Would we open the doors?

Dear God,

I ask myself,

Would we open the doors
On a Friday night
And shelter protestors?

Or would we stop short,
Worried about the police,
Or angry neighbors?

Would we turn off the lights,
Draw the blinds,
Hide in the office?

Or would we be ready
With water and cookies,
And first aid kits?

Would we welcome strangers,
For Your sake,
And keep them safe?

O God,
who opens doors,
I hope so.


(Offered with thanksgiving for Central Reform Congregation and University United Methodist Church in St. Louis and their hospitality to protestors this weekend.)

Advertisements

No Grocery Store Bread (a prayer for pastors)

A jug of bleach
A bottle of water
A loaf of bread

We start a list of things needed
when a storm is on the horizon.

Everyone grabs loaves of bread
a guarantee against short-term hunger.

Bleach is to disinfect drinking water
in case you don’t have power to boil it.

My friend bakes a cake,
to pass the time waiting
for the storm to hit
and humor the household.

We know how to prepare for a storm.

Meanwhile the news points elsewhere:
to resignations and pardons,
to discrimination and deportation.

What jug, what bottle, what loaf
can bolster us for the struggle
against the wrong people do?

No grocery store bread can do it.

We know what you did, Lord Jesus.

You put your own body on the line
for goodness, for mercy, for justice.

You are the bread we need,
the bread that will sustain us.

Give us life
and strength to live it
on the line for You.

In that moment (a prayer for pastors)

Dear Holy

in that moment
when we rise
to speak

(words they may not want to hear)

in that moment
when we pause
to look

(and see faces we cannot read)

in that moment
when we feel
the mood

(and whether it agrees with ours)

in that moment
when we know
we can’t

(do it the way we have always done it before)

move us past
the way we do things
in all the other moments

to the words
of Your Mouth
and the meditations
of Your Heart

Amen

After a Sunday off (a prayer for pastors)

Dear Holy,

After a Sunday off,
I find it hard to come back.
I am grateful for the rest,
but still managing re-entry.

It’s probably true that
I haven’t forgotten how
to write a sermon, to craft
a prayer, to offer a blessing,

after a Sunday offbut somewhere in the middle
between“I got this!”
and “what was I thinking?”
is the post-vacation muddle,

not so much “not ready”
as “not fully present”
not so much “unwilling”
as “not sure I’m able.”

Ground me, dear Holy,
in this time and space,
with the people I serve,
and a true word from You.

Amen.

You changed our lives (a prayer for pastors)

When You called us into ministry,
You changed our lives.

Service became discipleship –
an awareness that any good we do
is from You and for You.

Caring became vocation –
a commitment to love others
on Your behalf.

Prayer became preparation –
a discipline not just for self-improvement
but for Your people.

Contemplation became profession –
an arrangement of divergent strands
for Your glory.

Worship became work –
a commitment of all our gifts,
given for You.

Help us to equip all people
for Your worship, for Your work
in the world.

When You called us into baptism,
You changed our lives.


Subscribe to my monthly e-letter here. 

a God-shaped mystery (a Trinity Sunday prayer for pastors)

I fear I do not explain You well.

I get the pronouns wrong
when I speak of You;
somehow an “all” creeps in,
suggesting three separate
entities, functions, realities.

The intellectual approach –
(explanations of doctrine,
refutations of heresies,
the specialties of some Internet guy)
feels flat to me:
a demand that truth be granted
and no questions be asked
does not turn a hard concept
into metaphysics, much less poetry.

It seems like a God-shaped mystery
should be felt, not reasoned:
a heavenly triad in three voices;
a sumptuous braid of silk ropes;
a fidget spinner blurred to a circle.

Yet all my analogies fail the test.

Perhaps I am an inevitable heretic,
trying too hard to get it right.

Is it enough to feel awed
by how You loved us into being,
and how You became one of us,
and how You are always on the move?

I hope so.

Amen.

Push Us Out (a Pentecost prayer for pastors)

Pastors and preachers, this is my prayer for you.

O, Holy Spirit,

Help us to interpret you.

Give us speech that tells your truth by transcending barriers, trustworthy and true, convincing and convicting.

Help us to understand each other.

Give us words that mean something to those who listen, bringing the aggressive blur of violence, hate, and fear into focus on your peace, love, and mercy.

Help us to stand in your truth.

Give us a key to read the signs in the dreams and visions you send us, to make your will so plain that all people can comprehend it.

Help us past what feels safe.

Come into the places we meet and push us out into the world with Holy Wind and Fire.

May we speak your words with courage, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.