Hungry, A Prayer

Jesus,

Sometimes I shuffle around the house

hungry for company.

So I turn on the TV

or talk to myself.

Some days, I’m stumbling in the depths of despair

so I take my 2,000 IUs of Vitamin D (I don’t even know what that means)

and turn on all the lights, and sit in the windows

to soak up the pieces of joy we like to call sunshine

And sometimes,

I can’t breathe,

And the world collapses in,

in such a way that my inhaler can’t help

because the enormity of a world coming to the end

is just too much to bear.

And so, when you promised–

When you promise that you will be my bread

and I will never thirst

These are the kinds of hungers

These are the kinds of thirst you are talking about

The deep pangs and aches of being human.

The empty spots.

That there are places, that need to be filled.

And healed.

“This is my body, broken for you”

And that sometimes we skip over those places.

Ignoring them until they scream into every corner of our being.

Ignoring them, until they demand to be healed, hungry to be healthy again.

Because, in the end, you know.

We humans are hungry.

To be noticed, to be fed, to be warm, to be healed, to be loved.

Sometimes I’m hungry God.

Sometimes, I’m so hungry that it hurts.

“This is my body, broken for you”

Feed us.

And help us also, to feed one another.

Isn’t that why you sat with us, your disciples at the table?

“This is my body, broken for you”

Teach us to feed, and be fed.

Restore us to the ministry of communion I pray.

Amen.

Feel Free to Use/Share/Adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Enough, A Prayer of Olympic Boundaries

God, I stand in awe today.

Of those Black women.

The ones who stood up

and once again said…

enough.

Proudly.

With the Strength on their Ancestors,

and with the Radiance of their Daughters.

They pushed the limits of everything,

Body, Brain, Spirit, Heart

Including Fame, and when enough

was enough

They said enough.

I thank you

for the eloquence

of their embodied

passion

the quivering, vibrancy of life

that streamed out of Simone Biles* and Naomi Osaka’s Very Being

The Self-Evaluation that Let Them

Tell Themselves,

And the World

To Have Limits

To Set Boundaries

To Say No

To Own Your Own Body

and to Say

I am Enough

I Have Done Enough

I am Beautifully and Fiercely Made

I am God’s Beloved Image Bearer

Enough

And The Stars will Sing Out

And and Angels will Sing Out

And the Universe will Sing Out

For we Are All Important Parts of It

And It is Enough

Thank You For All You Have Done

Simone Biles*

Naomi Osaka

Never Doubt

You are Enough

I thank God for you

Thank you

For Giving Your All

Physically and Mentally

For All Your Yeses

And All of Your Nos

Thank you

May You Feel God’s Blessings Roll Down

And May You Feel That You Too

Are Enough

Amen.

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

* with apologies with the wrong name before. I have a real issue (perhaps disability) with names which means that even though I double checked the name online my brain typed it wrong.

Please Check out #BlackLiturgies: https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/blackliturgies and The Nap Ministry: https://thenapministry.wordpress.com for more resources not by a white person

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.

Neverending

God, this is the week that never ends, in the year that never ends.

Always, towards the end of the school year there is an impossible week.

Where spring and summer activities collide in their not quite done, and just getting started-ness.

Always there is a week where the schedule doesn’t work, every day has triple obligations, and on top of that everyone is cranky.

And then, someone doesn’t sleep, and someone else doesn’t feel well or the car has trouble or the pet has to go to the vet or the computer quits working or a something else impossible happens.

God, timing is everything.

And this year, when I have spent more time with parts of my family than ever, and seen other parts and my friends almost not all…

This year when vacations and retreats are just gasps of breath in the midst of survival mode…

This year when all the “fun things” I thought I was doing to have fun turned out to be coping mechanisms essential to surviving, as they have fallen by the wayside and the to do list somehow continues while these other things don’t..

God Almighty, You know, how this year has been never-ending.

Like a song that is stuck in your head, nagging at you day in and day out, that’s how the pandemic works–always in the background, giving your headaches and heartaches. Always on the calendar as you figure out what to do and how to do it.

The stress presses down, on my head, on my heart, on my soul.

God, I have been praying without ceasing this year. I have cried and sighed and laughed and zoomed and emailed and turned on cameras and turned off camera, have put on masks and then then washed the masks, every single day of this never ending year.

I have examined every ache and sniffed and listened to every lonely heartache of my friends and family…..and taken-just-a-moment-to-center-myself all in prayer.

I am living into the rhythm of prayer Lord–one that is both structured and spontaneous, one that has been out loud and quiet, one where I’ve known exactly what to say and one where I’ve murmured nonsense to the Holy Spirit.

It’s the longest week, in the longest year I’ve ever lived.

So I will continue to pray, and live.

Thank God you are eternal, thank God that prayers do not cease, and are picked up by friends and families and churches and strangers when mine falter.

Thank God you are the song that never ends God.

Amen.

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

The Neverending Story, a Piece of Philosophy | by Alonso Monroy Conesa |  Medium

Week 4 Psalm 23

The Message Psalm 23

Laughing Bird (Australian) Psalm 23 

The Lord is my Grandma

Call to Worship:

God is Good

All the Time

All the Time

God is Good

Let us praise, our God

Let us praise our God who is always Good.

Prayer of Confession: God, I know sometimes that goodness and mercy are chasing me because I’m distracted, or too hurried. I know too that it is hard to feel goodness and mercy when I am overwhelmed or in survival mode. Help me. Help me to see and understanding and feel the goodness and mercy that are already in my life. Teach me ways to cultivate these: with rest, nourishment and a practice of living out of abundance instead of scarcity. Teach me to be a Psalm 23 sheep I pray. (Silent Confession) Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: God loves you, you are forgiven. Let us tell one another this truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

1st Scripture Reading  Isaiah 40:9b-11

2nd Scripture Reading                                    Psalm 23:6

Prayer of Dedication: Thank you for chasing me God. As I go into the world, remind me to stop for a couple of minutes, so that I can feel your goodness and mercy wash over me. Remind me I pray. Amen.

Hymns: Amazing Grace, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, Jesus Loves Me, If I but Trust in God to Guide Thee, Lord of Our Growing Years, Here I am Lord, God of the Sparrow, As a Deer Longs for the Stream, My Soul in Silence Waits for God, Any Psalm 23, Morning has Broken, Breathe on Me Breath of God

Psalm 23 Series

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

Psalm 23 Week 2 Psalm 23:4

The Message Psalm 23

Laughing Bird (Australian) Psalm 23 

The Lord is my Grandma

Call to Worship (Isaiah 40)

Have you not known, Have you not heard?

God is with us

When we need comfort, God will comfort us

Come, let us abide with God.

Prayer of Confession: (unison) God I confess, I am scared. Especially when evil surrounds me, even though I know your rod and staff are supporting me, I am afraid. I do not know whether to speak up or stay quiet in the midst of evil. I am uncertain at times if I should be standing firm or running away. And sometimes I find death to be very scary. Support me as I wrestle with these very real fears, I pray your Holy Shepherding Name. (Silent Confession) Amen

Assurance of Pardon: Hear the good news, God’s love is from everlasting to everlasting, ever available to support us even when our steps falter. Let us proclaim the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

1st Scripture Reading  Isaiah 40:1-2, 21-24

2nd Scripture Reading                                     Psalm 23:4

Prayer of Dedication: God help me to remember that you walk with us in the shadow of the valley of death, for you have been there before and know what it entails. When I am afraid, remind me that you do not fear evil. Help us to be brave and comforted as we walk in the world today and everyday, we pray. Amen.

Hymns: It is Well with My Soul, Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley, O Love How Deep How Broad How High, What Wondrous Love Is This, I love the Lord Who Heard My Cry

Psalm 23 Series

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

Psalm 23 – The Lord is my Grandma

Grandma, great and mighty God…                                                                                    

you take care of me and everything I need.

You make me rest in the cool, green grass                                                                          

because grass is good for my eyes, and good for my soul.

You take me where the water is still and quiet,                                                      

where the waters soak up the chaos of the streams of life.

You bring me back to life, filling in the gaps and chips and fissures of from life.                                                                                                      

You lead me in ways that are right so that I will be a credit to you.

Even though crevasses and ravines want to claim me,                                                               

I am not afraid because I am not alone.                                                                                               

Grandma, you are with me. Your crook guides and re-directs me.                                                         

Your walking stick, which aids and supports me, gives me comfort.

Grandma, you always cook for me.                                                                                        Y

you set a fine table no matter who is there—                                                                       

even if people who don’t like me—or whom I don’t like–come over.  

Grandma, you value me and praise me.                                                                                   

You cover me with so much love that it pours everywhere,                                                        

splashing on everyone there and even back onto you.

You hold my life like it’s precious.                                                                                      

You hold my life like it’s good.                                                                                                               

You hold my life like it’s beautiful.

Because you treasure my life, I will treasure my life too.                                                              

I will live every day as a blessed day spent at your house.                                     

Living forever in your house—and eating at your table–is heaven for me.

Thank you for being my great, and good, grandma.

Feel free to use/share with credit to Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl (pronounced Gaatle)

Prescient God: Rainbows & Trinities

Today I think that the most prescient thing God ever did was to hang their rainbow in the sky.

God knew what God was doing when they hung up the bow after the storms

Knowing that we needed the reminder that every storm runs out of rain–as Maya Angelou put it.

Knowing that it would be claimed and expanded by all of God’s queer children, proclaiming that love is love is love is love and that God created a multiplicities of genders and sexualities–just like God created a rainbow with thousands upon thousands of hues and in-betweens.

We need rainbows, because God knew

Before sociological studies and microscopic and macroscopic science; before we did our Genesis job of naming all of the people, places and things of the world, you knew that very naming would make us create divisions.

Before we made elaborate charts to discover and explicate the mystery of the Trinity, God, you knew

You knew how much we need rainbows

You knew racism would be a stumbling block of sin,

that normalcy is a illusion of bigotry

that being neurotypical or not is a spectrum….which is another word for rainbow

and that gray can beautiful color, and sometimes we sit in the gray–

God I always imagine that the Trinity is gray, in between and a part of the rainbow world you created.

And God, you knew that you, the Almighty and Many Breasted God needed to symbolically and in all practicalities disarm Godself.

Promising never to send natural disasters as punishment.

Never.

And putting the most powerful weapon of the time, the equivalent of a gun, up. Forever.

Because if God can disarm Godself, then it is clear what we should do.

In the midst of horrific gun violence in the US, the state imbued violence in the United States and Colombia, and in the midst of border wars in Armenia-Azerbaijan, climate asylum and violence in Syria, and the oppression and apartheid conditions in Gaza.

God you know we need to figure out how to live in concert and beauty in rainbows–and how to first and foremost disarm ourselves as you did thousands of years ago.

Thousands of years ago.

God, thank you for your prescience.

And for all the rainbows

And for giving us the time.

And the promises within the rainbow, that it won’t always be like this.

Help us embody your rainbow.

Help us to honor your rainbow.

Fill us with rainbows I pray.

Amen.

rainbow | National Geographic Society
Image

Feel free to Share/Adapt/Use this prayer with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

A Week of Hard Questions: A Prayer

God, this week I asked hard questions

About love and tradition and cultural differences. I asked (rather timidly even) if race played a part to our reactions.

And soon I found myself hip deep in a quagmire of pain.

People were triggered. They felt they needed to defend their pain.

And it was hard God, and part of me wanted to take it all back. Because I don’t want to create heartache.

But then I remembered two weeks ago when someone asked me hard questions about love and inclusion and the brokenness of the system that I perpetuated.

And although that was embarrassing and hard. I lived through it.

And in reflecting this experience I remembered that part of why I asked the hard questions this week was because as of last week I was tired of us: me, the church, consumer culture, ignoring hard issues and perpetuating whatever was comfortable for us.

Did you ever notice Jesus really likes to answer a question with a harder question?

You deconstructed me Lord. And I confess I need you to bless this mess today, because I’m going to be in the deconstructed zone for a while.

Because once God starts to deconstruct you, it becomes easier for you to see other places where the threads of normal need to be pulled apart.

And you can choose to continue the work God started, but it’s up to you.

So I guess I’ve reached a new level of maturity, where I stay in the muck longer than is comfortable, and I feel the anguish of racism on top of the anguish of those in pain.

And as my heart aches, I am thankful for all the times I was able to say:

“I don’t know. “

And “I hear you.”

As I sat with the pain and let go of the reasons and the arguments.

Do you sometimes say I don’t know God?

I don’t know

But thank you for helping me to brave the muck; and help me to muddle through, or sit, or cry. Help me to do this hard questioning thing I pray.

Amen.

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