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

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

God, a prayer

God,
I’m tired
Of praying
For peace.

God,
I’m tired
Of praying.

God,
I’m tired.

God.

Amen.

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

Affirming Prayer

I want to pray for you and affirm

As the ashes have just been smudged

On your forehead

And we feel a little fragile these days

With war, and pandemic and climate change

And racism

And transphobia and homophobia

And all the Ableism

And all the hate—

So much hate that it’s bitter on our tongues

And it polluted the air we breathe

And we can feel it—

trying to X us out of existence

Because hate hurts all of us;

Even as it tricks the hater into feeling powerful.

But anyway I’m praying that you..

Yes you, know that you

Are created in the image of God

Exactly as you are.

With all of your so called flaw

And imperfections

And differences,

Remember that our God is

Manifold, and that they

Love multiplicity and variety

And invented rainbows

And galaxies

And microbes we can’t even see—

So trust me, and be affirmed

Even in, especially in your fragility

That you are known, created and beloved

By God, exactly as your are

And take their blessings I’m your heart I pray.

Amen.

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

The Lion, the Witch & The Wardrobe: Susan’s Story

Susan looked at her hands, because she couldn’t talk about her siblings while seeing anyone’s face “Well you know you have to stop playing games all the time. Sometimes I wonder…but if there was such a person, then why did we survive the war just to die. Fairy Stories do not do you much good when you are sad.” She then did look up and then rested her head gently on her husband Matthew’s shoulder.

Matthew, wisely didn’t say anything, for the moment.

Meanwhile, Bobbi hugged her knees in tight to her chest under the bed, thinking fiercely about what her mother said. She thought of what it might be like to have a passel of aunts and uncles…and for the first time it occurred to her that she was also missing cousins to visit.

The wind seemed to howl through the empty house. 

Matthew hugged Susan and said, “You must be missing them a lot today.”

Susan’s voice sounded like a frog’s, “It’s this old house in the rain, it rained nonstop that summer, you know. And…Rain makes me think of bombs though heaven knows…well everyone knows we were well away from all of that”

“I know.” Matthew said, simply.

Bobbie knew then that her mother needed a hug, so she uncurled, and scooted from under the bed and slid on the bed quietly snuggling into her mother’s arms.

“it’s ok, Mama, I’m sure your brothers and sister knew that you loved them very much, and that’s all that mattered”

Strangely this made the tears seem to come down Susan’s face faster.

“How could they not know mom? After all, you tell me all the time how it was that summer, that you had each other and your stories, and the dear old professor that somehow that was enough.”

Susan gave a little hiccup sigh, and seemed to catch her breath.

Bobbie glanced a the rain outside, which was really coming down in sheets, “And I guess if on rainy days the stories aren’t enough, that makes sense too.” 

Susan then collected herself, and said, “I guess these days I’m just trying to be realistic honey.”

Bobbie thought hard about this.

Matthew squeezed Bobbie’s hand, and Bobbie felt the knot that she didn’t know was in her chest loosen. 

“I don’t see why you can’t be realistic and still not know that tea with a faun is still important. I know you told me the story isn’t probably true Mama, but….”


Bobbie’s voice changed to a whisper…”Sometimes I pretend it is, and sometimes I pretend it’s me and Mr. Tumnus and my doll is Aunt Lucy, and somehow I feel like Aslan loves me anyway, and I don’t feel near as so lonesome anymore.” Bobbie bravely tried to say all of this without looking at the empty cradle where baby Thomas had once slept. 

Susan then did the best thing ever, and she looked right at Thomas’s cradle, then at Matthew, and then at Bobbie, and swept everyone in a big hug. 

“That’s ok darling, sometimes I still pretend its all true too. And sometimes it helps me when I’m lonesome. Sometimes I think we can pretend without believing. I think it’s  funny how that works.”

And they all sat on the bed and thought about it. 

Feed my Sheep. A Prayer

Jesus I wonder,

if when you said Feed my sheep.

Not one or two,

but three times,

if it was because you were hard to hear….

Or if the disciples thought they misheard you?

Or if you heard the murmurs of arguments…

What if they are drunks (alcoholics, addicts)?

Or sinners?

Or demon plagued?

Or diseased?

Or lame?

Did you take a deep breath, Lord?

And close your eyes and gather your patience,

and lower your voice to the teaching whisper–

and say Feed My Sheep again

with a little bit of frustration creeping in.

And then did you finish

with huge compassion and love

overwhelming the words,

so that the disciples could not help but

feel overwhelmed with the call to action?

Feed my Sheep.

God, may we hear the request…

the call…

the mandate today…

this is my prayer.

Amen.

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

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953 Flock Of Sheep Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock
Image: https://media.istockphoto.com/vectors/various-sheep-group-vector-id1144271973?k=20&m=1144271973&s=612×612&w=0&h=lfG6lGX-j0_a8SNBqw7MVkuQU8PD_QpHE0PVvyCO6vI=

Love One Another: Gospel Work

How can I tell you about the value of caring for one another?

You aren’t creating anything that can be sold, when you go to take care of a human being. There’s no plastic product or multiplying dividend. After all (mostly) we can’t buy and sell people–becuase when we do, the abuse is horrendous. To take care of someone, is in fact the counter of making money off of them.

I read that the more you chose to take care of the people who work for you, the less money you are going to make, because it takes time and money to take care of people and the rewards are not quantifiable in market terms.

It’s also hard work to take care of people. The babies, the elderly, the sick, the disabled need help because they are the least capable among us. We are taking care of them because they are worthy, and it does not matter if they can produce anything.

Our value is not defined by our productivity.

Our value is not defined by our productivity, but to take care of someone is a lot of work–the cleaning, the bathing, the feeding, the lifting, the entertaining, the shepherding. And yet, we pay those who take care of people, from the personal assistants to the home care attendants to the nurses to the childcare workers, the least amount of money, because after all they can’t produce anything.

Even in church the Associate Pastor or the the Christian Ed Coordinator has the least amount of pay and the least amount of power in the church.

We don’t value caring for one another much.

And yet, and yet Christ said love one another. Christ’s primary and often repeated and initiated commandment was to serve one another. Love and serve together seems a lot like caring for one another. Christ who found Zaccheus in the tree, talked to the lonesome woman at the well, who embraced an individual even as he was hanging on the cross itself, never wasted time on productivity.

Jesus wasted all of his time caring for the least of these. He welcomed the children who didn’t even count as people yet, he helped the widows who were a burden on society to be noticed, he took extra care to touch and  heal the sick and the disabled who were outcast from society, and he always had time for the poor who society deemed invisible.

Jesus’s work brought in no money, he told his disciples not to fuss about what they had and didn’t have, and to just go and do the work that needed to be done. He told them not to worry too much about how they looked or sounded, but to love and care for each other, no matter what the cost and sacrifice meant for them.

In the Gospel world, the work of caring is the most essential–because it is the most essential. Making sure everyone has food and shelter and clothing and community are the essentials of love. Jesus knew that to feel love, first one had to have the essentials, and then love follows.

Tell the Good News! Jesus commands, be witnesses, tell the truth of it. We are supposed to love each other so much, we are willing to die ourselves then let anyone feel left out.

God loves you.

Exactly as you are.

God does not demand perfection or taken or productivity.

You are a child a God, you are beloved, you are a part of the family–no ifs, ands or buts.

You belong.

Show one another how you value each other.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

It’s that simple and that hard.

Jesus taught us the value of caring for one another. Lord hear our prayer, help us to get through this pandemic through love and care. We pray this n the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Detailed Famous Maslow Pyramid Describing All Essential Needs ...

Preparing for Worship 2

Preparing the family doesn’t look the same. I no longer have to dress my kids up–which ironically they love to be dressed up because it elicits so much positive attention. We can go to church in our pajamas now.

Instead of the Panera bribe, I mean stop, we make every Sunday like clockwork for the last 6 plus years (before that we hadn’t committed but still went out for breakfast), we eat piecemeal at home. Now I just buy the ultra sweet supermarket muffins and make some chai pods for the morning. We may even still be eating them during worship.

Instead of hauling all of the kids to the car, usually one is still half asleep and the other two are bickering, we bicker at home and argue over whether or not we can use electronics before church (no)

During worship, attention is scarce, wiggling is paramount, and we try to get my eldest to be responsive. The music is also just not the same. We miss singing together with the booming organ overwhelming our flubs.

But, it’s still time for Dad and the boys to sit together. It’s still the time we are a family. I’m still “leading” up front and the boys are watching/listening/imagining/being bored.

Lord help us to practice worship as a family in whatever way we can, we pray. Amen

Preparing for Worship 1 

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Preparing for Worship

Lord, these days preparing for worship looks different.

I no longer prep the sanctuary, or listen to the choir rehearsing, or spend moments in my office opening myself to the Holy Spirit.

I don’t look around for the people in the halls and the pews, trying to greet them all by name.

These days, I wash my hands thoroughly and solemnly put on a mask, fully aware that my signature smile is hidden.

I place the video and sound equipment around me, making sure everyone can see and hear what is going on.

I put on gloves before I hand the order of worship to anyone, and make certain there are more than six feet between myself and the musicians.

And whenever I do all of this, I think of God. I think of my hope to serve. I think of my congregation and how much I miss them.

And I feel your blessing, as these movements of 6 plus weeks, have become a ritual of love and care and preparation.

Then I take a deep breath, like I always do, in every setting, send a quick prayer up to the Holy Spirit, and begin….

Thank you God for teaching me new ways to prepare for worship. Amen.

Preparing for Worship 2 Family Edition

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Mustard Seeds #faith #church #hope

I have a deep seated theology about belief vs. faith.

Belief is individual, Faith is shared–hence community of faith.

Faith is the vast array of beliefs, doubts, worries and hopes that are held in community.

When a disciple asks to increase faith, the disciples says, “Increase our faith”

The disciples feel like they don’t have enough, enough hope or energy or whatever to get the job done.

And Jesus says, you–plural all of you–all you need is the faith of a mustard seed, and you can do all the moving you need to do.

Luke 17:5-10

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”’

You know, I have never seen the thriving church. I’m 33 and I have never seen the church the way it used to be.

But I have seen the church. I’ve seen it in my small church which struggled to find a new pastor, which put in thousands of hrs to sit with and reconnect with the local community.

I have seen  it in the four years we could count on, the 6 years we’ve had and the 2 more (at least) that are going to happen.

There Jesus is, in a group of people who don’t know if they have enough resources.

Jesus doesn’t say don’t worry….I love this about Jesus, Jesus never says don’t worry. Because God knows to worry is to be human. We are great at worrying, we are super champs at worrying, and its how we deal with

the unknown

the unsteady

the scary

Jesus doesn’t say don’t worry, he doesn’t dismiss the worry or tell us its stupid. Instead Jesus says “I have good news, the good news is that all the faith any and all of you need is the size of a mustard seed. I can work with that amount of faith”

The implications being this faith is enough to grow.

And when we have those moments of faith, the hymn or the prayer, the sermon snippet or the conversation in the parking lot. We are church.

I have seen the church–come see it with me….

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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