Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

a prayer for holy week

Monday, March 29th, 2010

May we follow

May we follow you O Jesus
with palms in one hand
and bread and wine in the other

May we follow you, O Jesus
with hosanna in our throats
and questions on our minds

May we follow you, O Jesus
trusting your love
even as we hesitate at it’s cost

May we follow you, O Jesus
familiar with the story
frightened by the reality

May we follow you, O Jesus
hearing the sounds of the week
and recognising our own voices

May we follow you, O Jesus
there at the beginning
through to the ending as well

Roddy Hamilton, Abbotsford Chuch, Scotland, 2009

Walking the Labyrinth

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Walking the labyrinth provides an opportunity to be attentive to God’s presence in new and fresh ways.  For many, the labyrinth is a new tool but even for those who have experienced it before, each entry into the labyrinth can be an opportunity to encounter the Divine in a new way. The labyrinth has only one path to the center. There are no dead ends or wrong turns. Everything on the path is a metaphor for life’s journey.

Once a month we are offering a time to walk the labyrinth together in the Denver/Boulder area. A few who went in January share these reflections about their first experience.


AA: At First Glance

At first glace, the labyrinth looked like a regular maze design painted on a concrete floor.  As I entered, however, I realized I was entering an experience that would reach into my very soul.  I took a deep breath and began shuffling slowly through it.  As I walked back and forth; following the path, I contested being distracted by the others who were also in the labyrinth.  It was quiet in the room.  I knew the path I was on would eventually lead me to my destination (the center).  But I kept gazing towards the center, strategizing a faster way to get there.  At the center, I would be able to sit down, reflect and refresh.  But like my life, I had to follow all the turns, walk over all the cracks and stay within the path.  I became cognizant I was not alone in my labyrinth journey.  The others were also following each turn, crack and path; just as I was.  It allowed me to remember that in my life journey, I am also not alone.  I felt a sense of peace with this awareness.  It comforted my spirit.

As I eventually arrived at the center, I felt ready to receive what I was going to take away from my labyrinth experience.  If I had hurried or found a short-cut, I wouldn’t have had the capacity to fully refresh.  Just as deoxygenated blood returns to the lungs to receive fresh oxygen, I was ready to receive.  I did sit down in the center and began to reflect on my life.  I was grateful for each turn and crack because they required me to slow down.  My soul was finally quieted.  I was still.  I was at peace.

As I began to saunter out of the center and work my way back towards the outside of the labyrinth, I was like reoxygenated blood being pumped out of the aorta of the heart to the body.  Ready to give.

MJ: Life’s Labyrinth

Reluctantly, I faced the path in front of me. Resistance flooded every part of me.
So unfamiliar the path. So alone. Grief washed over me, for the loss of all that was familiar. Tears came and went and I realized I could no longer stand on the sidelines of my life. And I stepped into this new labyrinth of my life.

Fear, uncertainty, irritation quickly came over me, at all the loops and turns. Then a nice long stretch brought some comfort to me. “This isn’t so bad”, I realized, about a quarter way thru, “I can do this.” Pausing for reflection, I felt the solidness of my feet on the firm ground. Trust began to flicker and grow stronger- from a source too Real to limit with human words or ideology.

My breathing slowed and a keen awareness of walking gently in my own space enveloped me. And yet I could sense the nearness of others and felt trust for their journey as well. Separate, distinct sojourners, yet so unified in spirit it was palpable. I finally reached the center—a place of rest and reflection. Must I leave? Despite the deep attraction to remain in the labyrinth center, a growing sense of joyful anticipation began to pull me back toward the path to the outer world.

My pace quickens, the longer pathways feel like I’m skating along, carefree and joyful.
Suddenly, the pathways are short with multiple hairpin turns and I must slow down. Wisdom whispers to me “go slowly in this season; see all the sharp curves still ahead for you.” I oblige, knowing the path will again smooth out in the distant future. Patience grows.

With each step back towards the outer labyrinth, the integration of my inner world with my outer world strengthens. Integrity and wholeness grow. Yeah, I made it! Back in the outer world, I rest gratefully in the sun. Peaceful, I felt a renewed confidence that my life’s labyrinth is a good path to be on, one step at a time.

JH: The Cracked Path Continues

In anticipation of a time of serenity I was eager to step on the path and have a little bubble of peace. It seemed like the labyrinth would be a good discipline for me to stay in the present moment, know God’s presence, and experience the metaphor of my journey in a way that brings peace and insight.

As I entered the labyrinth, instead of being able to find a nice meditative pace for walking and breathing, I noticed I was gasping for air and trying to hold back a cough, hoping my bad cold wouldn’t disturb others! I remembered the 3 movements on the labyrinth journey are “release, receive, and return.” I could be mindful of those. Soon I felt lost, unsure of the direction I was going. The labyrinth path winds around and doubles back over and over again. Each turn required courage to keep going. I seemed no closer to the center. It looked like the entire journey would be about releasing and relinquishment. Sadness and fear. The cracks in the cement seemed to speak of imperfection, things gone wrong, yet soon, this actually became a great comfort to me. In spite of the cracks the path was not deterred and continued on its way. I rubbed my foot over each crack as if to say, “The cracks are okay. They won’t prevent me from reaching my destination.” Eventually the assurance came to me, “God, you are with me in the ‘cracks’ as well as the ‘perfect’ parts of the path.” I needed to know that.

When I got to the center I didn’t want to leave, but after a few minutes gathered the courage to start out again. At the points where the path crossed over to the other quadrant of the design it seemed to be especially symbolic of my journey. I knew I needed God’s help and presence to cross over to what is next. When I exited the labyrinth path I was tired, but was enjoying the sense of God’s presence. It had not been the little serenity bubble I expected, but was an amazing time with bits of insight and surprise. There was no outcome to control or predict, so it was as it should be for this visit.

They say the labyrinth is very user friendly. You cannot get lost nor can you fail. You go along at your own pace and listen to the inner voice. After all it’s your metaphor!

2010 refuge prayer

Monday, January 18th, 2010

as we focus on the church calendar together at our saturday evening gatherings and continue to cultivate the spirit and ethos of our life together in community, we will be using this closing prayer together.  we hope the repetition of these words help penetrate our hearts–individually and corporately–and move us toward Jesus and each other.

God,
we cry for mercy, show us your way.
Jesus,
we are here, help us listen and learn.
Holy Spirit,
we are available, give us humble hearts, open minds, willing hands and feet.

we are here to practice and try.
we need you to pierce our pride,
infuse us with courage.

we want to be sober.
we want to love.
we want to live.
we want to be agents of hope and peace.

teach us how to love Jesus, others, ourselves.
teach us how to be loved by Jesus, others, ourselves.

amen.

Nativity Prayer

Monday, December 28th, 2009

As we continue the season of Christmas and move toward Epiphany, meditate on this reminder of the gift of Christ’s incarnation, from St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.

Amen.

thin places: vigilance

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

a video reflection from our 4th week of advent.

JENNY - Thin Places: Silence

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Two gifts were delivered by an angel:

One.

…your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness…

and Two.

…because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth.

The first is a joy-filled answer to the prayers of an old man and woman. The second is a surprise sign that God is at work. It doesn’t seem like a gift—more like a rebuke; but it indeed contains a gift for Zechariah–the gift of silence.

Unable to speak for nine months, the rhythm of his day would likely be punctuated with silent prayer and reflection. When his voice is mysteriously restored he astonishes his relatives and community by using the name that God had selected for his son. (It was expected that the child would be called Zechariah, after his father.) Something must have strengthened him during his time out while waiting for the baby’s arrival. In glad obedience he begins to prophesy and offer a song of praise to God known to Christians down through the ages as the Benedictus.

thin places-refuge advent

Advent - Thin Places

In our 2nd week of Advent we consider how silence and the waiting that goes along with it can be a thin place to encounter God. Silence is a place that is pregnant with pause. It is a place of possibility. As we enter a time of silence and open ourselves to what we haven’t been listening to or noticing, there is a chance that we might experience an acute awareness of God with us in that quiet space.

Are we willing to risk being quiet?
Are we willing to risk a softening of heart?
Are we willing to just be for a moment?
Can silence become a gift to us?

We, like Zechariah, may discover or re-discover a language of prayer in the rhythm of our day. It may remind us along our journey of what Zechariah sang:

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

May you have the courage today to find a quiet moment where you can breathe deeper and receive whatever gift silence brings you.

KATHY - a doubter’s prayer

Monday, September 28th, 2009

as we continue our conversations on faith & doubt, may we stay in, hold on, and remember that

“doubt is not the opposite of faith, but one element of faith” (paul tillich)

God, sometimes i’m not sure

i don’t understand. i can’t understand. i don’t know what i’m supposed to understand.

i am trying to let go. trying to hold on.

learning. growing. stretching. leaving. coming. going.

what do i leave behind?

what do i move toward?

God, grow my faith, whatever that means.

not in man, not in systems, not in what-someone-else-tells-me-i-am-supposed-to-believe

but in you.  the living God.  the one who heals. the one who reveals.  the one who restores.  the one who turns the ways of this world upside down.   the one who calls me to mercy and justice and love.  the one who stirs us to move.

yeah, that’s all i really want.  more of you in me.  more of you in us.

amen.

JENNY - Remind me

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

child whispersI am drawn to the contemplative writers. Contemplatives (since early Christian times) generally are given to periods of deep silent prayer, meditation, and may even live a life devoted to prayer in a monastery or convent. They carve out quiet spaces in order to experience the soul’s union with God. Many contemplatives also seek a balance between work and prayer. I recently set aside a lengthy time from my schedule for finding some balance and restoration for the health of my body, mind, and spirit. I was carving out my own quiet space. I thought of it as my “soul sabbatical.” I couldn’t wait for this time of meaningful solitude.

The first 2 weeks away (in GA) would be for helping my mom. The first week my husband would be there, too. After that I would stay at the lake house 45 minutes from her home and be available if she should need me. This was a time to assess her long term needs in a more realistic way than I could from my home in CO. Meanwhile, I could have a time of solitude and reflection and enter into the process of actively listening to the Holy Spirit.

I sort of divided my day into blocks for reading, praying, working (cleaning, gardening, etc.), creative expression and relaxing I took along a small library of books for my reading times. I got a new camera to give serious attention to re-developing my long-time love of photography. I packed my sun hat, sun shirt and sunblock for working outdoors. I took my ipod and speakers, my journals and pastels. I planned for everything I might need, including my favorite spices to cook with.

There were some specific requests I had for my time alone with God. There are some things I have considered irreconcilable, and I wanted to understand how to live my life with what can be reconciled and to recognize what can’t. Ultimately I wanted to remember who I am, so I asked God, “Remind me who I am.”

In all my planning I didn’t count on the series of mishaps, severe weather, and unexpected battles with creepy creatures that happened. But most of all I didn’t plan on people. I felt the silence and trickery of God (and I say this in the most loving way!) Except for a few small sightings, I didn’t think God was speaking. I didn’t have much chance to hear him because people kept showing up to interrupt my solitude.

People from my past came out of the woodwork. We spent time together and reconnected. They told me stories I had forgotten. There were God stories and funny stories of crazy stuff we did. One by one they described my impact on their life. And it was…gulp…positive! They updated me on people we both knew that I haven’t seen in 35 years! They shared their own stories with me and listened to mine. There is no way I could have orchestrated getting in contact with two of the people that God brought around. That’s right, I said, “God brought around”, because that’s how I see it now.

In my desire to reconnect with God and myself, I had no desire to connect with people. I did want to hear the Holy Spirit, but was surprised that he chose to use people to speak to me. People I knew, who knew me–not just writers whose profound words I could reflect upon. I am a big proponent of community, but ironically, I didn’t expect community to be a way God would answer my prayer.

I got very little time alone or time to rest on my “soul sabbatical.” I did get to see the entire spring season in GA with all of its glorious beauty which helped to restore my soul. And I was reminded of who I am, in a most unlikely way. I’ve found that it’s hard to really know who I am outside of the context of community and relationships–who I am with people. I believe we are put here to remind each other of who we really are. That began to happen for me on my trip.

Has it happened for you?
Have you reminded anyone else lately?

Breath of God

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

The following is a prayer Christine Sine recently posted at her blog, Godspace.  As we continue to focus on prayer as a community, may we feel the breath of God in wild and beautiful ways.  Enjoy.

O Breath of God,

You moved on the face of the waters and created order out of chaos…
Calm our hearts that we may hear you!

You who spoke light into darkness and pushed the shadows aside…
Drive out our fears and make your face shine upon us!

You who wrestled with Jacob and marked him as you Israel…
Dance with us in our clumsiness and teach us your ways!

We are what you make of us
So we give ourselves to you.

We have only what you have given us
So we give it all back to you.

We become only what you dream for us

As we learn…

over

and over again,

to say “Yes!”
to you…the One
who wrestles and dances
and creates and comforts
and dreams with us
with this world
with all that ever has been and ever will be,
Amen

a prayer for lent

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

the lenten season started last week with ash wednesday. the beginning of lent marks the start of a journey toward Christ’s resurrection, and it starts with a radical awareness of our brokenness, our need for God. if you are interested in some great reflections to consider this lenten season, check out christine sine’s lenten guide here: http://godspace.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/lenten-guide-2009-is-here/. the following prayer is from this material. reflect on it. let the words sink in. let God speak to the deep places of our parched hearts. let Him sweep out what needs sweeping.

God, all-loving and all-caring,
We come before you with hesitant steps and uncertain motives
Our hearts are parched from wandering in a desert of sin.

We want to sweep out the corners where sin has accumulated
And uncover the places where we have strayed from your truth
Our hearts are parched from wandering in a desert of sin.

We ask for courage to open our eyes and unstop our ears
That we may be aware of all that distracts us from a whole-hearted commitment to Christ
Our hearts are parched from wandering in a desert of sin.

We want to see ourselves as you do and live our lives as you intended
Expose in us the empty and barren places where we have not allowed you to enter
Our hearts are parched from wandering in a desert of sin.

Reveal to us our half-hearted struggles,
Where we have been indifferent to the pain and suffering of others
Our hearts are parched from wandering in a desert of sin.

Create in us a clean heart, O God, and put a right Spirit within us
Nurture the faint stirrings of new life where your spirit has taken root and begun to grow
Our hearts are parched from wandering in a desert of sin.

We long for your healing light to transform us into the image of your Son,
For you alone can bring new life and make us whole
In your mercy, shine upon us, O God, and make our path clear before us.

Pause to remind yourself of your own brokenness and need for repentance.

God of mercy, come
Into the hidden places of our hearts.
Christ of compassion, come
Into the broken places of our world.

Spirit of life, come
Into the polluted places of our lives.
Forgive us, heal us, redeem us,
Lead us from death to eternal life.