Hoping for Hope

Do you have hope? I asked one of the mental health patients on my ward, way back in Seminary as a I served my clinical unit.

No, she said, but I’m hoping for it.

God, you know how many times I have been in this position, hoping for hope.

I don’t have the hope yet. There are too many uncertainties, but I’m hoping for it.

Because God knows, God knows that we don’t have enough in place for us to be hopeful yet. God knows the illness, inequities and sheer number of existential crises that are going on right now.

But, you also know, God, that the Holy Spirit comes for us with radical changes in the crux of her very being.

So today, I will look for the Holy Spirit: for inspiration, encouragement, and yes even hope embodied.

Because even if I don’t have it, maybe I can at least recognize it along the way.

I’m just here, hoping for hope God.

So that is my prayer, that I can continue to hope for hope.

Amen

Image an original mixed art collage “Hope for Jan 20th” by Bea Stenta

Feel free to use or share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Pandemic Mourning

God, I don’t have enough tears for 400,000. If I cried for forty days and forty nights, it wouldn’t be enough.

So instead I’ll light the candle–and watch the flame gasping for breath.

And when I blow it out, I’ll bathe my face in the smoke. I taste ashes on my tongue.

Grief is never enough. The lives cut short, every single one of them, is a tragedy.

Anger rises, and I let it wash and let it go, because this anger is sadness in disguise.

I breathe in, and out, and feel the prickles of oxygen that others can no longer breathe.

God I don’t have enough tears for 400,000 people.

But you do. Mourn with me please I pray. Every tear for one of your beloved. May they fill the ocean with the salt of sorrow, so that we can never again let people die because they are essential or forgotten.

Mourn with me, I pray.

Amen.

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

Pandemic Prayers & Links to Support my Writing

Without Ceasing, I Can’t Catch My Breath

God, I know that I am supposed to pray without ceasing.

Prayer is like oxygen. Prayer like breathing. Thrusting all that I am and have and do upon your mercy. Over and over again.

Sometimes it looks more like a raging Psalm, and sometimes it is the endless search for how to pray today.

But God, I have asthma, like most of my family, and breathing is severely underrated.

Too often, I can’t catch my breath. Too often I am trying to hiss a prayer out between my teeth. Feeling like no oxygen is going in…making it hard to breathe or speak or pray.

Stress, might I add, doesn’t help.

And sleep is shaky at best. We joke that everyone has insomnia, and try not to be awkward with one another over our devices, all alone, on little sleep and little breath.

I’ve been angry, I’ve been sad. I’ve dealt with loneliness, depression and hopelessness.

And I keep trying to catch my breath to pray. I know I do not need to speak to pray God, but you understand what I mean.

Here I am. Praying the “I don’t know” prayer, surviving.

I love to pray until the Holy Spirit prays you. Meditating deep enough that your soul find equanimity and respite in prayer.

That’s not the kind of prayers that are going on these days. Its more gasps and sighs, gutterals and selahs. With shoulders hunched over computers, or a quick plea as we rush through the day, or the pondering that keep you awake at night.

Lord, hear my prayers, all of them. Connect the dotted lines of prayers in my life–so like my asthma, even when I struggle there is enough there.

And if I need an inhaler for praying, please provide it to me as soon as possible.

For I am weak and you are mighty.

Amen. Amen.

Easter: Topical Prayer

Topical Prayer: God, we are all the characters int he story. The women who find the stone rolled away, and are terrified of the angel, the disciples who do not believe the resurrection to be true, Peter who runs to see it all only to be left with the wrappings from the tomb. As we experience this story, let us embrace the amazement and perplexity of the events. They are truly beyond human ken. Though that is uncomfortable, let us sit with the wonder that Easter is we pray. Amen.  

Narrative Lectionary Lent: Luke

Finding the Way to Jerusalem; or Getting Lost

During this journey to Jerusalem, Jesus practices the grace that is found within his death and resurrection, twice. First he is rejected by Samaria, the shorter way to Jerusalem (Lent 1) and then he reclaims them as his neighbor (Lent 2), he reclaims them even as he journeys onward. Then we get los (and found), die and see ghost, and then, finally are reclaimed and found with Zaccheus. Journeying to Jerusalem is an exercise in getting lost, dying and resurrecting together.

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

Ash Wednesday: Bulletin Prayers & Hymn/Taize Suggestions, Topical Prayer

Lent 1: Bulletin Prayers & Hymn/Taize Suggestions, Topical Prayer

Lent 2: Bulletin Prayers & Hymn/Taize Suggestions, Topical Prayer

Lent 3: Bulletin Prayers & Hymn/Taize Suggestions, Topical Prayer

Lent 4: Bulletin Prayers & Hymn/Taize Suggestions, Topical Prayer

Lent 5: Bulletin Prayers & Hymn/Taize Suggestions, Topical Prayer

Lent 6: Bulletin Prayers & Hymn/Taize Suggestions, Topical Prayer

Mandy Thursday: Bulletin Prayers & Hymn/Taize Suggestions, Topical Prayer, Communion Worship Bulletin juxtaposing Psalm 23

Good Friday: Worship Bulletin juxtaposing The Lord’s Prayer

Easter Sunday: Bulletin Prayers & Hymn/Taize Suggestions, Topical Prayer

Children Ideas

Lenten Devotional Calendar: Feel free to email for doc version and link for google calendar (Katyandtheword at gmail)

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

If you need a doc version of all of this for easier formatting, email me at katyandtheword at gmail with the topic line “Lent” and I will send you a copy

If you appreciate my work and want to support me, please contribute to my Doctorate in Divinity in Creative Writing. I need $2,000 by June. and am more than 70% there! Any Amount is appreciated, and I am so thankful where they have gotten me so far!

Good Friday Communion Bulletin Juxtaposing the Lord’s Prayer

Journeying Alone

April 2

Good Friday

Crucifixion

Luke 23:32-47

Psalm 31:5-13

All: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name

Arrest

Then Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered, “You say so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.” But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 26As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus Luke 23:3-4,23,26

All: Give us this day our Daily Bread

Mourning

A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Luke 23: 27-29

Communion 

All: Forgive Us Our Debts as we Forgive Our Debtors

(Silence for Confession)

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23: 32-34

Option: To Nail Sins to the Cross or Blow out candles now

All: Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver us from Evil

The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:36-43

Optional Taize: Jesus Remember Me, When You Come Into Your Kingdom or Were You There When They Crucified the Lord 

All: For Thine is the Kingdom and The Glory and The Power Forever, Amen. 

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” Luke 23:44-47

Amen

Option: To Blow Out all of the rest of the Candles 

Music is optional to add wherever, since everyone is handling it differently, suggestions below

Hymns: Take Up Your Cross the Savior Said, Precious Lord Take My Hand, Why Has God Forsaken Me, Alas And Did My Savior Bleed


Taize: Jesus Remember Me When You Come into your Kingdom, Per Crucem 

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Maundy Thursday Communion Worship

All: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not Want

So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.” They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?” “Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters. Luke 22:8-10

All: Even though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

And speak to the owner of the house. ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.” So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. Luke 22:11-13

All: You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies 

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:14-16

(Option: Do a table preparation)

All: You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows

 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Luke 22: 17-18

(Pour into the cup)

All: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:19-20

Celebrate Communion

All: And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole long life. 

Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:25-27

Closing Prayer of Thanksgiving 

(Feel free to add music, but everyone is handling it differently, I suggest The Shepherd will Supply My Need)

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Maundy Thursday Topical Prayer

Topical Prayer: God it’s been a long journey. And you are ending it by serving us a meal. What an unexpected way for the journey to end. The disciples expected revolution and a call to arms. Instead Jesus spent time with those he loved, celebrating the festival of Unleavened Bread and Praising God. You spent your last night, as you spent your entire life: teaching and loving us by serving us. As we wander through this Mandy Thursday, help us to keep your commandment: to love one another, close to our heart we pray. Amen. 

Mandy Thursday Prayers

Journeying Together

April 1

Maundy Thursday

Last Supper

Luke 22:1-27: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=476536091

Psalm 34:8-10: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=476536110

Call to Worship

God, you call us to love and serve one another

Let us enter into this space as disciples of Christ

Jesus, you are about to break your very self for us

Let us enter into communion with each other and you, we pray. Amen.

Invitation: God calls us each by name to approach, come let us confess ourselves to God.

Prayer of Confession: Jesus, we are aware that you are holy and we confess that we do not always understand how you can be motivated to serve. We confess that we do not know how to love and serve one another. We get caught off guard by the command, and that it is very hard to put into practice. Forgive us, we pray. Help us to recognize the ways in which we and others love and serve one another, so that we might be better equipped to do as you command. We pray in your most Holy Name. Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: Hear the good news, Jesus will always forgive us. So let us reassure one another: In Jesus Christ we are Forgiven. Amen. 

Communion Prayer: Here we are Jesus, the time and place that you serve your very self up for communion. Bless these elements and this celebration of your death, we pray. Send your Holy Spirit, remind us that you created and love us, and give us what we need to sustain us through Holy Week we pray. Amen. 

Hymns: O for a Closer Walk with God, There’s a Sweet Sweet Spirit, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, 

Taize: I am Sure I shall see the Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Lent 6: Palm/Passion Sunday Topical Prayer

Topical Prayer: Jesus, you have done it. You have reached the end of your journey to Jerusalem. Thank you for letting us to journey with you. Thank you for letting us enjoy the full moment of your arrival with a festive parade and hope. Thank you for standing up to the officials and not letting them stop the celebration. Even though you know that things will spin to ugly very soon, you let us be our full human selves and do this Palm Sunday too. Grant us the courage and endurance for Holy Week. Help us to see ourselves there, so we can witness your life and death and sacrifice. Help us not skip straight to the resurrection we pray. Amen. 

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy