Praying for Summer

Praise you God, because from you all blessings flow

And some kind of summer beckons.

Different from the endless summer of last year, where we were all so lonely we could spit.

Different from the fall where promises of vaccines were hazy and masks were packed into book bags with lunches

and we held our breath.

Now after giving up all of my free time to digitally school my eldest, and truck my other two back and forth to school.

Now after a year of basically nothing but school (and thank God eventually church), no clubs, no friends, no activities.

After a winter of depression

And a spring of exhaustion

And a Post-Pandemic, which, maybe, sort a, might be starting,

but sure as anything hasn’t really become a reality yet….

–For India and Brazil, Lord hear our prayers–

A year of mostly rewardless schooling has ended, and we are finally able to send our students and teachers back with our thanks.

And Now…

Summer beckons, and God I hope you guide us through.

I hope you help us to wind our way through this time of huge transition

Because we have not yet begun to feel the aftershocks of all that is different in our lives.

And I keep hearing hints

Of mourning those we have lost and adjusting to what life is now

Of mass retirements, and considered quittings,

Of reprioritizations and reorganization.

And so, I’m praying that I can string together some pieces of summer

with ice cream

and sunshine

and water fights.

Just enough pieces of summer, to feed my soul.

Until I figure how the hell we are going to do the next good thing.

Give us summer we pray.

Amen.

Please feel free to adapt/share/use with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Writing God on Our Hearts

God, 


Today we got to talk about how 

We write God’s on our hearts

with the liturgy of the prayers we read

Mumuring, muttering, mumbling

Practicing, practicing, practicing

Faith….

Turning the story over and over in our brains

until it is written on our hearts.

We talked about the mystical change, 

the one that takes place when we start off 

talking about who we are

and how we are

angry

and sad

and joyful

and lamentful

and despondent

and we practice

our identity 

and our identity with one another

and our identity in you.

God, I’m practicing, 

With angsty prayers, and half finished stories, 

and moments of belatedness

Help me practice

so that I, too, my move towards you,

As you write your love upon my heart. 

Practice with me? Amen

Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Being Human

An experiment in poetry

Thanks to my Doctorate in Ministry in Creative Writing at Pittsburgh Seminary

By Katy Stenta 

The story gets more fantastic

The more we tell it

It gets bigger

Even when we make it more concise

The better adjective, the simple adverb

The timing

All of which can be 

drilled down

to this thing called perfect


But the human being

Exists outside of perfection

There is no perfect time to be human

There is no perfect relationship 

No perfect creation

made by human hands

Humankind works so hard to tell its story

Because maybe if we describe our faith

more perfectly, more people will follow it

Why do we chase perfection? 

Why do we want the feeling of 

having the exact words

to shape how our experiences exist—

Do we not then pretend that our experiences are 

unembodied? 

Do we not want to be lost in a fantastic story

precisely because we have struggled too?

Do we not experience our lives as Science Fiction?

Too technical to explain, too human to let go 

of our essence.

I think I prefer Science Fiction to Perfection. 

Neverending

God, this is the week that never ends, in the year that never ends.

Always, towards the end of the school year there is an impossible week.

Where spring and summer activities collide in their not quite done, and just getting started-ness.

Always there is a week where the schedule doesn’t work, every day has triple obligations, and on top of that everyone is cranky.

And then, someone doesn’t sleep, and someone else doesn’t feel well or the car has trouble or the pet has to go to the vet or the computer quits working or a something else impossible happens.

God, timing is everything.

And this year, when I have spent more time with parts of my family than ever, and seen other parts and my friends almost not all…

This year when vacations and retreats are just gasps of breath in the midst of survival mode…

This year when all the “fun things” I thought I was doing to have fun turned out to be coping mechanisms essential to surviving, as they have fallen by the wayside and the to do list somehow continues while these other things don’t..

God Almighty, You know, how this year has been never-ending.

Like a song that is stuck in your head, nagging at you day in and day out, that’s how the pandemic works–always in the background, giving your headaches and heartaches. Always on the calendar as you figure out what to do and how to do it.

The stress presses down, on my head, on my heart, on my soul.

God, I have been praying without ceasing this year. I have cried and sighed and laughed and zoomed and emailed and turned on cameras and turned off camera, have put on masks and then then washed the masks, every single day of this never ending year.

I have examined every ache and sniffed and listened to every lonely heartache of my friends and family…..and taken-just-a-moment-to-center-myself all in prayer.

I am living into the rhythm of prayer Lord–one that is both structured and spontaneous, one that has been out loud and quiet, one where I’ve known exactly what to say and one where I’ve murmured nonsense to the Holy Spirit.

It’s the longest week, in the longest year I’ve ever lived.

So I will continue to pray, and live.

Thank God you are eternal, thank God that prayers do not cease, and are picked up by friends and families and churches and strangers when mine falter.

Thank God you are the song that never ends God.

Amen.

Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

The Neverending Story, a Piece of Philosophy | by Alonso Monroy Conesa |  Medium

Pandemic Resurrection

God. I’m doing the work of resurrection.

The stress has shifted from how do I mark time and God do I miss people to

I’m back at the races of triple scheduling and childcare & transportation needs exploding.

Is this what resurrection feels like?

Everything is returning back to normal; everything except for my priorities.

Everything is being re-examined, and I feel the ridiculousity of life as articles try to grab onto relationship evaluations with pallid and downright stupid questions.

It’s not about reciprocity or weight gain or worrying about having the right friendships and family.

It’s about who I missed, and what people can manage and how to be a better friend or family member.

What was it like for you Jesus when you came back. Did you need time to readjust?

Did you sit in the garden for a few minutes pulling weeds…

Thinking about what had radically changed in you life within the parameters of “getting back to normal.”

Is this why you waited to greet the women? Did you have to wait till your tongue could unstick from the roof of your mouth to speak.

Did you feel as socially awkward, unused to interaction and uncertain how to start, did you feel it as sharply as we do?

Were you far more burnt out out than you realized?

God as I sit in the abandoned Lord & Taylor

where in March 2020 my friends and I sat far apart in the lot trying to hear each other’ words, desperate to see other people—

as I sit here now

Now waiting…

waiting for my son’s vaccination, I know, I really know that this is actually what resurrection looks like.

Strange

And repurposed

And transformed into something you never imagined

And I know resurrection is worth it

Build us into the resurrection I pray.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

More Pandemic Resources here

Week 4 Psalm 23

The Message Psalm 23

Laughing Bird (Australian) Psalm 23 

The Lord is my Grandma

Call to Worship:

God is Good

All the Time

All the Time

God is Good

Let us praise, our God

Let us praise our God who is always Good.

Prayer of Confession: God, I know sometimes that goodness and mercy are chasing me because I’m distracted, or too hurried. I know too that it is hard to feel goodness and mercy when I am overwhelmed or in survival mode. Help me. Help me to see and understanding and feel the goodness and mercy that are already in my life. Teach me ways to cultivate these: with rest, nourishment and a practice of living out of abundance instead of scarcity. Teach me to be a Psalm 23 sheep I pray. (Silent Confession) Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: God loves you, you are forgiven. Let us tell one another this truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

1st Scripture Reading  Isaiah 40:9b-11

2nd Scripture Reading                                    Psalm 23:6

Prayer of Dedication: Thank you for chasing me God. As I go into the world, remind me to stop for a couple of minutes, so that I can feel your goodness and mercy wash over me. Remind me I pray. Amen.

Hymns: Amazing Grace, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, Jesus Loves Me, If I but Trust in God to Guide Thee, Lord of Our Growing Years, Here I am Lord, God of the Sparrow, As a Deer Longs for the Stream, My Soul in Silence Waits for God, Any Psalm 23, Morning has Broken, Breathe on Me Breath of God

Psalm 23 Series

Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Psalm 23 Week 3

Posted on by katyandtheword

The Message Psalm 23

Laughing Bird (Australian) Psalm 23 

The Lord is my Grandma

Call to Worship:

God you are an abundant

You set your feast before us, full of grace and mercy

You show my enemies even, what it is like to live in the bounty of God

Come Let us bless God’s Holy Name

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that sometimes we hoard your blessings. We think there is not enough, and yet you feed us in the presence of our enemies. Giving an unspoken invitation to join us. Remind us that if there is enough for them, there is surely enough for us and encourage us to be as abundant in grace and goods, as generous in our invitations and meals, as loving in our relationships as you are. It is a tall order, which is why you offer us nourishment along the way. Nourish us to do all of these things we pray. (Silent Confession) Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: God will always have the light on for us, and welcomes us back with open arms whenever we need forgiveness and nourishment. Let us share the good news with one anther: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

1st Scripture Reading  Isaiah 40:18-20, 25-26

2nd Scripture Reading                                    Psalm 23:5

Prayer of Dedication: God, you have provided the feast, nourishing our very souls. Our cup overfloweth, let us share that grace with others as we go, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hymns: Here I am Lord, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Precious Lord Take My Hand, There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Love Divine All Love Excelling

Psalm 23 Series

Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Psalm 23 Week 2 Psalm 23:4

The Message Psalm 23

Laughing Bird (Australian) Psalm 23 

The Lord is my Grandma

Call to Worship (Isaiah 40)

Have you not known, Have you not heard?

God is with us

When we need comfort, God will comfort us

Come, let us abide with God.

Prayer of Confession: (unison) God I confess, I am scared. Especially when evil surrounds me, even though I know your rod and staff are supporting me, I am afraid. I do not know whether to speak up or stay quiet in the midst of evil. I am uncertain at times if I should be standing firm or running away. And sometimes I find death to be very scary. Support me as I wrestle with these very real fears, I pray your Holy Shepherding Name. (Silent Confession) Amen

Assurance of Pardon: Hear the good news, God’s love is from everlasting to everlasting, ever available to support us even when our steps falter. Let us proclaim the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

1st Scripture Reading  Isaiah 40:1-2, 21-24

2nd Scripture Reading                                     Psalm 23:4

Prayer of Dedication: God help me to remember that you walk with us in the shadow of the valley of death, for you have been there before and know what it entails. When I am afraid, remind me that you do not fear evil. Help us to be brave and comforted as we walk in the world today and everyday, we pray. Amen.

Hymns: It is Well with My Soul, Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley, O Love How Deep How Broad How High, What Wondrous Love Is This, I love the Lord Who Heard My Cry

Psalm 23 Series

Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Psalm 23 – The Lord is my Grandma

Grandma, great and mighty God…                                                                                    

you take care of me and everything I need.

You make me rest in the cool, green grass                                                                          

because grass is good for my eyes, and good for my soul.

You take me where the water is still and quiet,                                                      

where the waters soak up the chaos of the streams of life.

You bring me back to life, filling in the gaps and chips and fissures of from life.                                                                                                      

You lead me in ways that are right so that I will be a credit to you.

Even though crevasses and ravines want to claim me,                                                               

I am not afraid because I am not alone.                                                                                               

Grandma, you are with me. Your crook guides and re-directs me.                                                         

Your walking stick, which aids and supports me, gives me comfort.

Grandma, you always cook for me.                                                                                        Y

you set a fine table no matter who is there—                                                                       

even if people who don’t like me—or whom I don’t like–come over.  

Grandma, you value me and praise me.                                                                                   

You cover me with so much love that it pours everywhere,                                                        

splashing on everyone there and even back onto you.

You hold my life like it’s precious.                                                                                      

You hold my life like it’s good.                                                                                                               

You hold my life like it’s beautiful.

Because you treasure my life, I will treasure my life too.                                                              

I will live every day as a blessed day spent at your house.                                     

Living forever in your house—and eating at your table–is heaven for me.

Thank you for being my great, and good, grandma.

Feel free to use/share with credit to Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl (pronounced Gaatle)