Truth: A Prayer

Guns don’t spell peace

Just like White Supremacy can’t define Jesus

And Transphobia doesn’t protect families–but breaks them

And making abortion illegal, never, ever prevents abortions

God,

How can we humans be so confused

as to take the truth and completely

misconstrue it

so that somehow we make Christianity about power

and Church about politics?

Sometimes I think about this and I think,

only us humans are silly enough to mess up

messages as simple and easy as:

Love and serve one another

or the last shall be first.

Yet here we are God,

Tangling Truths around our Tongues,

Tricking ourselves, with comforting lies.

Ignoring the whisper of the Holy Spirit that says:

Fear Not.

Nothing can separate you from the Love of God

You can never be replaced.*

I hope you have some truth for us today, God.

Some clear, cool and collected truth,

gathered into the waters of baptism–

spilling into our hearts and souls.

Because we need your truth.

Help us to tell ourselves the truth

I pray.

We pray.

Amen. Feel Free to share/adapt/use with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

*replacement theory is a dangerous white supremacist theory that white Americans are being replaced usually by Jewish and Black People and it promotes violence and terrorism against said “replacement” races and religions. It is dehumanizing, bigoted, wrong and as stated a terrorist training ground. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/15/us/replacement-theory-shooting-tucker-carlson.html

Imprecation

God,

I call you might and power

Against Guns

Violence

Racism

I REJECT this evil.

All the violence and the ongoing bombing across the nations

that is so commonplace, we don’t even report it anymore.

I reject all Violence,

What I’m saying is…

Peace of Prince; you need to deal with this.

And as for the ongoing fires, floods, tornados and hurricanes of the earth

Whew…Lord. I don’t know, because we have just done so little,

(so I’m sneaking in a prayer about that too)

I also deny the evil that prevents

Trans girls from playing soccer

Trans Families from taking care of their children

Trans Individuals from accessing healthcare

I call God’s judgement on you–because Lord Knows its above my pay grade.

I call God down upon those govern and who want to

force pregnancy and birth on all people, risking their lives, livelihood, liberty and happiness

but cannot keep enough baby formula on the shelves, free school lunches or childcares open

May God have mercy upon you, in the sweet and loving way that God because I do not even know what to do with this information.

God I am calling you–who gave your very body and blood as the sacrifice for peace–you who always set the table overflowing so every single person could eat,

You who never ask someone their immigration, sexuality or gender status before you heap their plates with food, and extras and leftovers to take home with the communion feast–

I ask you to come down here and talk to these people.

Because I am done with your Children today.

Amen.

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

Anti-Mother’s Day Prayer

This is a prayer for the ones aren’t mothers

The ones who claimed their bodies

and said, not right now,

or no,

Or whose babies couldn’t,

wouldn’t be–and so they wept a thousand tears, and said goodbye

before they had an abortion.

Here’s a prayer for those for whom the decision was quick,

and definite, because there was no time for anything else–and no room for any other decision to be made. And you know that God.

Here’s a prayer for those who felt too young or too old to bring a child into their lives; there are reasons why Sarai laughed folks,

This is a prayer for those who had too many children–do we know why Abraham and his coat of many colors and his stepmother died– and those who work too many hours, and those who do not feel like they would make good parents–Abraham I’m looking at you.

This is a prayer for those who were raped–like Bathsheba , whose bodies were violated who then had to make a hard decision afterwards.

Here’s a prayer for the widows or those hungry or alone or in hard situations like Naomi and Ruth. Here’s a prayer for those who choose sex work, who cannot be pregnant right now, the Rahabs who work in good faith.

This is a prayer those who might have wanted a child, but were definitely too unsupported–the would be Marys if they could have been–but they would have gotten thrown out, or who would have been in danger if they had said child–the ones who gave up their child, physically or medically because was just not to be–the Moses’s mothers of the world.

Here’s a prayer for the trans and the nonbinary people for whom healthcare and pregnancy or cost or some other piece was just too dangerous, I’m so sorry.

Here’s a prayer for the black and brown women, for whom birth control and abortion has become a tool of white supremacy to poke into their sex lives and to make them feel dirty–for all the Hagars of the world.

Here’s a prayer for all those who are not mothers, for whom abortion was healthcare, may you feel affirmed and blessed,

and know that there is no excusing faith becoming a weapon, to hem you in or to beat you up.

This is a prayer for all those who had moments of not-being mothers,

because Jesus knows that are beautiful, you are important, your choices are valid.

And he greets you by the well, and understands and affirms your decisions, and calls you lovingly, by name.

This is an anti-mother’s day prayer for you.

May you hold this prayer close when things get hard,

and know that God loves your full self,

the part that said no,

to say yes to a thousand other things–

God knows you and loves you.

May you feel blessed.

Amen.

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

Did She Want to Get Up?

The Resurrection of Tabitha/Dorcas is truly a wonderful miracle. There is Peter, and there are all the widows taking care of her who stand as witness as he says, Tabitha get up. To me, the most amazing part is, she does. She must have loved her discipleship. She must have had things to do on earth. Because part of me wonders if Tabitha laid down because she was really, really tired, so tired that she was burned out. In a time where more than half of women admit to being burned out according to Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/deloitte/2022/04/26/women-continuing-to-face-alarmingly-high-levels-of-burnout-stress-in-the-new-normal-of-work/?sh=12cd72432e5c

What kind of world are we running where we decide that the women of our society are allowed to be run off their feet? It’s ok to work our women to death—a truth I think which has only been laid bare by the pandemic. Certainly, most of our churches are primarily run and kept in order by women. And the more that is put on women’s plates, the less the church is able to do—plain and simple.

One of the main reasons Christianity grew was because it empowered women—it is shocking to see it as a place that now conversely hems women in. Shutting them up, taking away their individuality, sexuality, independence and power—regulating them to baby making volunteers for Jesus. A place where abortion becomes a dividing vote: https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/03/politics/abortion-politics-analysis/index.html Meanwhile, Acts makes it clear that the women were the original founders and financiers of the church, making disciples and decisions going forward.

I imagine that Tabitha wanted to get up because she had more good works to do—because she found the charity work in her life fulfilling, because she was a woman who empowered women. Why else would all the widows be there? Widows, who are politically powerless, but clearly have purpose beyond baby making in Tabitha’s world. They are the ones who are present. They are very, very important.

I am tired, of being angry that less women are employed now than when my mom was in the job market. That all women of color are especially being left behind: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/over-1-million-fewer-women-in-labor-force.aspx That abortion rights are receding.

That my queer siblings are unsafe, that genders are clearly & stupidly divided (by baby making abilities) and uteruses are a commodity to be bought and sold and that my value to many is about how many Christian white babies I can make—and that I am not a real pastor to most because I am a woman. I am tired, and very, very angry.

But I am reminded, that resurrection in Jesus Christ, is complete resurrection, one of joy and energy and that the work is good, and moreover—the widows are waiting. So I guess I better get up and get to work.

A version of this appears in the resources available in “The Immediate Word” section of The Sermon Suite subscription resource that gives all kinds of help in sermon writing and worship planning: https://www.sermonsuite.com/the-immediate-word. I am a regular contributor, and my colleagues are fantastic writers if you are interested.

Broken, A Prayer

Dear God

I know

Every time a denomination

Breaks over justice issues:

Like slavery, racism,

women in ministry, abortion rights,

And the personhood of LGBTQIA siblings

That you are crying big tears—

Tears that say

“Jerusalem O Jerusalem

I long to snuggle you under my wings—

Unified and beloved—

And peck to death any who threaten you”

Just kidding Jesus I added that last part,

Based on what mother hens actually do.

But I also think God,

As violent words, weapons, wars and rhetoric

Batters our souls—because after all bad theology kills

You crucified Christ know that better than anyone.

—I think about how you took bread

Among your beloved

You took bread

Blessed it

Broke it

And said “This is my Body Broken—

Broken for you”

Jesus, today your Body feels broken;

Again.

Bless it we pray

Bless this Broken Bread

Bless our crumbs

Teach us Belovedness

And

How to be a resurrection people

In the midst of brokenness

Scarred and real

So we can say together

We are Christ’s Body

Teach us this

we pray.

Amen.

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

Disability Glorified, A Prayer

Ableism kills,

Jesus you were not ableist.

What kind of diagnoses did your twelve disciples have?

Who limped, who was “ugly”

Who had voices, who had ADD or Autism or OCD?

….

As you healed and were asked,

What sin was committed that this person is blind?

The people asked, and, then our Savior said

None. Neither he nor his parents!

And then Jesus, you touched lepers,

those who were lame or blind or bled,

the poor, the oddly shaped and the dirty,

the ones who humans avoided even looking at–

because in our hearts of hearts,

we are so scared of disabilities that we avoid eye contact

afraid of catching it,

embarassed that we still

even today,

do not know how to interact

with people who exist differently than us.

—-

In some ways Jesus’s resurrection

might be the scariest thing of all.

Jesus you were young and healthy,

and died anyway, and the disciples

(of course) fled death.

Except for the women,

who probably had the most intimate

relationship with death and dead bodies.

…..

Jesus the Good News is not just that you returned

but you returned with holes in your arms and legs–

who were still wholly you, but unchanged.

You were still perfect, but your body was still yours!

What hope for those with disabilities.

It leads us to ask, are there wheelchairs and mobility aides in heaven?

Is it a place where your body is not weighty and there is no more pain,

but you are still you?

Are those with Dyslexia, ADD, OCD, Bipolar, Down Syndrome, Autism and more are–

Beloved and understood!

….

Jesus, I am so thankful that you got it,

that you get it,

that ableism kills

That you do not promise wealth and health!

That you do not need our bodies to be perfect for us to enter heaven–

You know Jesus I am not yet 40 and relatively healthy,

and I would definitely fail that test.

….

Jesus, I am thankful that as humans

make decisions that are more and more ableist

and fall more and more in the vein of a death cult–

(ignoring all those who aren’t fit or rich or whatever)

that I am hanging on

with every breath I take

that Jesus is not ableist.

….

And, maybe Thomas wasn’t either.

And as sure as the holes remained

in Jesus sacred body–

Holes that I am invited to touch

whenever I doubt or feel alone or scared of my own imperfections

I can breathe in

Jesus wasn’t ableist

and breathe out

And Jesus affirms all people.

..

Thank God for the Risen

holy, hole-y body!

Amen.

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

If you want to support my work, Please Contribute to my Doctorate in Ministry in Creative Writing at Pittsburgh Seminary. It is a degree as a Public Theologian!

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Bullshit, A Prayer

Jesus,

Your coming back was such good news,

that the disciples called it bullshit–

we translate it nicer in church;

can you imagine that?

……

Jesus did you think that our job

maybe

perhaps

as Christians was to do

such extraordinarily good things

that when we did them

people would say

Bullshit! No one would ever do that!

……

And not so like, anyone would become Christian

or perfect

(because lets face it Jesus,

people are onto you when you are trying to steal their souls)

But just like, treat humans with respect.

……

Sometimes I imagine that churches paid every single person a living wage

or rallying for the forgiveness of debts (Reminder: Jubilee is a Biblical concept)

and working hard for universal healthcare for our congregants (the stories I could tell)

or even just make it so every sanctuary was a sanctuary for immigrants

……and

LGBTQIA folks

and those who are mentally Ill

and Those with addictions

and people with disabilities

and those who were houseless

……

If all those could feel welcome, accepted, heard and be essential to the leadership!

A place for teens to hang out without anyone worried about lawsuits.

And we got past tokenizing everyone who is different than us (hello white church).

I bet if we worked on a couple of these things, the church would become more Christ-like–what do you think Jesus?

……

Sometimes I dream that churches were changing the world–

and then I wake up, amazed that no one has cried out

Bullshit!

……

God I’m praying for that kind of church,

until then, I hope I hang our more with

Mary, Mary and Martha,

and keep saying things that make people say

……

Universal Basic Income for everyone? That sounds like bullshit!

……

Can’t wait Jesus, Till then,

I’ll keep praying

Idle Prayers,

And doing the work to make them

Working Prayers again.

Amen.

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

Like my work? Please support my Doctorate in Creative Writing in Ministry–as a Public Theologian at Pittsburgh Seminary

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Shannon A Thompson

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