apart from the push and pull of the world’s commitments, aside from the tug of our family ties.  Even Jesus, the very Son of God, affirmed the need to be still.  Yes, I know, you don’t have the time.  So, take the time!

 

 

A Prayer to the Peerless God

See the source imageThis morning, I was afforded the opportunity to provide a prayer for a gathering of faith leaders from Washington, D.C.  We were all invited by current Mayor Bowser and former mayor Anthony Williams.  We joined together in celebration of African American history and heritage as well as to reflect on the strides that this community has made against all odds.  I offered this prayer to attendees:

Peerless God, who is in all and through all and yet, above us all, still You do not look down Your nose to judge whose better or worse.  For better or for worse, You take us all.  Because You created us wonderfully and fearfully, beautifully and equally, intentionally differently, each uniquely Your vision.  You are the familiar in each of our faces.  You created a family— not a bunch of races.

Forgive us for color- coding Your image, painting You into a corner, pushing You to choose sides.  Because You are either with us or them.  Omnipresent, we manage to put You in the middle.

Yes, God, “choose this day whom You will serve.”

Forgive us for appropriating Your power, masquerading in divinity;

The Word made beige, black, brown, red, yellow and white.

Forgive us for our hubris, for subjecting the Imago Dei to our ego, for making You a little lower than us.

Still, You love us all and You love us well, better than we love ourselves, our neighbor, the stranger and the immigrant.  Clearly, You see and sup with those who sacrifice, who rub nickels together and start fires of entrepreneurship, which keeps the family going, keeps the community growing, and spins this cycle of reaping and sowing.

You are the strength of those who built up a land and pulled up a people with calloused hands, with lacerated backs carried cotton and babies, whose voice was not taken, still telling their story and singing our song with voices not shaken, “Swing low, sweet chariot,” who saw a vision through sunset eyes.  Still, they rise again and again.  Because joy comes in the morning.

So, we have gathered to applaud Your work—because You have been with us through it all.  Valleys and mountains, from living water to colored fountains, we taste and still see that the Lord is good.[1]  Because a resurrected people cannot be kept down for long.  Now, help us to live up to all that You see in us.  No competition, one people, one vision.

In the name of the one who raised me up, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

__________________

[1] Psalm 34.8

A Thanksgiving prayer at Christmastime

See the source imageGod in the flesh, Christ- Child, mysterious majesty, today we remember the wonder of Your birth.   We lower our gaze to look at God face- to- face. The beginning meets our start.  This is the heart of the gospel.

Because God has come to the lowly, to and through the least likely.  What manner of God is this?  What deity would do such a thing?  Thank You for turning our world upside down and turning our idea of power on its head.

It is my prayer that You might give us the peace to make room for You today.  For You are going door to door, heart to heart and head to head.  This is a continual fight against darkness.  Oh, let there be light in us.

And might You find a resting place, a hiding place, a place to come forth in our lives.  Let your manger be our heart this Christmas.  Amen.

A prayer at Advent to God in the flesh

See the source imageGod in the flesh, who reigns from a lowly manger, not draped in fine robes but wrapped in milk rags, who calls into question our lavish lifestyles, our lust for power and the images we create of it.

God in the flesh, who came not flanked with angels, who brought not the might of heaven but the strongest, truest and deepest of loves, a love that coos us and woos us to Your side, a love to be held and nurtured.

We honor You.  God in Christ- child, we praise Your name.  We bow our heads and scratch them because we cannot comprehend Your commitment to us or this love that never fails.[i]  We don’t understand how You could get that close to us and we are so grateful that You would come near to us.  Our praying hands beckon You to come closer.  We invite You to lean in and to listen to our heart’s cries:

God, come into the prayers that we offer.  Step up and into times when we need You most, where we expect You are least likely to be and would not see You coming.  Do what we believe that You cannot, would not, have not, should not.  Break the commandments that we have for You.

God, come and see.  Get up close to us, Your Spirit peeping, peering into our lives.  Show us what You are so excited about, that You left heaven about, that You have no doubt about us.

God, come and see about me, her and him.  We put our hands together and ask that You fight for us, make right for us this human condition, that conditions us to believe that we have to be bigger and better than our neighbor, even our sister and brother.

Finally, give us the grace to lay down our burdens and measuring sticks so that we can see Your face in our neighbor as if our next of kin.  Help us to meet this challenge with praying hands.  In the name of Christ, we pray.  Amen.

_____________________

[i] First Corinthians 13.8

A Prayer at Advent to the Shepherd- King

See the source imageShepherd- King, who tends to our souls, our deepest selves, our most pressing needs, who leads us and yet followed our entry into the world through a woman.

Able to part the clouds and ride on the wings of the wind, You join us in pulling mother’s skirt, holding her hand to walk and we are all thumbs at the thought of it.  Thousands of years later, we are still unable to grasp this reality. Not just God in the flesh but God face- to- face on a daily basis.  No high horse or throne.  Surely, we did not see this coming; the God who would share our face.  Forgive us then for looking away from our neighbor, the immigrant and the stranger— because they do not bear resemblance to us.

Dirt mixed with Imago Dei, the divine image is not pristine but will need to be wiped clean, will spit and babble like we do. Will fall and spirit will skin knees.  The hands that hold the whole world will need to be picked up and cleaned up.  Forgive us for not raising our hands when we need Your help.

This is the God who rolls sleeves up and gets hands dirty.  Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us (cf. Second Corinthians 5.21).  We confess that only You could have answered this calling.  Still, we stutter when You call us.  We cry, “We are just sheep” when You call us.  Because You know our deepest selves and still, You call us to love, to forgive, to serve, to fellowship and to pray, to keep the conversation going no matter where we find ourselves and no matter the time of day.

And we pray for more time with You, more time to talk this life through and for ears to hear.  Because You do return our calls.

We ask that you call us still.  Call us until Your voice is ringing in our ears.  Call us until we wake up singing Your praises.  Call us until Your name is on the tip of our tongues, ready to dive into the deep that is calling us.

Remove the life jacket and let us sink into Your presence.  More than ankle deep, lead us to the place where the cup overflows, where the sheep are fed from hand to mouth, where there is no distance between Your face and ours.

Remind us that You not only came through a woman but that You will come to women and men today and in the days to come because You are the great Shepherd- King, who tends to our souls, our deepest selves, our most pressing needs.  Amen.