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

Ducks: A Blessing, et al.

This blessing has been published by Enfleshed for the online addendum to Held a book of blessings. The Original link is here. Two of my other Pittsburgh Seminary D. Min. Creative Writing Classmates got picked up for the online addendum and two of my classmates–Molly Housh Gordon and Walter Canter– got in the Print edition which can be ordered for 2nd printing here.

Ducks: A Blessing
by Katy Stenta

God knows, I don’t know where my ducks are
so they aren’t in a row.

How do I prioritize?
Everything is important
Schedules are nebulous, houses are messy, kids need attention.

God, you know, the ducks are waiting
Sometimes they quack at me in the middle of the night.

Is this how the prophets felt?
Chasing down the Wild Goose of the Holy Spirit.

Did they know their ducks would never
ever be in a row?

And that the wild birds of
Friendship, inspiration, food, silliness, etc
Would be the wild blessings of the Holy Spirit

.

Blessed are the ducks
Silly, quacking, never in a row
Blessed are the messy houses,
the children, the imperfections
the neverending tasks of relationships and adulting
the quacking in the middle of the night.

Blessed is the struggle
for it is real, and magnificent.

Katy Stenta is the mother of three, pastor, dreamer, fantasy/sci-fi romance reader and sunshine catcher, and wife of youth librarian Anthony. She enjoys writing blessings and prayers.

Who Am I by my classmate Joanne Spence

I am heavy
I am light

I am full
I am empty

I am shadow
I am bright

I am the me who sees and hears.

Oh, to the songbird
All the sights and sounds

Fluttering gently in my subconscious mind

I. Am. Here. Now.

God is closer than my breath.
That’s the me I see

Here. Now. Sensing Her presence

The Divine Feminine in me.

By Joanne Spence

Joanne Spence is the author of “Trauma-Informed Yoga: A Toolbox for Therapists.” She is a yoga teacher, social worker, and spiritual director. She likes to hike, bike, read, cook, dance, and travel, just not all at the same time

A blessing for wanting to belong by my classmate Jordan Miller-Stubbendick

Alone in the cafeteria, I grip my lunch tray,
slightly damp from its turn in the industrial dishwasher.
I seek a friendly face under the harsh fluorescent glare.

One Who Sees, you notice me standing there,
swirling with the fear that I am
not cool enough funny enough sparkly enough.

Friend Of My Heart, you are with me in that cafeteria
As I look around, taking shallow breaths.
Steady One, you catch my eye and smile, beckoning me over
There is a seat for me at your table—and for all of us
Who ever feel not cool enough funny enough sparkly enough.

Divine Embrace, you sweep all of me up
into your ever growing rainbow embrace
into your warm blanket of peace, of rest.

You say: Come. Sit with me.
Set down your fears and frantic striving.
I see you just as you are, and I love you always.
Yes, you are so much more than enough.
You belong, and there is a place for you here.

Jordan Miller-Stubbendick is a writer who lives in Buffalo, NY with her family.

Blessings for a Gentle Holiday (full text)

Blessings for a Gentle Holiday

May you have a gentle Holiday

Full of kindness, and understanding

and moments of warmth and coziness.

May you have a holiday with enough space and time

to be alone or together

to weep or sigh

to remember…

***

May your holiday give you the kind of rest you need

with reading or physical activity or doing nothing

or to do the crafting or peopling or not peopling

or sleeping or creating or not knowing

or caring…

whatever it is that you need to do,

or not!

***

May you have a gentle holiday

with the permission you need to not have to be “Merry”

but to be your full authentic self,

and to be kind to yourself, your boundaries, and those you love.

This is both my blessing and my prayer for you this season.

Amen.

A Blessing for (Surviving) Today

Here’s a blessing for you.

Because you are still here,

And it’s been a year, of ::gestures inarticulately:: everything.

And we need all the blessings we can get.

So here’s a bless this mess.

A blessing on your head,

one that grants you good dreams,

and moments of respite,

and times to let go,

and moments to connect with your beloveds,

and reminders that your worth is not defined by your productivity

and that its ok not to be ok

and that this is not the new normal, nor should it be.

So all the blessings–

for being here,

and doing the things

and being you.

Keep at it! Take breaks,

Drink water, take care of yourself,

and be blessed,

For you are a beloved child of God.

No matter what.

God bless you, Child of God.

Today, Tomorrow, and Always.

Amen.

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

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

If you find these resources useful please consider contributing to my Doctorate in Ministry in Creative Writing! I have already Successfully funded year 1, and am now working on Year 2!

Sept 26: Jacob’s Dream

Living Into this God Given World: Dreams and Blessings

Genesis 27:1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17

John 1:50-51

Psalm 121

Call to Worship:

God of unlikely blessings, be with us today

Help us as we journey, give us what we need

God of dreams, go where we go

Let us journey with God today.

Confession: God, we confess that sometimes our blessings and dreams confound and confuse us, like Jacob. At times we are uncertain what it is God wants us to do next. Help us on journey. When our steps falter, be with us. When the future is uncertain, comfort us. When the world is overwhelming, help us to rest. When we realize we are imperfect, equip us. Remind us that you are our God no matter what, and help us along the way we pray, Amen.

Prayer of Confession: God, I confess that sometimes, I am like Jacob. Sometimes, I am not even asking for help, and yet you are there. Present with dreams and blessings that I did not know I needed. Please continue to give me what I need I pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Be assured, your help will always come from the Lord. Know the truth, In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God you are mighty in your mercy. You do not need to be tricked into blessings, for they are abundant. Let us go into the world assured of your blessings. Amen.

Children: Talk about how Jacob thought he was tricking a blessing out of his father, but actually God gave bonus blessings to Jacob and that was the real trick. Perhaps use the illustration of an overflowing cup as to how blessings work. God fills our cup til overflowing and then it is our job to use our cup to fill other people’s cups

Hymns: There is a Wideness to God’s Mercy, Take My Life, O Jesus I Have Promised, Guide My O Thou Great Jehovah

Some Writing on Jacob being a Heel

More Narrative Lectionary Year 4

If you find these resources useful please consider contributing to my Doctorate in Ministry in Creative Writing! I have already Successfully funded year 1, and am now working on Year 2!

Christmas Blessing

With Credit to @blackgirlinmain Shay Stewart Bouley on Twitter who congulated those cooking their first Christmas dinner–with full empathy for how nerve wracking it is– her tweet inspired this.

A blessings on all those who had to cook, who aren’t usually responsible for Christmas dinner–blessings for those who did tacos or takeout or didn’t cook at all and just rustled up whatever was around.

A blessing for whom the Christmas rituals were too short this year, missing people and missing traditions, and a blessings for whom they were too long because the holiday is such a struggle.

A blessing for those for whom Christmas is the end of a very long and very tiring season and they are awaiting a little bit of a break or a restart, and a blessing for this for whom Christmas means no break at all, and often means double work and double stress and little grace or gratitude from those around you.

A blessing on those who have experienced a loss, for whom Christmas hits hard and lonely, a blessing for those who are dealing with infertility when everyone is screaming about babies being born.

A blessing for the families who don’t have the money to do Christmas, for the families that are too busy worrying about a roof over their head or food to eat to feel blessed in any way.

A blessing for the sick and those caring for them. In this time of trial, may there be compassion and moments, however brief, of respite.

A blessing for those who aren’t sure if they want to celebrate Christmas, for whom it’s complicated or carries too much baggage or carries too many to do lists or litmus tests of faith.

A blessing for those for whom this is their “first” Christmas of any kind, good or bad, because transition is tough and we need these blessings.

A blessing on those who are tired, alone, trapped, in danger. A blessing for victims of abuse, victims of state brutality, those who are imprisoned and those who are stuck in violent or unsafe situations, a blessing for those in the midst of war in what should be a season to pursue peace.

A blessing for those who are searching for hope: through family or friends or social media, a blessing because the search can be long and hard and you can get lost upon the way and talk to the wrong people as the magi can tell you.

A blessing for those whom I’ve forgotten, those who are at the corners of my mind, but somehow skipped over. I lift you up to God, because God knows your heart. God knows the blessings you need, so I pray that God gives you the blessings you need.

Christmas Blessings be with you all.
Amen.

Seeds: Narrative Lectionary Resource 9/16

 

Resource: By Pastor Katy Stenta, solo pastor of a bigger on the inside Church New Covenant Presbyterian in Albany, NY

Scripture

Genesis 12

Matthew 28:19-20

Additional Scripture: Matthew 5-7, Psalm 115

Meditative Thought And the Lord said Go Go into the world and tell the good news, for what is news if you keep it to yourself? 

Call to Worship:

This is the day that the Lord has made

Let us rejoice

This is the church that the Lord has made

Let us rejoice

Bless and be a blessing, this is the covenant that the Lord has made

Let us rejoice and be glad in it

 

Call to Worship

Lord we like it here.

Go into the world 

We are happy with the Church

Make more disciples and include all nations, sexualities and genders

What can we do to make certain they are Christian?

Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit

Call to Worship

Bles the Lord, all the people

Praise God’s Holy Name

Blessings are given to us by God

And they never run out, so let us be blessed and be a blessing to all

Prayer of Confession: Holy One, we confess that we do not count our blessings, instead we hoard them, thinking they run out or are like pie. Remind us that blessings are not pie, they are like seeds or a cup overflowing or a banquet for all people. Give us the vision of how your blessings work we pray, and forgive us when we stumble or forget. In your Holy Name we pray. Amen

Prayer of Confession: God most high, forgive our sins we pray. Reclaim us as your baptized children, remind us of your love and mercy. You were the God of Abraham and Sarah, you blessed them and promised to always be their God. Be our God, teach us to be your people we pray in the name or your son. Amen

Prayer of Confession: Heavenly God, we confess that we do not know how to bless one another. On our worst days we give gossip and judgement to one another. On our best days we share food and money with one another. But blessings are harder. Teach us how to bless one another. Reveal to us your blessings in the rainbow, the taste of the bread and the cup and the splashing of the baptismal waters, so we might begin to bless one another again, we pray together in the name of Christ. Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: Go forth, proclaiming the blessings of Jesus Christ, practice forgiveness as you are forgiven in Jesus Christ.

Assurance of Pardon: God’s mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, infinite grace for each and and every one of us. Let us proclaim the truth to one another: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven

Assurance of Pardon: Amazing Grace, how sweet the song, that saves wretch like me. Know the truth, once you were lost to love, but now you are found in the grace of Jesus Christ, know that you are completely forgiven in the name of Jesus.

Eucharist Prayer: Source of all blessings, you breathed life into earth and then formed an everlasting covenant with Noah to nurture us with rainbows, and with Abraham and Sarah to spread your blessing throughout the universe of stars. You then blessed us with Jesus Christ, your only son who insisted on blessing the young and old, the poor and the rich, the sick and the well. Jesus’ continuous blessings overflowed even into the last meal that he has with his disciples, where he took bread, blessed it, broke and said “This is my body broken for you do this in remembrance of me” and then he shared that blessing in the bread to feed all present. Then in the same way, Jesus took the cup and in the same way blessed it and said “this is the blood of my new covenant, poured out for each of you. Whenever you eat this bread and your drink this cup, you proclaim my death until I return.” Bless this bread and cup with your most Holy Spirit, we pray, so we might be nourished to continued your work of blessings as we go forth, we pray. Amen.

Prayer Dedication/Ending Prayer Bless be the one who binds us together, reminding us to love one another through sharing our blessing. Send us forth as true disciples of hope and sharing we pray. Amen

Food for Thought

Agnus 1

Comic: https://www.agnusday.org/comics/16/genesis-121-4Matthew28v16to20_2014.jpg

comic: https://www.agnusday.org/comics/625/matthew-28-16-20-2014

Holy Ghost

Comic: http://adventuresoftheholyghost.tumblr.com/page/2

 

John Calvin “All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.”

Mr. Rogers “The real issue in life is not how many blessings we have, but what we do with our blessings. Some people have many blessings and hoard them. Some have few and give everything away.”

The following reflection on the Beatitudes comes from Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Christian, in “We Belong to the Land” (pp 143 – 144).

Knowing Aramaic, the language of Jesus, has greatly enriched my understanding of Jesus’ teachings. Because the Bible as we know it is a translation of a translation, we sometimes get a wrong impression. For
example, we are used to hearing the Beatitudes expressed passively:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
“Blessed” is the translation of the word MAKARIOI, used in the Greek New Testament. However, when I look further back to Jesus’ Aramaic, I find that the original word was ASHRAY, from the verb YASHAR. ASHRAY does not have this passive quality to it at all. Instead, it means “to set yourself on the right way for the right goal; to turn around, repent; to become straight or righteous.”
How could I go to a persecuted young man in a Palestinian refugee camp, for instance, and say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” or “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven?” That man would revile me, say neither I nor my God understood his plight, and he would be right.
When I understand Jesus’ words in the Aramaic, I translate like this:
Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for you shall be satisfied.
Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you peacemakers,
for you shall be called children of God.
To me this reflects Jesus’ words and teachings much more accurately. I can hear him saying, “Get your hands dirty to build a human society for human beings; otherwise, others will torture and murder the poor, the voiceless, and the powerless.” Christianity is not passive but active, energetic, alive, going beyond despair.
One day two bats fell into a pot of milk. The pessimistic bat said, “What can I do? Will I struggle and sink, and die so very tired? I will not die tired.” He sank and drowned immediately. The optimistic bat said, “I will strive to the end, and at least they will say I tried everything.” She struggled and struggled, trying to fly, until she fainted. Later she awakened and found herself resting safely on a big roll of butter. This is not giving in to despair, but going beyond despair.
“Get up, go ahead, do something, move,” Jesus said to his disciples.

Music:

Taize: Bless the Lord My Soul

Bless Be The Tie that Binds

Lord I Wanna Be a Christian In My Heart

Amazing Grace

As For Me and My House, we will serve the Lord

Bless Be the Tie that Binds

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine

Lord Dismiss Us with Your Blessing

Great Is They Faithfulness

The God of Abraham Promise

God of the Ages, Whose Almighty Hand

Craft Ideas: God’s promises as knots with rainbow beads in a bracelet, Decorate tissue boxes and remind people to “Bless and be a Blessing,” Crayon draw a lot of white stars on black paper, Draw white stars on white paper and then watercolor paint over it for it to “appear,” Start a gratefulness chain writing down so you can “Count your blessings” together

 

A Parenting Parable: A Fig Tree

“Hurry UP!”

Sometimes I can be a tad impatient with my children, especially my “almost” 5 year old. For example last Friday we were late to school because every single thing I asked him to do he said he would and then didn’t. Making me repeat myself over and over again.

Last week I was trying to nap during my children’s nap/quiet time (quiet time for the older boys for 1hr, nap time for the baby and perhaps my 3 year old depending how good a job we did of wearing him out). My mistake was to try to nap upstairs (my window get a nice piece of sunlight to sleep in midday: I’m part plant you know). Every couple of minutes it was “mmmooooo—ooomm–maaaa….how do I spell….” followed by some word that was somehow related to Dr. Suess–which is our current obsession. My problem was I was so tired I couldn’t follow through on my threats so I kept saying “this is the last time” spell it and inevitably he would return….

What amazes me about this all is that my children’s behavior and its significance for me, the fact of whether they are having a good or a bad day is ultimately reflective of the kind of day I’m having.

Jesus tells a parable of the Fig Tree…In it a fig tree that has been growing for 3 years. It grows, its green, it looks healthy, and yet does not produce fruit. The Master declares it should be cut down, but the caretaker (Christ anyone?) says that he will trim it, give it better soil, and to please let it grow another year and see what then happens. The Master agrees….–Luke 13:6-9

…and that’s it…the story ends, not with whether or not the tree behaves better but the two “parents” of the tree, the caretaker and the master, Jesus and God, agreeing to give it better care. Deciding it wasn’t (entirely) the tree’s fault, and that it probably could produce it just needed more time and space to grow, and more nurturing, and trimming of its bad parts….

If I’m having a good day, the hiccups of a 1, 3 and almost 5yr old are minor and workable. If I’m having a bad day every infraction feels like a personal insult.

https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRG9g5f4tujtVpidSbLAT4Vgmwit9cw7H8qta5FVswcf7r91o3BpgIf I have the wherewithall to take a step back on the bad days then I at least don’t lash out but unfortunately, I am only human. My mom said she used to be really moody/dramatic (Re: my side of the family tends to be) and if one thing went wrong her entire day was ruined. Post-Children, if only a few things went wrong, she knew it had been a “good” day.

So there it is…the promise is that God will follow through on cutting down the bad trees (you know the importance of boundary setting and holding to consequences in parenting), but at the same time, practicing Grace….If my children aren’t bearing fruit that day, maybe I need to look at the care I’m able to give them that day (after all children tend to notice when we are stressed and respond in kind) The focus is not on the consequence but on the gift…let our parenting be the same….not only on my good days, but also on my bad ones

On the other hand on really hard days–where it isn’t about me or the children, but about the world (Newtown and Boston of course spring to mind)–then the misbehavior of small children are put into perspective, and I begin to feel blessed–blessed to be safe, blessed to have children to love, bless to have children who misbehave and are imperfect.

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

Lady Jabberwocky

Write with Heart

A Pastor's Heart

Thoughts on Life and Faith

10:00 am Worship @NCPC

Won't You Be Our Neighbor

Martha Spong

Clergy Coach

r e F o c u s

a ministry for transition

Church Set Free

Love is the answer - now what's your question?

Living Contemplatively

Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

PNEUMYTHOLOGY

ROBERT LAMBERT JONES III

A Spirit Filled Life

Seeing the Sacred in the Everyday

Improvisations

thinking outloud online

G-Free Rev

Knittin' and Preachin'

Infinite Windows

Meditations on faith and art

Mom Meets Blog

Managing motherhood, midlife and a blog