Birds & Plagues

My breath caught God,

When I heard again,

the report of the plague

that was striking

the little birds

and the recommendations

to keep the birds six feet apart

I suppressed a messy sob when I thought about

How your eye is on the sparrows

just like its been on ours, as we fumble

on the bird feeders, on the masks, on the vaccines.

Bird by Bird,

Piece by piece.

God, your eye is on the sparrow.

And I think for a while, mine will be too.

Even though it’s sad, and hard to watch

A bird plague is much more manageable right now.

And if I can manage a that,

Then I know you can manage ours.

Even if the light seems to be farther away.

Even if Olympics and uneven vaccine distributions and delta variations

and one step forward and two steps back seem to be the norm

even then, maybe I’ll remember that you know how

…to take down the bird feeders

so….

In your Eye. I think I’ll rest a while God.

and leave this half unfinishished prayer in your lap

while I fidget with the birdseed, and watch the birds….

Amen.

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

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

Pandemic Era Prayer

God, I am praying the prayer of an impatient people.

I truly feel that I am, and we are, the direct descendants of the Hebrews who grumbled and complained from the moment they were freed from Egypt. Impatient for the new beginning to start. I feel their pain.

I pray the prayer of chaotic leadership, lifting my prayer beside Moses and Aaron and Miriam and Tzipporah, who had to balance what the people want with what is best with the community, and the two often do not agree, and are almost always hard to discern.

God I’m praying the prayer of the weary, of Hagar alone and frustrated in the desert, of Abram and Sarai who had to move from place to place to place before finding a home and establishing a household. Is the end in sight? Can I recognize it when it is?

I’m feeling very anxious God. As the news of De-mask-us starts to filter out, and yet, and yet, I hold so many immune compromised people in prayer for cancer and surgery and long term illness. I’m praying the prayer of confusion as I try to sort out what is safe for my children and how to keep them masked, even as adults look forward to seeing one another face to face.

Lord, I’m praying the prayer of the privileged in a nation where vaccines a plentiful, and sometimes even wasted in the face of India’s medical catastrophe that on so great cannot help but spill over to her sister nations–a sharp reminder that it is already affecting us, and I hold onto my prayers for well resourced nations like Japan who, yet still, do not have access to the vaccines.

Lord, I pray the prayer of the brokenhearted, I shed tears with Jesus for Jerusalem and all of the violence that has been purposefully perpetuated against schools, hospitals and publishing houses in Palestine. I pray for the fight over land and water and occupancy that is being done in your name. I sorrow that oppression continues.

God I’m praying the prayer of ignorance, as one who has only been able to superficially take in what is happening in Colombia. Weary and heavy burdened I understand that police violence reigns terror in many places, including my own, and I do not even know what to do next to help to dismantles the powers and principalities as they exist now.

God I pray the prayer of a parent who has had a mere hours of true relaxation over the past year. Is that how it’s been for you God, have you been superbusy watching over us and drying our tears and helping us to clean up the messes?

God I’m praying a multitude of prayers today, as I face the window, a portal into a new era, uncertain as to what will come next, and still weary from what has happened. I am so ready to close the door of the pandemic, and yet am aware that this is not how things work.

So instead, I life this prayer of snips and bits to you.


Be with me in ::gestures broadly at everything:: I pray. Amen.

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

More Pandemic Prayers and Resources

Mundane Prayer to Survive the Day to Day

A Different kind of Rest

God, I wonder what it was like,

when David was king and pondered an enforced rest.

David, who had trauma in his family and then perpetuated trauma on his friend, and raped a woman.

David, who dealt with the physical pain of a sexually transmitted disease that roiled him for years.

God, how stretched was David, when he prayed for a rest that would not let him go.

When David harkened back to simpler times, and longed, not even to be a shepherd again, but to instead be the sheep.

David, reimagines rest as something to be protected, with a staff and a rod.

David sees true rest as being able to let go of his enemies, and eat and drink without having to worry about being attacked.

David, who was so privileged and powerful needed rest.

How much more do we need rest after the pandemic.

How much more do our Black and Brown siblings need the space to rest, and the time to reinvent what rest and rejuvenation looks like?

How much more do our queer siblings, need sabbath?

How much more do our beloved trans* individuals need sanctuary?

Hustling is not going to cut it anymore. You can’t out hustle a pandemic or trauma or racism or bigotry.

God, drive those who need to, down to the cool waters.

Chase them down with goodness and mercy.

And remind us, that Sabbath, like blessings, is not pie. There is enough to go around. We need to create space for rest with one another.

Help us to create a culture of Sabbath, I pray.

Amen.

Again I have to give theological credit to @TheNapMinistry and Nap Bishop Tricia Hersey for their continually revolutionary take on rest. https://linktr.ee/thenapministry

Please share/adapt/use with Theological Credit to “The Nap Ministry” writing credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

The Last Mile Prayer

God what is it about the last 15 minutes of a trip, that causes incessant squabbling? Doesn’t seem to matter if the trip is 1 hour or 15 hours, the last miles are the worst.

What is about seeing the top of the Mountain, that makes me think, well I almost did it, maybe it counts and I can turn around and go back down?

Or sometimes, when I’ve almost reached the place that I am going, I take a wrong turn. And it feels so unfair, not to mention embarrassing, to make a mistake when I am this close to the end.

And, I know that after every event is over, I feel exhilarated and happy, but then, somehow, there is still clean up to be done.

God, I know we are coming to the last miles of the crises. I so, so, so wish that this is like the perfect bicycle ride where we can glide downhill from here.

But experiences has taught me that finishing things can be at least as hard, if not harder than starting them.

Only you know God, how much I really am out of breath, and tired, and so you understand that I am not really looking forward to the work after the crises.

Because I know there are changes that need to be made, and that we can’t give up now!

Is this how Moses felt as he and the Hebrew people came towards the end of the journey through the desert? Was he somewhat grateful to leave the final steps and close up to someone else?

Is this how Mary and Martha felt as–I assumed they were stuck with– cleaning up after the Last Supper? The feeling that things are almost over, but somehow not.

Is this how Noah and his wife and children felt when the floods had receded and the real work of rebuilding the house, the family and replanting all of the food began? The knowledge that survival is not enough, now they had to build things better than the first time so that this type of apocalypse would never happen again?

God, I know we aren’t done yet. There are many obstacles in the way, and there is much to be done.

Strengthen us as we work towards this new world.

Inspire us as we try to figure out how to rebuild

….and soften us, help us to unclench our jaws, remind us to continue the hard work of breathing in and out

and give us the ability to be vulnerable with one another as we enter into a time where compassion must continue and openheartedness will be valuable in leading us the right direction.

Sustain us with your Holy Spirit we pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen

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

More Pandemic Resources here

Bear in Norway balances on branch 50 feet in the air | Daily Mail Online

Trauma Prayer

Here is a prayer for the survivors, who were left by those who got sick and died.

A prayer for the workers who were deemed essential–and never got a break from the work, the breath, the spit, the talk, the-show-up-to-get-your-paycheck.

It’s a plea for those who were “let go” told that they weren’t important enough to keep getting paid.

It’s a recycled prayer for the homeless and the hungry, who are the same as ever, only worse.

A love note for the queer fam, whose barriers only increase when people become stressed.

Here’s a prayer for the black and brown people the Native Americans, the Asians, the Immigrants…the ignored, habitually mistreated and forgotten. The “inaccessible” for healthcare, the ones who always have to sit on the bottom, except for deaths in the pandemic where they ride high.

Here’s a chant for Black Lives Matter–words that start, but don’t do enough to create a structure for reparations.

Here’s a prayer for the abused, alone and trapped.

A prayer for the addict, who is living the days, and the nights trying to figure out treatment in tough times.

This is a cry for the lonely: the elderly, the singles, the disabled, the sick. Lord, you know there are too many ways for us to feel lonely in ordinary times. Here’s an extra cry for them.

Here’s a prayer for a moment–for all those who are caretaking or parenting, those who have had not respite and no relief, for whom the to do list has lengthened and the how to list no longer exists.

This is a prayer for the children, who know in their bones what they are missing, even when they don’t know what they are missing.

We are praying for all of the world together–because this is our traumaversary–a moment when we look at the world that has ended, and has not yet a world to look towards.

We have to relive the trauma of the loss, and we still haven’t learned how to Cope with it Lord.

This is a prayer for me Lord,

Because I’m tired and lonely, and I don’t even know if I’m hungry or bored or just dealing with depression. This is a prayer for my family, because “okay” is all we can go for right now.

This is a prayer for the traumatized. Help us, we pray, Save us, we pray.

Amen.

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

Trauma Anniversary Info: https://www.mentalhelp.net/ptsd/anniversary-reactions-to-a-traumatic-event/

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

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

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'