A-Part: A Prayer

God, I am tired of being in parts.

My family is scattered in different States

My church is scattered across the city

And the pieces and parts of myself that were for friendships and socialization are hard to find.

And we are all in the parables of the lost–we’ve all lost money, and our flock and family.

We’ve lost a year. A year of birthdays and friendships and fun. A year of school and work and experiences. A year of community. All of it has sucked, and been sucked our of it and we are all left in pieces, in parts.

I am so tired of being apart, God.

And I keep thinking, how we keep trying to be community!

First with the loving works given to us by artists, then with rainbows, then we bells ringing and neighbors singing, and parking lot hangouts and drive by parties. Bubbles and postcards, phone calls and chocolate, zoom calls and google calls and Skype calls and FaceTime calls–all to ad nauseum.

Look how we are all trying to be together while we are a part.

I think of my congregant in Japan who sends us masks and face shields,

I think of my congregant in Western New York who sends us articles and prayers

I think of our friend in Pakistan, or Dubai (depending) who edits our YouTube.

God we are trying, so hard, and I can’t wait to try this community again.

In the midst of being prodigal children, in the midst of being lost, we are trying to find one another!

God, be with us.

Inscribe on our hearts the lessons of essential workers and the inadequacy of disability checks of the skewed value of work over health, and the indelible effects that racism has on every single system we have.

God, I can’t wait until we can be in person together.

Then we will rejoice: we have found our coin, our flock, our family!

And until we are there, help us God, please help us to continue to look for community.

Because Church happens whenever we seek, find and are a community.

Don’t let us give up. Sustain us like the widow, like the shepherd, like the stubborn (and possibly too recalcitrant) prodigal family.

Help us to Find one another we pray.

Amen.

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

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Grading and Grace

God, I confess that sometimes I treat Christianity like a graded activity.

And it is all to my loss, because inevitably there is a typo in the bulletin, or a phone call I’ve forgotten to make or an email with the wrong attachment two or three times.

And sometimes, then I feel bad that I can’t do all of the things or help in all the ways I want to help.

And Lord you know, that my subconscious is telling me that points in my Christianity grade are being taken away.

But that’s not how it ever works God. You never ever take points away from us, but are always ready to give us points and credit.

T-Shirt (Recovering Perfectionist) | RamonaCreel.com - RamonaCreel.com

You fill our hearts with joy when we can help out! You create in us a celebratory spirit so that we can wish one another happy birthday, congratulate people on joyous life moments: like graduations, jobs, moves, babies, becoming heatlhier in any way.

God, you built us to encourage one another. To sit with one another when we are grieving and to cheer one another on, whenever we need it.

You give us all of the credit when we notice kindness, or build one another up, or remember to practice gratitude.

Christianity is the place where it should always be safe to ask for help.

And through your love, I am reminded that Christianiy has never been a graded activity. It is, after all, a place for the least of these to thrive.

Christianity is a place where sitting at the right hand of Jesus is not the goal, and washing the feet of those who need it the most is.

It is a place where perfection is admitted, up front, to be impossible, and trying our best is all that is required.

God, we know that your have designed the world, so there is no such thing as perfect faith, You will not give us a hundred on our Christian works.

Instead, you send the Holy Spirit to change our faith even as we change, and somehow still count it as valid.

Teach us again God that as faith changes us, we change our faith. We pray the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit prays us. Tomato, Tomato–God’s grace allows us to get all the credit.

Help us to practice the grace of Christianity, we pray. Suspend our judging nature, help us to let go of perfectionism and checklists and to instead be relational and growing in how and why we do this Christian thing.

Melt us, mold us, heal us, use us for your grace–whether we call it Christianity or not–let this be the way we live closer to you.

And when we fumble–remind us that Jesus Christ fully believes in the practice of extra credit.

In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.

Feel Free to Use/Share/Adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

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The Kingdom of Heaven Prayer

God, my heart is so happy whenever I hear or see that anyone has received the vaccine. It makes me want to throw a party.

So God, today the kingdom of heaven looks like everyone being vaccinated and going to a party.

No one is too early and no one is too late to join the party.

We are all dressed like we want God, to the nines or comfortably.

No one is jealous or pushing in line, no one is worried that there is not enough food or glamour or belovedness to go around.

Every single person is called by their name and preferred pronouns are used without a misstep or a blink of surprise.

God, today the kingdom of heaven looks like Spring with kids playing freely, unbothered but the stresses of the pandemic.

Homes are warm and dry and safe and accessible; everyone has one to go to and no one is afraid to go home.

People are supported: their status is not defined by their age or gender or class or marital status. Every person is celebrated.

People’s traditions and roots and experiences are valued and validated. Science is no longer, ever, seen to be in conflict with faithfulness.

And Faith is in the room. Faith that word which is almost never used to refer to a singular person’s set of beliefs, but instead is a word that honors the system of the community that glues them together through ritual and hope. Faith is abundant.

God, your kingdom come, your will be done. I pray now and forever.

Amen.

Feel Free to Use/Adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

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