Communion Tastes Different Now

God, I have had many times when I realized I didn’t really know anything.

All the things I knew how to do have changed.

From going for a walk to grocery shopping.

And, so, Communion tastes different.

Do we even know how the economy works? I doubt anyone knows anymore.

Money and power become nonsensical, time itself has changed.

When I see two or three year olds wear a mask, without blinking, for three hours of nursery school.

I realize that they are the only ones who will know how the world works right now. Because they are growing into it.

Meanwhile ancient schemes are being broken

And the Holy Spirit is here, whispering new words on the wind.

And because I have changed, and I’m a part of communion, communion tastes differently now. The kingdom tastes different.

Because everything is being made new.

The whole world is indeed laboring in birth, and I am praying that somehow, all things are working together for good.

The thing about labor is, you don’t know what you’re doing

Parts of you die and parts of your body make room for the new thing, and parts of your body are never the same again.

It’s messy and bloody and it hurts like hell.

And when you are handed the child, whew.

You really realize that you really don’t know anything.

Mothering, swaddling God, tell us it’s ok if communion tastes different, it’s still communion.

Lord, teach us how to handle this new reality that is being birthed, I pray.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt credit Pastor Katy Stenta

Here is the Link for Pandemic Prayers and Resources: Top Posts are “In an Abundance of Caution” “The Lord is My Shepherd: What kind of Sheep are You” and “Masks: A Prayer”

The Moment for a Psalm

The rain falls on the just and unjust | Hercules and the umpire.

 

I used to know how things worked, but I don’t anymore.

I guess, this is the moment you write a psalm.

A prayer that cries out to God, for all the injustices in the world.

The missed vacations, friends and fun.

The skipped memories, rituals and milestones.

My God, why does life work this way? Why can I look at a cheaper mortgage when others can’t pay the rent?

How is it I’m in the position of privilege, when we almost didn’t make it out of the last recession?

Lord I used to know how things went, we worked, the kids went to school, we tried to find time for socialization.

Now I discover the hidden histories that were in plain sight all along. I finally understand the racism that I’ve been trying to see for the last ten years.

Suddenly I’m understanding the economics of pastoral care and relationship.

Lord I am surrounded by fear and illness. My enemies spread discord and lies, and care nothing for the vulnerable.

I guess I’m writing this psalm, because psalms don’t resolve anything.

They just affirm that our God is the one who cares for every single person, our God does not even let a sparrow or a sparrow’s feather to drop without God’s knowledge.

They reflect that God is….somewhere…. shining through the cracks–showing us opportunities to be helpers, reminding us that when we are lucky: we need to care.

So here is my Psalm God, my crying out of obscenities at the injustices of the world, and my shaking of the fist at all those with hardened hearts.

Let every person have enough to eat, give every person a mask and the opportunity to stay safe, help us to stop being stupid.

Remind us to be as consistent as we can (something humans suck at) as we try to fight this pandemic. As it rips of the bandaids that we have put over racism, inequality, poverty, education and childcare and housing, help us to see the world as it is.

God, we are wounded and bleeding. Hear our cry.

We are begging for you God, to do your work. Please love all of your children, because some days that best I can do is get out of bed, shower, call someone and not sink back into depression.

Love doesn’t make the list as often as I wish, and thankfulness is not as dominant as I’d like. Heal me, save me I pray. Heal us, save us we pray.

I used to know how things worked, but I don’t anymore. So here is my Psalm.

Lord we used to know how things worked, but we don’t anymore, so here is our Psalm

Lord in your mercy.

Hear our Prayer.

Amen

Feel free to use as needed credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Decision Fatigue

Lord God Almighty, Can’t you just make the decision for me?

COVID Risk Chart

Image xkcd comic

In a time when every single decision seems to carry weight. Do we go to the grocery store, or do take out? Am I appropriately spaced from the person nearby? Do I go to bed or spend 5 more minutes on this moment of free time?

Reopening sucks. Are we even reopening? How much can we reopen? Should we even try when we know that it’s still not safe?

Lord, decision making is not safe right now.

Do I send my kids to some kind of camp or school? Do I accede to digital learning, should i just homeschool (please God let the answer not be that I should be homeschooling, because i just can’t)

Lord, usually we make decisions in a split second, in a culture where immediacy is the primary value–I valued the swiftness over the efficacy.

God, Lord, Jesus, Holy Ghost. How do you–with three people make any decisions.

Do you have any hints for me?

Can you just make the decision for me? No?……

Well then, help me to weigh, to quiet my voice enough to give some room for yours–

Help me to make the best decision I can in the moment, remind me that nothing has to be written in stone.

Help me to make the right risky decisions: About who to help, who to be in relationship with, how to donate & protest in all the needful ways.

Give me the strength I need face the things I have to continue to say no to…give me the support I need to carry on in the midst of it all.

and

Grant me your grace, as I make the hard decisions I pray.

And please help every single human who is making all of the decisions. Kyrie Elesion.

Send your Holy Spirit, nudge us (or shove us) in the right direction, build consensus, Soften the hard-hearted so they can hear the facts they need to make the right decisions.

In Jesus Holy Name, please hear our prayer

Amen

Stuck on Repeat

God, I do not want to play this game again. I have discovered this is the exact reason I do not, personally, find video games enjoyable. To play the same thing repeatedly until it’s beaten is disheartening.

But then I remember what I tell my children. We are not video game characters, remote controlled by God. We have free will.

And you are a God of grace, letting us try multiple times to get it right. Putting us back at the beginning of our journey–to fix the pandemic, to become antiracist, to help those in need–over and over again.

When we get stuck like a broken record (remember those?) you remind us, miraculously, that we can move the needle.

image

The end to this pandemic is compassion.

In a time when love looks like giving masks to one another. In a time when money can be collected for rent. In a time when thousands suddenly have the time and emotional energy to march for Black Lives Matter. In a time when we can look at our budgets and see where our health and school funds lay in the priorities, you remind us; we are empowered to change things–together.

Lord, walk with me, walk with us. When we stumble and trip help us to have compassion for one another. Let masks flow like floods. When teachers and parents come together to make tough decisions; let our love overpower any stinginess.

When we are stuck in groundhog day, teach us that living our your compassion is more important than ever.

Help us to defeat the challenges, and to remember that we are playing on the team. And when we feel overwhelmed, help us to rest, to cry and then to get back up and do it all again.

Hold these prayers in the palm of your hand we pray.

Amen.

 

****
Feel free to use or adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Safety Guidelines

Basic Safety Requirements: This is not an exhaustive list and is subject to change in accordance to CDC and Governor Cuomo’s instructions

You will keep a log of every single individual who is attending and keep track of it should contact tracing need to be conducted

Practice Social Distancing of 6 feet or more

Wear a face covering the nose & mouth when within the building: except children younger than 2

Practice frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing 

If seated, keep tables 6ft apart and cluster households

Bathrooms: Wear your mask in the bathroom & only have one person (or one household) within a bathroom at a time. Bathrooms will now be genderless.

Practice Ventilation: Keep Doors and Windows open as much as possible

Do not pass any items: Pre-lay items or have them dropped in a stationary object 

If food is offered consider prepackaged, avoid buffets or family-style meals

If someone from your gathering tests Positive for COVID19 within 2 weeks, let the church office know

You hold liability of fines, etc. for any and/all people not following guidelines

Any individuals who are ill or sick should not attend, consider taking temperatures upon entry

Consider carefully about using Air Conditioner as it is tied to increased risk

Recommendation against singing of any kind, unless you are having a drive in gathering

You are required hand sanitizer in your space & have cleaning supplies on hand to clean chairs & tables after use

You are recommended to have a safety plan

You are recommended to check in with your insurance about any considerations for reopening

You are responsible to follow regulations and guidelines laid out by the CDC at cdc.gov

 

Drive In Safety Guidelines

No bathrooms are available during the drive-in

Cars will park every other space

Leadership will keep 6+ feet apart, and will wear masks & Gloves if approaching any car.

You will keep a log of every single individual who is attending and keep track of it should contact tracing need to be conducted

Hand Sanitizer will be available for leadership

Events will close by 8pm

Noise will not be too loud for the neighborhood

You are responsible for any violations/tickets/citations by any member of your group

Those in cars will wear masks when approached by leadership

If sitting in lawn chairs, people will wear masks at all time

You are responsible to follow regulations and guidelines laid out by the CDC at cdc.gov

If someone from your gathering tests Positive for COVID19 within 2 weeks, let the church office know

Hold Harmless: Lessee covenants at all times save the lessor harmless from all loss, cost or damages which may occur or be claimed with respect to any person or persons, corporations, property or chattels in or about the premises or to the property itself, resulting from any act done or mission by or through the lessee or resulting from the lessee’s use, non-use, or possession of or conduct of it’s business in or about the premises, together with any and all loss, cost, liability or expense resulting therefrom.”

Psalm 73 for today: Plea of Relief from Oppressors

1 Truly God is good to all those who are seeking love

2 But I will admit, sometimes  I have tripped on my journey, I’ve almost fallen off the path more than once not understanding the cry Black Lives Matter.

3 For I have seen the siren call of white privilege, I saw how those in power prosper calling themselves “great.” I have forgotten that i too benefit from a racist system.

4 Those White Supremacists admit no pain, ever, they have doctors and massages and rest. They can completely ignore the pandemic that ravages the communities of color.

5 They are not troubled by other people. They go around unmasked, breathing on everyone. For they do not have to deal with, what I have to deal with. They can ignore the pain of the world.

6. They decorate themselves with pride being “the greatest.” They dress themselves in a fine suit of violence. Making it seem beautiful.

7. Their eyes bulge with their privilege, their hearts allow them to speak feelings as facts.

8 They scoff and speak with malice and threats to all who disagree. Loftily & carelessesly they threaten oppression, so normal is it for them.

9They set their mouths against God, and their tongues spread the disease and oppression all of the earth.

10 People turn and praise them, and cannot (no matter what) find fault with them.

11 They say “God won’t know” or “Truly power and Jesus are on the same side; MAGA”

12 Such are the wicked, comfortable with evil, as they increase their riches from a pandemic, poverty and racism.

13. I have tried to keep my heart clean: but bigotry is insidious. I try to wash my hands from the pandemic, but I must expose myself to others.

14 We small people are plagued, punished everyday by our context.

15 But if I say “all lives matter” or “church is more important than flattening the curve” I would have been untrue to the circle of your children.

16 But when I thought about how to understand what is going on. I immediately become overwhelmed.

17 then I put my sanctuary in God, instead. It is then I see how they will end.

18 You are setting them in slippery places of lies of their own making. You will make them fall to ruin.

19 They will be destroyed in a  moment, swept away utterly by errors.

20 They will be like a dream when one awakes–a footnote in the history of God’s love–and upon awaking you despise their phantoms

21 When my soul we bitter, before I understand, you pricked my heard

22 I was stupid and ignorant, with microaggressions and resting on my privilege that we will never experience a pandemic, or tyranny, or widespread racism, or riots

23 Luckily, you continue to be with me, and you hold my hand as I walk

24 You guide me with your Holy Spirit, and after you will welcome me home with open arms

25 Why do I desire heaven? For you God. There is nothing I desire more than Jesus.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is my strength of  my heart, and claims me as God’s own.

27 Indeed those who are far from you will perish, you put an end to all that is false.

28 But for me, it is good to be near my God; I have made the Lord God my refuge.

And I will not fear to seek justice and tell of your works.

 

 

Feel free to use or Adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

A Prayer for the Protestors

Black Lives Matter

 

Pandemic Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Lord God Almighty, I am on my knees, with my arms outstretched to you, because I am in need of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit

I need encouragement as a parent of a child who has been faking their online schooling for the last two weeks.

Patience as I wait for more information, so that my job can make the next decision about how we are running things this week.

Courage as I realize that every single person has their own idea about what is and isn’t safe and we have to navigate relationships together.

Inspiration as I try to figure out how to connect with the people in my lives in new and not discouraging/draining ways.

Hope as death after death, sick after sick case comes in and the solution seems no closer than it was two months ago.

Breath as I am working too many hours of too many days and don’t know when it’s all going to end.

Love as all of my imperfections have been laid bare in this time where self-examination is unavoidable and all the things I’m carrying have been stuck in quarantine with me.

Lord remind me that I am more than my job or my role in my family or my material worth.

Lord, remind me that I am God-breathed, gifted by the Holy Spirit, and sibling of Jesus Christ.

In this time of crises–when every way I function is under a microscope and every emotion I am having is magnified–allow me to full discern and differentiate myself as a child of God.

And even if these aren’t exactly the things I need, and I am too mired to know what it is I really need.

Please grant me the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I pray.

And if I can’t pray to the Holy Spirit, help me to breathe:

in

out

and in

and out again

until the Holy Spirit prays me, instead.

In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

this-is-fine.0

Meme found here by KC Green

More Mundane Prayers Here, Here is the Link for Pandemic Prayers and Resources

Please Share/Adapt with Credit to Katy Stenta and Please contribute to my Doctorate of Ministry with a Donation  I have PayPal https://paypal.me/KatyStenta?locale.x=en_US Venmo www.venmo.com/Katy-Stenta or Google Pay to Katyandtheword at gmail

Restlessness

Lord God,

I am restless.

Trapped & yet without a chance to rest.

My brain thinks through a millions scenarios a minute.

I have a thousand unsaid conversations on my tongue.

Lord you know.

You know, how the Holy Spirit moves through us.

Moving through us to do something, and moving through us to rest.

Lord, when I read Psalm 23 to myself, I forget that there is a journey to the still waters.

Here I am, walking through the Valley of the Shadow of death. Feeling evil’s breath on my shoulder.

I feel it in the threat of violence when you ask someone to keep social distance or wear a mask. I feel it when in the hordes of conspiracies that come out to play with our minds.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

I shall fear no evil.

In the midst of my restless–they staff and thy rod shall comfort me: for they are the weapons of truth & trust.

I will work with the truth, I will trust on my neighbors. I will work on my own truth, and I will develop my own trust with transparency and compassion.

Lord I am restless.

Driven onward, because the time for rest has not yet arrived.

Stir me in the right way, so that I might find rest, I pray.

Amen.

 

1 Corinthians 13: Apocalyptic Thinking

1 Cor. 13:1-3

(Mark 12:28-31)

Resources, Commentaries and Prayers by Rev. Dr. Barbara Hedges-Goettl

Rewritten 1st Corinthians 13 in light of today & pandemic

If I speak with all of the authority & power in the world, but have not love,

My voice becomes blurred and untrustworthy.

If I can move mountains, changing laws, changing history, changing minds, and have not love–my work becomes meaningless

If I proclaim victory: that we are “great” the “best” the “most” and talk about all I have done for my family and my country, but have not love. I in actuality, have gained absolutely nothing.

Love: does it’s best to wait til after the danger of disease has passed to hug a loved one.

Love does not compare leaders, all of whom are doing the best they can to keep people safe.

It does not gut medicare and ignore the vulnerable and the elderly in the nursing homes as it boasts that it is doing everything possible to save lives

It is not racist or bigoted, It is not ignorant or panic-inducing.

Love is not irritable or resentful–it wears a mask out of love, and pays the essential workers more, and understands how reliant we are on one another for survival.

Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, it does not ignore the racial discrepencies in illness, treatment or quarantine enforcement.

Love rejoices in the truth, even when it is hard.

For it is through love we bear all things even in sickness and death, it believes all things even in joblessness and loneliness, hopes all things: even as singing is silenced the hope for the opportunity to sing again persists.

Love can endure all things.

Even when we can’t believe it especially, when we can’t believe it.

Love endures all things

Love never ends: As for prophecies: promises of the future beauty & success: it comes to the end.

Tongues: chattering gossip and lies–they too will cease.

Even knowledge: will come to an end as humans are limited and to think we know more than a grain of how the world works is hubris.

For we only know bits: facts & science serve as only the beginning, and we can foresee some other bits: arts and gospel serve to extend our knowledge beyond our own sphere and experience.

But, when the complete comes, the partial will end. God will give all knowledge to everybody. And it is up to us if we experience that knowledge as judgement or grace.

For I am but a child of God, speaking and reasoning like a child: babbling the bits of love I understand to God and other humans.

When I fully mature: when I join God, I will put away childish ways: jealousies, regrets, conspiracies, imposter syndromes, competitions and internalized bigotries and self-hate will fade into the foolishness they are.

Now, I can barely glimpse God and love: sometimes I feel it when I briefly glimpse myself in the mirror and can actually affirm, for a moment, that I am God’s beloved.

Someday I will see love, God, each other: face to face.

Now I acknowledge that even in the best of time, I can only know things in part.

Someday I will know fully, just as I am already full known by God.

Someday I will fully know myself, and I will be fully  known by others, and acknowledged as belonging–not a piece or part of me, but all of me, as a created beloved piece of God’s love.

And as Faith, Hope and Love abide today.

Someday there will be no need for faith and hope.

So fully will we be bathed and punctuated by Love.

Feel free to use for sermon/worship/prayer with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta image

 

 

Virtual Communion Resources

Pandemic Resources

Eastertide Narrative Lectionary Resources