Forgiving God (A Prayer)

God, sometimes I wonder

If you stand for weak apologies,

or how you stand them at all…

The “I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt”

or the half-hearted apologies that blame…

other things like mental illness or pills or bad sleep…

or anything…

(I call these non apologies what do you call them God?)

and I also wonder…

and how you view our funding for guns and military complexes

while children are hungry in the street

How do we quickly fund war-things

and let people die of plague and hunger and homelessness

I know you are a forgiving God…

but I also wonder if we take that too much for granted

If that is why Jesus looked at Jerusalem

and cried.

But then I think of how Jesus

washed Judas’s feet,

and lovingly forewarned Peter of his

thrice, THRICE ill-timed denial.

And I think,

Only you Christ, know

that somehow,

we humans can still change.

Even when we humans

Might give up on humanity.

You don’t

Well, you and Dr. Who.

So I’ll hold onto that,

With my pinky fingers–

even when I lose grasp

and my hands no longer want to fold

in prayers

and words of forgiveness

do not come from my lips.

I’ll rely on your forgiveness,

instead of mine

and work on the pinky

finger’s worth of prayer

instead.

Amen.

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

Betrayal, a prayer for the brokenhearted

Cw: Abuse, victimization, implied sexualization

God,

One of my kids former teachers

betrayed the school,

(himself, his family, his students, and most of all his fellow teachers)

and got arrested today–

and my eldest,

with tears streaming down his face

said he couldn’t believe it.

And I had to say, I wouldn’t lie to you about this

and sometimes people make bad choices

and sometimes those people are especially nice to hide their faultiness.

And I thought about, how, almost every place I lived,

there was an adult lurking, who wasn’t safe.

Was this how it felt Jesus?

When Judas betrayed you?

Even though you knew it was coming,

surely at some point he was a true disciple,

Surely you really wanted him to be your real friend Jesus.

And so I wrapped my child in my arms, and I told him:

The bad doesn’t take away the bad one does, but the bad doesn’t take away the good either.

And that we hoped he would get the help he needed, to truly and actually change.

And I imagine that you do the same.

Wrapping us in your arms,

coaxing us towards love, and grace, and forgiveness.

Because, sometimes we feel that brokenness all too sharply.

Please be with us when we betray or are betrayed we pray.

Because Christians and leaders and mentors are not perfect,

and it’s so important to have people we can trust in our lives.

When we are brokenhearted wrap us in your arms,

and remind us of that we are loved and worthy of love, we pray.

Amen.

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

The Lion, the Witch & The Wardrobe: Susan’s Story

Susan looked at her hands, because she couldn’t talk about her siblings while seeing anyone’s face “Well you know you have to stop playing games all the time. Sometimes I wonder…but if there was such a person, then why did we survive the war just to die. Fairy Stories do not do you much good when you are sad.” She then did look up and then rested her head gently on her husband Matthew’s shoulder.

Matthew, wisely didn’t say anything, for the moment.

Meanwhile, Bobbi hugged her knees in tight to her chest under the bed, thinking fiercely about what her mother said. She thought of what it might be like to have a passel of aunts and uncles…and for the first time it occurred to her that she was also missing cousins to visit.

The wind seemed to howl through the empty house. 

Matthew hugged Susan and said, “You must be missing them a lot today.”

Susan’s voice sounded like a frog’s, “It’s this old house in the rain, it rained nonstop that summer, you know. And…Rain makes me think of bombs though heaven knows…well everyone knows we were well away from all of that”

“I know.” Matthew said, simply.

Bobbie knew then that her mother needed a hug, so she uncurled, and scooted from under the bed and slid on the bed quietly snuggling into her mother’s arms.

“it’s ok, Mama, I’m sure your brothers and sister knew that you loved them very much, and that’s all that mattered”

Strangely this made the tears seem to come down Susan’s face faster.

“How could they not know mom? After all, you tell me all the time how it was that summer, that you had each other and your stories, and the dear old professor that somehow that was enough.”

Susan gave a little hiccup sigh, and seemed to catch her breath.

Bobbie glanced a the rain outside, which was really coming down in sheets, “And I guess if on rainy days the stories aren’t enough, that makes sense too.” 

Susan then collected herself, and said, “I guess these days I’m just trying to be realistic honey.”

Bobbie thought hard about this.

Matthew squeezed Bobbie’s hand, and Bobbie felt the knot that she didn’t know was in her chest loosen. 

“I don’t see why you can’t be realistic and still not know that tea with a faun is still important. I know you told me the story isn’t probably true Mama, but….”


Bobbie’s voice changed to a whisper…”Sometimes I pretend it is, and sometimes I pretend it’s me and Mr. Tumnus and my doll is Aunt Lucy, and somehow I feel like Aslan loves me anyway, and I don’t feel near as so lonesome anymore.” Bobbie bravely tried to say all of this without looking at the empty cradle where baby Thomas had once slept. 

Susan then did the best thing ever, and she looked right at Thomas’s cradle, then at Matthew, and then at Bobbie, and swept everyone in a big hug. 

“That’s ok darling, sometimes I still pretend its all true too. And sometimes it helps me when I’m lonesome. Sometimes I think we can pretend without believing. I think it’s  funny how that works.”

And they all sat on the bed and thought about it. 

Woman at the Well

Signs of God: Jesus Meets You Where You Are

Psalm 42:1-3

John 4:1-42

Call to Worship

Come as You are

Jesus will meet you

Come all you who thirst

For God will provide you the waters of everlasting life

Call to Confession: God, I confess that sometimes I am like the woman at the well. Not knowing what it is I am thirsty for, but knowing that I am in need of more, thirsty for something. Please help me when I am lonely or unsatisfied. Provide me with that which I really need, so I am not distracted by wants or wishes, but may instead focus in on that which is really important I pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon. Jesus promises salvation to all who ask, know the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God help us to follow the ways of grace, so that we might further journey on the path that we need to take we pray in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hymns: What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, We Meet You O Christ, Help Us Accept Each Other, More Love to Thee O Christ, They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love

With Children: Talk about how Samaria and Israel were fighting siblings: Very similar but had different customs and so they wouldn’t talk to one another so it was very unusual for Jesus to talk to anyone from Samaria, much less a woman. Indicate how Jesus meets everyone where they are–by a well, up a tree, eventually on a cross. Discuss all the funny places Jesus might meet people if he was walking around today

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

This is not the character development I wanted.

Dear God,

How many people in the Bible said no to you? Jacob, the actual heel, Noah who didn’t want to get mocked, Moses who had a speech impediment

As I sit in the car as a part of my daily 3hr drop off and pick up run to avoid the bus and do what I can to limit exposure…emphasis on what I can….I am thinking that this is not the character development I wanted.

I did not, after an agonizingly and traumatically lonely Middle School experience and a long and tough climb into adulthood starting with 9/11 and then peaking with job hunting at the height of a recession, want to go in for more. I feel like I’ve done enough character development. Thanks for asking God.

I remember my Grandmother who helped every single person she met and also could not throw anything away if her life depended on it. I don’t think I realized those went together for her as a child of the depression, until now.

What am I learning right now God?!? And why oh why haven’t I learnt it already?

Probably the real question is what is it we have to learn and why haven’t we learned it yet?

God, I know we are living in the space of a grace note. I know you have already won and are going to win. And every second we have to learn is gravy

But gravy is messy! Grace is messy! And I really didn’t count on spending hours in the car and at home and on zoom relearning you’re grace.

Teach us what we need to learn about your grace, we pray.

Amen

Pandemic Prayers, Narrative Lectionary Advent Resources, Mundane Prayer Resources

Please Share/Adapt with Credit to Katy Stenta and Please Support my writing! 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

Enough for Grace

Holy Spirit, as I live and breathe I consider my requirements and hold them up against your grace.

How is it I am enough for you? On the one hand I am never enough. I have this drive to achieve and perfect. But though this drive is a part of being human, I know this is by no means your requirement.

For who is perfect but you, God?

Sometimes, when I imagine heaven, I know I get it all wrong. Picturing it like a Hall of Fame of acheivements or a place of perfection.

When, instead, you promise it to be the feast where everyone gets fed, and no one is too late to join.

Instead, you promise it to be a place where participation is valued, not perfection.

What a balm, to remember that you want each of us to participate.

There is no such thing as perfect communion. If you required perfection for communion, it would unravel–becoming a practice of the singular being a Christ.

Instead, you invite us to come, in all of our messy, fumbling, clumsy ways of love. Instead you encourage any and all to participate in whatever way we can. Jesus stands at the table with open arms, tearing the bread apart with his own hands, his eyes twinkling.

And then, God you make communion: miraculously happen, by being present!

You are there when the lips of the ill or frail touch the elements. You are there when the cup of grace is overfilled and drips and spills over. You cross the great expanses of screens and bring us into communion with one another and you even over the internet. The miracle of your promised presence each and every time we practice communion is perfection itself.

Communion is perfect.

And we are it’s participants, not its perfecters.

Lord, help us to remember you value true and honest participation over any attempt at perfection. You are perfect so we don’t have to be. You created communion so we can be a part of perfection, a part of you, together.

Only you, O God, would see perfection as something to partake in, rather than something to strive for.

In this way communion is truly a foretaste of the kingdom meal. And for that I give you thanks and praise.

Amen.

This Prayer can be used/adapted with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta 

More Mundane Prayers: for surviving the Day to Day

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”

Looking to Heaven: Eastertide

Jesus went to heaven, and the disciples would have liked to have stayed there.

Looking at the heavens.

Just like the transfiguration.

Let’s move in, we are ready for heaven.

Or at least we can spend all the time with the pure ones, the disciples, the ones in the know.

And Jesus said, don’t worry I’m going to send you to the ends of the earth, don’t worry I’m going to give you a million Easters, 2,000 years to learn; 2,000 years of grace.

Talk about a grace period for one’s debts.

Many weeks and Sunday for Easter to unfold into your hearts, and your children’s hearts and your children’s children’s children’s house.

I’m going to give you time to learn how to be community.

I’m going to leave you with my one commandment, love one another.

Stop looking at heaven, the answer isn’ there.

Look to earth, to the relationships.

Good Friday: Denial and Grace in Crises

Before this night is over Peter, you will deny me three times,

In fact each and every one of you will deny me before the end.

Not me Lord, I would never deny you.

The absolute horror of what was going to happen could not be fathomed by the disciples. It was too a deep a hole for them to see. Death, betrayal, denial and damnation were unthinkable. After all they had faith, and they had Jesus. What else would they need?

Denial is very human. It’s how we handle some of the world, it’s one way to fend off PTSD.

What are you in denial about right now? Here, in the middle of a pandemic, what is too much for you to take in?

Remember that even the disciples had trouble processing it all. Remember that only Christ and God can hold the enormity of the tragedy that is taking place. And Jesus requested the presence of these fumbling disciples in Gethsemane to pray. And after they messed up not once, not twice, but three times, but Jesus did not send them away.

We will not be sent away, and our presence is necessary.

Give yourself the grace you need to pray, be in denial and present in whatever strange combination exists within your soul, and remember you do in good company.

More Pandemic Prayers and Resources

Abundance of #Grace : Seeds of #Prayer for #Lent March 17

Laborers in the Vineyard

Abundance of Grace

Matthew 20:1-16 and Psalm 16:5-8

Call to Worship:

Lord it is good when we come to you at the beginning of the day

Whether we come at the beginning, the middle or the end you will be there. 

Lord it is good when we find you at the beginning of the week

But what a blessing when we find God, instead at the end, for still God’s hand will hold us fast.

Help us to find you, Lord!

Help us to find you today, so that we might give you praise.

Call to Worship:

Come let us worship the Lord

God shows us the path of life and invites us to join in the work of the day.

Come let us work together

So we can all share in the fruit of our labors together, with all the saints who participate, come let us do some of that work today!

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Prayer of Confession: Lord, I confess that you are my Lord,  I have no good apart from you. So I turn to you to confess my failings, so that you can fill me with your grace and love, so that you can be with me and teach me. Show me the path of life I pray.

Prayer of Confession: Lord I confess aha some days I worry if there is not enough grace for me and my sins. I so often feel so full of holes, that I do not count myself as holy enough for you. Yet, you are ever with me, with your presence there is a fullness of joy, there is enough. Remind me that there is enough, I pray.

Assurance of Pardon: Lord you are the path of life, fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore, so we can be confident of the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Assurance of Pardon: Lord, it doesn’t matter if we come to you in the beginning, the middle or the end, we are assured of your grace. In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Hymns: Amazing Grace

On Eagles Wings

Jesus, Priceless Treasure

Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me

There is a Wideness in God’s Mercy

Lord I wanna be a Christian in My Heart

 

Full List of Lenten Resources (Of course some prayers may be appropriate for other weeks)

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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