You are not Alone: A Prayer

God, as a I sit in the weak winter sun of upstate New York, breathing in the stillness of my house on an (extremely) rare day where everyone else is out. It’s comforting.

Yet, in the solitude, I know that what has kept me going all of this time is the deep knowledge that you are not alone.

As my tiny church struggles with a smattering of people, some older and some with young children: to stay connected, we tell each other with cards and phone calls and zooms and socially distant visits: you are not alone.

When I walk with my eldest and he worries if he ever gets to see his friends again, I echo he promise you are not alone.

As I read stories about baby animals and bunnies who want to run away from their mothers, I hear the subtext of the story: You are not alone.

As people supported black lives matter marches, and black individuals and as February brings knowledge of what has been done and what has been undone, and as people of color look for opportunities for a vaccine–I try to sound out the call, you are not alone.

And as institutions struggle: great nonprofits, huge church governmental structures, civic infrastructure and the congress itself–I struggle too to remember, you are not alone.

And when Southern states get caught in vortexes and power outages, when great wrongs are done to profit at the expense of the poor: then mutual aide, food banks and phone banks, tweets and emails and other communications all reach out to tell those who are suffering: you are not alone.

God, I am grateful that in the midst of a half a million deaths, that we do not mourn alone. I am grateful that when fascism and bigotry rears its nasty head, we are able to take one another’s hand and tell each and every dreamer, immigrant, person without home, black and brown person, LGBTQUIA individuals, those who live with disabilities and more–that every time we help one another, we are proclaiming the truth. You are not alone.

God is with us, and if God is for us, who can be against us. And God coaxes us, with this truth, to live out the gospel as it should be: one where no one is alone.

Let us continue to preach the good news. And maybe, when its a hard day you can whisper it in my ear God, or put it on a billboard, or reflect it in my friend’s eyes so that I remember that the good news is mine too, and we are not alone.

Make your presence known to us we pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

May be a cartoon of text that says ''m too tired to do anything except fall straight into bed i had a bad day dinos $ comics and tell me about it i'm here as long as you need'

500,000 people: Ashes

God, we are walking into the dusty path of Lent we realize that we are entering into a world of the missing.

The parents, the children, the aunts and uncles, the neighbors and friends and mentors.

God we have lost 500,000 people.

We have lost them. They slipped through our fingers of selfishness and greed and individualism.

We have lost them, like coins scattered upon the ground, they slipped through our finger–a treasure sunk into the ocean, never to be recovered.

We left our fellow sheep upon the rocks, and didn’t protect each other from the lions and the snakes.

We have forgotten that we are herd animals.

God, we no longer just taste ashes on our tongue. We are consuming them daily–in the news of black and brown people’s continued suffering under racist structures, in the habitual “forgetting” of people with disabilities and their extra isolation and danger in this time of contagion, in the news day after day after day of new infections and new deaths, in the cry of an entire state left in the cold for profit.

God I am afraid I am getting used to the taste of ashes.

I’m becoming bitter like Mara, convinced that normal wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and yet longing to go to a time where I didn’t know death as intimately as I do now.

I feel lost without those 500,000 people.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

And I know that each of us are grieving in our own way.

And when things implode, and my kids are frustrated beyond my comprehension, or little annoyances seem to take over the day, or it’s hard to get going in the world. I remind myself that we are all living with ashes.

Gather your Sheep, Good Shepherd.

Coax us, tempt us and hook us into the herd.

Tell me its ok if I am a Mara today. It’s ok that I feel too much, and want too much and still somehow dare to dream of a different way.

Remind us that you know each of the 500,000 by name. We have lost them, you promise they will be found. Like coins or sheep, precious and beloved treasures of God.

And my job is to keep walking, to keep finding the rest of my herd, to love those who are lost and to love those who are found.

Help me to keep walking the road to Jerusalem with 500,000 ashes on my tongue I pray.

Amen.

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

More Pandemic Resources

Ashes to Ashes: a Prayer

God, I’ve been living with ashes in my mouth for over a year now.

And though they are bitter and continue to color every single aspect of my day,

I find that I cannot spit them out. For you have put them there, Lord

Living with death is hard–it’s why family parlors became living rooms

It’s why death was exported from homes and churches to funeral homes

Because it’s tough to see just how fragile humanity is.

Is this like white fragility and male fragility? This mortality thing? Do we ignore it because we, mistakenly, think it makes us stronger?

And then in comes the Christ: an openly weeping male, here comes Christ who sits with the sick and the weak and the disabled and the young and the dying.

Here comes Christ, with dust in his hair and dust on his feet, and ashes in his mouth. Tasting his death for all three years of his ministry.

A taste, he too can’t spit out. A taste that when he tries to draw attention to it, or share it with his disciples, it is rejected.

How did it feel, Jesus, when Mary took a moment to sit with you in the dust, and to wash as much as it as she could off, and then to wipe it clean with her own hair? Mary–whose own brother had died–Mary was the one who was able to sit with you in the dust.

How did it taste, Lord? To drink the wine and eat the bread of resurrection, while the taste of ashes was probably at its’ strongest? Did Peter taste it? Or James or John? Did Matthew and Mark feel the grains upon their tongue? Was Luke aware of its dusty origin? Did Judas recognize the taste of death upon his tongue?

And that night in the garden, when the sand of sleep overpowered the disciples, did you feel the dust in the corner of your eyes? Did you wipe it away, or had you learned to live with it by then?

God, I’ve been living with ashes in my mouth all year, and we are going to enter the season of death, of ashes, of the dirty, dusty path to Jerusalem. And so I pray, that I learn to live and learn how to learn a little more from my own mortality.

I pray that some of the taste of ash is eased with the taste of the living waters of baptism and resurrection.

I’m tired of living with ashes on my tongue, God.

But here we are.

Help me to taste the truth and good news even among the ashes, I pray.

Amen.

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

Art by Beatrice Stenta

More Lenten Resources

Prayer for the Cold

God, my heat was out today, and my Northern teeth chattered in 50 degree heat and my hands and feet started to ache with the cold.

Please be with all those experiencing the storm.

Prayers for the powerless

the homeless

the cold

Source of Life, give resources to all those who need them today. Help them to find ways to eat and hibernate. Help them to figure out how to move or stay safely.

As our vortex becomes more and more polar in nature, help us we pray.

God help those of us who don’t have the infrastructure, personally or fiscally or civically, to withstand the cold.

Help us and our neighbors neighbors to reach out, let any and all warmth be shared and may we be able to safely depend upon one another.

Source of Life: help all of us who need to, to be able to weather the storm we pray. In the name of the encouraging, creative and loving Holy Spirit we pray.

Amen.

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

Life in Slow Motion: Lenten Prayer

God, I feel like everything is in slow motion. I can see what is coming, all of it, but it’s hard to react in a timely manner.

The bicycle of life is barely moving, and when we hit a bump. It hits hard.

When I drop the paper or burn my hand or yell at my child, it seems insurmountable.

Because, I’m going to be honest God, I didn’t have all that much momentum to begin with–I am so reliant on the treat of the day: the good meal, the sunlight, the 20 minutes to do nothing.

And, executive function is hard to get functional. And the tea caffeine can only do so much.

And God, I’m not ready for Lent, because I’ve been trudging through Lent all year. Living with death, remembering my mortality, feeling alone. God I’m don’t wanna.

I don’t want to do Lent.

But here we are, ready for the desert, for the trudge, for the bumps. Here we are ready to celebrate life and death, once again, with you.

With you.

God, this is a prayer from the longest and slowest Lent ever. Help me not to freeze or burn out. Help me to stay compassionate and caring. Send your Holy Spirit, because we here on Earth need it.

And I know we cannot just skip to Easter God.

So, I’m praying you send us what we need, even as we find ourselves in slow motion.

Amen.

More Pandemic Prayers

LENT Bag Devotional

Doodle Calendar: Fill out a circle for each day. You can simply color it, or do a doodle/word for each day. Good resources can be found at Praying in color here.

Supplies and Order of Use

  1. Jar of Dust (add olive oil optional)/Dirt from Outside
  2. Heart & drawing or coloring implements https://www.pinterest.com/pin/388294799096142644/
  3. Notecard & Pen
  4. Blanket, Sweater or Warm Drink
  5. Cross (shovel if you choose to bury it) https://www.pinterest.com/pin/28288303886542199/
  6. Candle & matches
  7. Palm Picture (writing or coloring implement) We recommend https://www.illustratedministry.com/2020/palm-frond-coloring-page/
  8. M & Ms/Colored Candies
  9. Stick or Rock and writing implements
  10. Breath
  11. Easter Egg (with a surprise charm/sticker inside: Butterfly, Flower, Seed)

1. Ash Wednesday February 17th

Luke 9:51

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem”

Set your Face towards God: Take a moment to step outside and look in one direction and contemplate what God has in store for you for this journey.

We will enjoy a meal together at 6pm and do worship at 6:45pm Look for the Zoom invitation

Jar of Dust

Alone or during worship

Think about how knowing our mortality helps to define us as humans. Take the jar of dust (feel free to put a couple of drops of olive or vegetable oil into it), and draw a cross upon your hand or face. 

Contemplate: Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

2. Sunday February 21st

Luke 10:25-28

“Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

Heart

Do a Check in with God. Check your heart, check your strength, check your mind, check your relationships. Take inventory and hand that information over to God in prayer. Write/Draw something about your reflection on the heart

3. Sunday February 28th

Luke 13:1-9

“At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

NoteCard

Tend a Garden: Give nourishment or space to someone in need or yourself. Pass on a treat or a kind note or give a moment of respite to someone who needs the spiritual nourishment. 

4. Sunday March 7th

Luke 13:34-35

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Blanket or Warm  Drink

God just wants to love us. Give yourself a moment to be the beloved child of God. Rest under the wings of Jesus. Snuggle up with a blanket, sweater or a warm Drink

5. Sunday March 14th 

Luke 16:19-22

‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

Cross

Think of someone who has recently experienced a loss or go through the obituaries today. Are there people who died who needs prayer; or who’s families need of love? Hold the cross and pray for them today. Hold someone up to God today, knowing that God loves them. If you choose you may bury the cross somewhere in a grass or a garden as a reminder of the resurrection.

6. Sunday March 21st

Luke 18:31-34

“Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.’ But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”

Light the Candle

Give yourself a moment to ponder the things you do not understand about God and the world.

7. Sunday March 28th 

Luke 19:29-35

When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.  

What would you lay down in the road in front of Christ? What are your willing to offer and give?Write what you are thinking about in the leaves of the Palm, or color the Palm while you offer it up to God

8. April 1st Mandy Thursday

Luke 22:1-27

“Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus* to death, for they were afraid of the people.

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus* sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’ ‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, “The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ ” He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’ So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it* until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.* But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’ Then they began to ask one another which one of them  it could be who would do this.

A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

M&M’s/Colored Candies

Love and Serve one another was the essence of the final sermon Jesus gave his disciples. Try to serve someone today. Try to love someone today. Practice the M&M Prayers 

9. April 2nd Good Friday

Luke 23:32-37

“Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus* there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah* of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him,* ‘This is the King of the Jews.’”

What do you need to “nail to the cross” today to be forgiven. Remember God forgave criminals even on the cross. God meets us where we are and takes us where we need to go. Confess your full self to God: the good and the bad. Give yourself over to God, knowing you are still beloved and that is why Jesus came, to love us. Draw a Cross on a stick or a rock.

10. April 3rd Holy Saturday

Luke 24:50-56

“Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”

Breath

Take a few minutes in silence. Prepare your heart for Jesus. Practice a Breath prayer. Breathe in the Holy Spirit and Breathe out your stress for 15 breaths. 

April 4th Easter/Resurrection Sunday

Luke 24:1-12

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Easter Egg

Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Easter somehow comes in spite of pain and mourning and death. What stone has been rolled away in your heart? How did God roll it away? How do you celebrate this freedom and release? Open the Easter Egg Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

This integrates with our Lent Calendar and Lenten Resources all of which are available here. Feel free to adapt/use.

If you wish a doc version of this. Email me at Katyandtheword at gmail with Lent in. The subject line

Back to “Normal” A Prayer

Jesus, when you were born. A political and religious refugee in the midst of a religious apocalypse, in an occupied country, with no citizenship or even personhood to be acknowledged. Brown Hebrew child born in the frailty of a human skin, did you ever long for normal?

When you scared the, excuse me, BeJesus out of your parents and taught in the Temple, did you wish that you could have been a normal boy running with your cousins where your parents could easily find you?

When you preached your first sermon and almost got thrown over a cliff, when your cousin John the Baptist was arrested and beheaded, and as you wandered around with a bunch of smelly disciples who were really great guys but who didn’t really get it. Did you worry about humanity’s obsession with being normal?

When you healed on the Sabbath–taking the withered hand into yours, touching the forbidden flesh with your flesh, ignoring the precepts of the day. Did you think, but yeah normal is overrated.

When you reached out to the Samaritan woman and banqueted with the tax collectors and enjoyed the miracle of feeding thousands of people with meager faire, is that when you thought, in your anachronistic, asychrononius way that normal is only a setting on the washing machine?

I bet that when you told the storm to shut up, when Mary bathed your feet in perfume, and when you climbed the mountain to hang out with Moses and Elijah you really embraced that your normal is counterintuitive and counterculture and anti-institution land anti-nationalism.

I bet flipping those tables felt really good, Jesus.

So here is my prayer, that we don’t go back to normal, not really. Because normal saw a lot of wrong and a lot of idols and a lot of vanities. Normal was all about the have and have-nots and racism and inequity and cis-hetereo-patriarchy was the name of the game.

I hope we know, that THAT game is already lost. Because Jesus promised, has and will always win.

And there ain’t nothing normal about that.

Thank you Jesus, for all that you are, and all that you stand for–fix our fixation on normal, and focus our eyes on you and all that you stand for: equity, sanctuary, healing and love, we pray in your mighty name Jesus.

Amen.

More Pandemic Prayers

calendar but the as the return to wholeness, health and peace in the community ‬

Please Share/Adapt with Credit to Katy Stenta and Please contribute to my Doctorate of Ministry with a Donation  I have PayPal https://paypal.me/KatyStenta?locale.x=en_US Venmo www.venmo.com/Katy-Stenta or Google Pay to Katyandtheword at gmail. My go fund me is located at gf.me/u/y8n94m

More About Me; My Story & My Writing

Confession of a stiff-necked person

God, my neck has been cracking all day.

And I don’t think it’s the 12 minutes of yoga I did last night. I think it’s years of stress.

Years of permission giving to racists, bigots and white supremacists, years of Christians defending heinous actions, years of children being separated from their parents, lgbtqia abuse and state violence against black and brown people.

And a year of a pandemic.

Makes me rethink those stiff necked people in the Bible God. Those who you confront.

Full Confession Jesus: I did not know that I was a stiff necked person. Though I am in good company with Hebrews in the desert, who time and time again were too obstinate and stubborn to listen.

What have I been unable to hear these last 4, 5, 6 years? As I tensed my shoulder blades and endured many headaches, where was I stubborn (in ways I did not realize) to survive.

It is a relief to let go a little bit, to roll my neck a little bit, to confess a little bit and to loosen my soul a little bit.

So here is a little bit of a hallelujah–as I watch the snow swirl and listen to music.

A little piece of hallelujah that you have opened things up, and that the yoke of life rests easier today.

Thank you, alleluia, Amen.

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

Please Share/Adapt with Credit to Katy Stenta and Please contribute to my Doctorate of Ministry with a Donation  I have PayPal https://paypal.me/KatyStenta?locale.x=en_US Venmo www.venmo.com/Katy-Stenta or Google Pay to Katyandtheword at gmail. My go fundme is gf.me/u/y8n94m

Hoping for Hope

Do you have hope? I asked one of the mental health patients on my ward, way back in Seminary as a I served my clinical unit.

No, she said, but I’m hoping for it.

God, you know how many times I have been in this position, hoping for hope.

I don’t have the hope yet. There are too many uncertainties, but I’m hoping for it.

Because God knows, God knows that we don’t have enough in place for us to be hopeful yet. God knows the illness, inequities and sheer number of existential crises that are going on right now.

But, you also know, God, that the Holy Spirit comes for us with radical changes in the crux of her very being.

So today, I will look for the Holy Spirit: for inspiration, encouragement, and yes even hope embodied.

Because even if I don’t have it, maybe I can at least recognize it along the way.

I’m just here, hoping for hope God.

So that is my prayer, that I can continue to hope for hope.

Amen

Image an original mixed art collage “Hope for Jan 20th” by Bea Stenta

Feel free to use or share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta