Prayers for Pastors, Transfiguration

Transfiguration (a prayer for pastors)

St. Pete Beach Sunset
St. Pete Beach Sunset

I’ll admit it, Holy One.

I struggle with this story.
I struggle with it,
and what it means.
I definitely struggle with
how to preach it,
year in, year out.
I grapple with the idea
not of what light once was
but of what we have made it,
not a gift from you to help us see,
or a means of sorting out order from chaos,
but as a badge of superiority,
an ID of supremacy.
It’s more than a metaphor now;
we have given it literal power.
A brown man with his brown friends
climbed a mountain,
saw historic figures
and recognized them,
suddenly looked brighter,
with clothes whiter than bleach
could make them,
and I could argue for
a spotlight effect
or something,
but in truth,
we’ve made the narrative
of light v. darkness
so sick,
it’s hard to do.
Yet it seems to be true
that your light
wherever it shines
puts things in focus
makes us able to see
better, even clearly,
for the first time
what matters.
In this season
of argument and fear,
help us to see
better, even clearly,
what matters now
(what always matters):
safety from violence
enough to eat
clean water
for all children
for all people
wherever they live.
Prayers for Pastors

Dog-lover, Knitter, Baseball Fan (a Trinity Sunday prayer for pastors)

One of these things is not the other, but all are one.
One of these things is not the other, but all are one.

Dear God,
Dear Jesus,
Dear Holy Spirit –

I have a sense of You:
One and Three,
but sometimes more Two,
or None-of-the-Above.

How to explain it?

I use a construction
invented by others:

Creator
Redeemer
Sustainer

I hope it suffices.

I seek time to wonder,
to ponder,
but my own roles
complicate things.

Wife
Mother
Pastor

Writer
Friend
Dreamer

Dog-lover
Knitter
Baseball Fan

Each has its modes,
its complications,
its subordinate clauses.

Dear God,
Dear Jesus,
Dear Holy Spirit –

You are

Creator
Parent
Maker
Originator
Generator
Designer

Redeemer
Savior
Shepherd
Lamb
Teacher
Friend

Sustainer
Wind
Fire
Inspirer
Instigator
Provocateur

Dear God,
Dear Jesus,
Dear Holy Spirit –

Help me say things
that communicate You,
all Three, yet One. Amen.

Prayers for Pastors

Like a boss (a prayer for pastors)

Weekly, dear God,
I think about how to sing you into being.
I flip through books and
also memory
considering broad themes –
Love! Peace! Discipleship! –
or familiar phrases –
“God in three persons”
“Joyful, joyful, we adore thee”
“Immortal, invisible” –
or timeless images –
Mother. Father. Shepherd.

I think about how to sing you into being,
in the body of the faithful,
and the minds of the questioning,
and the voices of the no-place-else-to-go-today,
using the best of what’s available to me.

I want the words to mean something,
and I drift to the familiar,
for the sake of the singing,
and the untrained among the singers,
and for me it works beautifully,
most of the time.

Yet there are phrases,
and images,
and broad themes unexpressed
by classical chords
and texts of another time.

Last night I watched a pitcher
whose mood and work
can be best described as
“like a boss.”

And I wonder, if we sang about
our gratitude as if you were
our hero,
in our modern parlance,
how it might sound.

(No using words like parlance.)

Would we go out
with shouts of joy?
Praise God in the sanctuary?
Ascribe to the Lord?

No.

We need a hero, Lord,
and you save us,
need to hear things over and over,
and you keep teaching us,
can’t get our heads in the game,
yet you keep chucking the ball
right over the plate.
Like a boss, O God.
Like a boss.

****

Partially inspired by Music Sunday, and partially by the following filthy pitch.

 

 

Prayers for Pastors

Hard truths (a prayer for pastors)

Lord, O Lord,

Every Sunday somewhere,
hard truths need speaking.

Every day, some places.

And we don’t want to speak them
because we don’t want to know them.
We are afraid they will change us,
make us see instead of turn away,
make us hear instead of letting
our earbuds filter the truth.

But you have called us,
ordained or not,
all people of faith,
to proclaim You,
and like the prophets
we are learning that while
You are love,
You are grace,
You are mercy,
You are not safety
from the world’s judgment,
the rancor of enemies,
the disapproval of friends,
the rejection of family,
or the anger of church folk.

Caravaggio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Caravaggio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Help us to tell the truth about You,
and never to sugarcoat it.

We ask in the name of the One
who gave himself up
to arrest,
to trial,
to death.

Amen.

Prayers for Pastors

In Search Of (a prayer for pastors)

Lord,

The other day we seized
Three hours, almost four,
And drove out of town
Down curving roads
And over hills
In search of barns
That might contain

Wouldn't that be pretty?
Wouldn’t that be pretty?

An elusive ladder
For use as a holder
Of Christmas lights
And eventually stockings
(I saw it on Pinterest)
But instead we found
A shoulder bag made of
Recycled truck tires,
Sufficient to hold
File folders and a hymnal,
A bit of a goose chase,
But it was so good,
A preacher’s half-Sabbath.

For the rest of the week
Was also good, but long,
With bumps in the road
And unexpected traffic
And surprising signs
Along the way pointing
To your presence.

You were there
In the stories told
Over lunch at church
At hospital bedsides
Or mid-night waiting rooms,
In the struggle to compose
Prayers and sermons
Worthy of the moment
Acknowledging reality
Yet offering hope,
In the brave testimony
Of the soon-to-be bereaved
And the often disappointed
Who nevertheless follow you.

Bless the words
We write and speak
Of Kings and Goats
Of calls to serve
Of prophecies unwelcome
And thanks for all the ways
You appear in the rooms
And along the roads
Of our lives,
Sitting across the room,
Visible around the bend,
Odd monarch,
Old friend:

All places contain you.
We pray “Be with us”
And you are.
We thank you for that. Amen.

Prayer

Trinity Sunday Prayer

Great Three-in-One,

We bring our prayers to You remembering how small our problems may be in the scheme of things but hoping you will hear how large they are in our hearts.

We pray:

  • For the people we love who are suffering
  • For the heroes who press for change in institutions that exclude
  • For the strangers rebuilding lives after disaster
  • For a world torn by conflict, where attacks happen for no reason and terrible reasons
  • For a deeper understanding of You
  • For the strength to love and act on that love
  • For the energy to be faithful in a time when religion can seem quaint
  • For the determination to be Your people when the label “Christian” doesn’t always sound like who we are and what we believe about You

Dear One-in-Three,

Sometimes we know you best in the wonders of what You have created. Sometimes we know You best in the assurance of your forgiveness. Sometimes we know You best in the whispers inspiring and provoking us to deeper understanding.

We pray:

  • To serve with the gifts You have given us
  • To love with the kind of love You show us
  • To forgive with generous hearts as You have forgiven us
  • To grow in faith, remembering that there is always a next stage to reach

We thank You for all the ways You make Yourself manifest among us:

  • In the beauty of this spring morning
  • In Your comfort when darkness covers us
  • In the life of Jesus, who taught us to pray saying:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

A-Croc-Alypse Now, Apocalyptics, Prayer

Prayers for the A-Croc-Alypse

See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. (Malachi 4:1-2a, NRSV)

Okay, God. 

Let's talk.

I've been avoiding some things, sticking to careful mentions of the names of people I love, or people I worry about or find challenging, but not so many of the latter these days, for fear of the rabbit hole I might find myself down if I mention the truly challenging.

Even if they are the people who need you most.

But I've been avoiding telling you that people who are mean tire me out and make me wonder what the world is coming to, and even though in happier personal times I have assured others that on the whole people have always worried that the world they love is coming to an end, soon, I am the one carrying that feeling right now.

I'm trying to bring you prayers more articulate than "Help!"

But I hate to be one of the people praying "How long, O Lord? How long?"

I hate it.

I want to be one of the people praying, "Thank you."

Right now there are certainly things to thank you for, and I've tried to focus on them, I really have. You know that.

And even though Malachi speaks of a bad end for the arrogant and the evildoers, my prayer is not that vengeful. I really would like it to turn out well for all concerned.

But I also need to say "No, thank you," to some of the events of my life.

I hope you can understand, and can hear my "No, thank you," in the spirit in which I offer it.

(I hope you can accept a moment of silence here as part of our conversation.)

Okay.

Meanwhile, today I want to thank you for people who keep reaching out to me, ever-so-kindly, and especially for L, who sent me this card, designed by a special person in her life, as a gesture of encouragement that I received thankfully. 

Leah's card "

"The power to lift up is stronger than all that holds us down." I believe that is your power. I'm depending on it. There's no dancing bird in this drawing, but I feel connected to that little turtle, somehow.

And I don't know if this counts as revering, but thanks for listening.

Songbird