Bless You

All I am saying is that anyone can do this. Anyone can ask and anyone can bless, whether anyone has authorized you to do it or not. All I am saying is that the world needs you to do this, because there is a real shortage of people willing to kneel wherever they are and recognize the holiness holding its sometimes bony, often tender, always life-giving hand above their heads. That we are able to bless one another at all is evidence that we have been blessed, whether we can remember when or not. That we are willing to bless one another is miracle enough to stagger the very stars.”  Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

An Intercessory Prayer

From churchofengland.org

Let us pray to the Lord,

who is our refuge and stronghold.

For the health and well-being of our nation,

that all who are fearful and anxious

may be at peace and free from worry:

Lord, hear us,

Lord, graciously hear us.

For the isolated and housebound,

that we may be alert to their needs,

and care for them in their vulnerability:

Lord, hear us,

Lord, graciously hear us.

For our homes and families,

our schools and young people,

and all in any kind of need or distress:

Lord, hear us,

Lord, graciously hear us.

For a blessing on our local community,

that our neighbourhoods may be places

of trust and friendship,

where all are known and cared for:

Lord, hear us,

Lord, graciously hear us.

We commend ourselves,

and all for whom we pray,

to the mercy and protection of God.

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Check it Out

Every Thursday, I post a short book recommendation related to our study on prayer. I have copies of the books I post about, so let me know if you’d like to borrow one before buying.

poets prayToday’s read is When Poets Pray by Marilyn McEntyre.

From Amazon: Poetry and prayer are closely related. We often look to poets to give language to our deepest hopes, fears, losses—and prayers. Poets slow us down. They teach us to stop and go in before we go on. They play at the edges of mystery, holding a tension between line and sentence, between sense and reason, between the transcendent and the deeply, comfortingly familiar. When Poets Pray contains thoughtful meditations by Marilyn McEntyre on choice poems/prayers and poems about prayer. Her beautifully written reflections are contemplative exercises, not scholarly analyses, meant more as invitation than instruction. Here McEntyre shares gifts that she herself has received from poets who pray, or who reflect on prayer, believing that they have other gifts to offer readers seeking spiritual companionship along our pilgrim way.  Poets include: Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver, and the psalmists.

From the book…

“A Prayer in Spring” by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Morning Prayer

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Psalm 51

Open my lips, O Lord,
    and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence
    and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again
    and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

A Reading

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

The Collect

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holy Exuberance!

From Chapter 6 of Longing to Pray:

Israel built into its calendar occasions for exuberance. There were not only the annual feast days — all but one of which were celebratory — but every week there was the Sabbath. And the Sabbath was something to be celebrated…. Exuberance can’t be programmed or scheduled, but a schedule can provide a setting in which exuberance is more easily born or nurtured…. And it is the very essence of religious ritual. We easily decry “empty ritual”; the Old Testament prophets did so with vigor. But if the ritual is empty, that’s our fault. Rituals provide the magnificent setting in which the jewel of holy exuberance can shine. (Kalas 54-55, emphasis added)

Psalm 98, from The Message – An example of “holy exuberance” if there ever was one!

Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!

He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.

God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.

He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.

The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God’s work of salvation!

Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add on a hundred-voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones,
Fill the air with praises to King God.

Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
With everything living on earth joining in.

Let ocean breakers call out, “Encore!”
And mountains harmonize the finale—

A tribute to God when he comes,
When he comes to set the earth right.

He’ll straighten out the whole world,
He’ll put the world right, and everyone in it.

 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)

Odds & Ends

LOCAL REMINDERS:

  • This week, I’ll be writing about Chapter 6 of Longing to Pray. We’re at the halfway point of our book study. Looks like it is currently available on Kindle for $12.99 if you’re interested in following along with us. Comments are open on every post.
  • Check the New Castle UMC website for sermons and audio devotions, as we continue social distancing. We are so blessed to have this tech connection to our local church! Thanks very much, Cory!
  • Speaking of online church, Christianity Today compiled a few bloopers from Facebook live services. Cory, you’re doing great!!
  • Last but not least… missions, outreach, and everyday expenses don’t stop for COVID-19. Donations to NCUMC may be mailed to P.O. Box 194, New Castle KY 40050.

 

LINKS

First, a couple of sites focused on practical things:

  • Get up-to-date, accurate information on COVID-19 (including when to seek medical care and where) at kycovid19.ky.gov.  If you’re not already watching the Governor every day at 5:00, I highly recommend you start. (KET shows the entire broadcast without interruption.) Excellent information. Calming 60 minutes. It’s a win-win.
  • All this hand washing and disinfecting made me think about my cellphone and all the places it “lands” every day.  Click HERE for instructions from Apple Support on the best way to clean your iphone (information is organized by type of iphone you have). Got an android phone? Click HERE.

And a few other links I found interesting, and thought you might too:

  • Pope Francis delivered the Urbi et Orbi (To the City and to the World) blessing on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Last June, Greg and I stood on those same steps, along with thousands of people. It was sobering and surreal to see the Basilica empty as Italy battles the coronavirus, but I found the Pope’s words comforting. The link provides the text of his sermon, as well as a video of the entire service (about one hour) that ends with Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • The Bible Project has released a new video on Sabbath observance. The authors explore the significance of the number “7” in ancient times, the theme of seventh day rest, and the biblical concept of Sabbath. They also look at why Jesus adopted this idea as a major part of his own mission to bring God’s Kingdom to earth.
  • A new podcast has been launched by Christianity Today:  Prayer Amid Pandemic. Twice a week, they will provide stories of Christian individuals and communities whose lives and faith were shaped by sickness. They will also provide updates on the latest coronavirus headlines and then pray together, led by Christians around the world.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)