No Plans, A Prayer

I’m not making any plans God,

I just wanted to let you know.

As great memes about fall plans, and their eminent demise,

are circling the internet, helping us to laugh until we don’t cry.

It doesn’t mean, that I don’t know what comes next.

There’s fall, and there’s school, and Halloween.

There’s stewardship and Thanksgiving and football.

I have a general sense as to what is going on,

and I have a sense of the rhythm.

But between, you and me Jesus, and the universe.

I thought I’d let you know,

that I’ve decided that I can’t really put any plans down

on anything as permanent as paper

no grand projects to pursue,

no pie in the sky goals–

Because I really don’t know what is coming next,

so here I am. The girl who loves the list,

the family organizer,

I am now without a plan.

I’m not giving up.

I’m still doing the next thing I have to do.

I still know what has to get done.

but its all way more ephemeral,

and instead of plans, its more like

that I’m making

sketches and blessings

and dreams

and relationships

(It sounds more perfect and beautiful than it is believe me)

I’m not making any plans God.

I’m just making do.

How about you, God?

Are you making do too?

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

There Are Just Too Many Hilarious “Fall Plans Vs. Delta Variant" Memes (20+  Memes)

A Prayer for Chaplain-ing an Apocalypse

God, No one told me that apocalyptic events were going to go one for so long.

I had never considered, when I watched the floods and fires in movies,

when havoc of the post apocalypse was depicted in my novels–too often it was skated over about just how long the chaos ensued.

So here we are

After years of warnings and castrophic governances–

a pandemic of, as I used to say as teen, totally epic portions, did not strike me as such a long term event.

I know, I knew that recovery would take forever.

Thank God, that I have it drilled into me, that recovery takes longer than the actual event, and I am aware and girded, appropriately, to start healing.

But I didn’t know

That my kids will be entering their third year of pandemic schooling.

That I would be jostling back and forth between regulations and meeting the needs of so many differing circumstances of ministry from 2019 til the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty one.

That I would still be stuck today in this:

mindset-shifting, world-changing, Revelation-timeframe-of-the-particular-dragon-that-is-the-double-pandemic-of-Covid-and-Racism-not-to-mention-the-ongoing-Climate-Disaster thing

and a multi year timeframe to just have the apocalyptic event itself, was not quite on my schedule Lord.

I thought catastrophes were sudden, and fast.

Where is my cut scene?

I hear we hit the economic depressive climax (lowmax?) in April 2020?

Just goes to show that money is a human made thing, don’t it God?

Lord, as we face this ongoing apocalyptic event,

As we minister in these times.

Give us what it is we need.

(Whatever that might be, because, I’m not sure what that is right now)

Because this story isn’t even in the the rearview mirror yet, and we are not yet ready to know how to tell it yet.

A colleague said it feels like we are Ron Weasley, working with a broken Wand,

doing the best we can–

No magic wand, no program, no methodology to “fix things” just presence and patience and prayer.

and maybe sitting down and reading Revelation again, or John, or Acts,

or Frederick Buechner, or Elie Wiesel or Martin Luther King Jr or J. R. R. Tolkien or Ursula K. Le Guin or Toni Morrison or Langston Hughes or Madeline L’engle or Octavia Butler or N. K. Jemison or….or….

Because God knows,

We’ve had to Chaplain Apocalypses before,

and we will have to do it again.

Be with us as we do, we pray.

Amen.

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

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

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

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