Advent Prayer

Here’s a Prayer for Advent
For those are stuck in injustice for so long
they seek justice with every breath they breathe
and long for a new kind of liberation.

Here’s a prayer for those
stuck in the throes of grief
gnarled in the pain
and cannot feel those who are holding their hands in darkness.

Here is a prayer those
sick so prologuedly, they don’t remember
what health feels like, and subsist instead
on better days.

Here’s a prayer for the lonely
whose teeth ache when they see companionship
who lurk in the corners of libraries and shops
and love to converse with strangers and angels unawares.

Here’s a prayer for the victims
of violence and abuse
from microagressions to verbal, from physical to assassination
To all those who cannot be safe because where they are or who they are.

Here’s a prayer for those who just don’t know Lord
They are just so tired and confused, and stuck
They aren’t sure where to go next or what to do
But they are certain that they need to figure out the next step.

Here’s a prayer for those on the edge of death,
you know the ones God, waiting for that next family gathering
or that last visit, or the strength to let go–
Or even Christmas to pass, in order to join the rest of the Saints.

This is a prayer for all those waiting,
Maybe what we have is not yet hope, perhaps it is hoping for hope
But that is enough to light the candle together
That is enough to wait for God together, for the miracle whispers to us.

It whispers of the one who is to come:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Purveyor of Peace
And Government will rest upon their shoulders–
God, we are holding our breath, and light the candle hoping for hope.

We are praying with the world today, O Come, O Come Emmanuel we Pray. Amen.

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

Full Advent Resources

Triggered and Grieving: Solomon’s Wisdom Prayer

CW: Sex Work, Infant Loss

God,
Solomon thinks he is wise
to trick a ruling
out of two women

He thinks he is powerful–
to Lord it over
two women
who have to sell their bodies
For money

But all I can see
Is red flags

All I can think is
how I knew this story at five or six

I maybe knew what prostitution was,
I definitely did not know what appropriation was
and how it made fostering and adoption messy..
I had some idea of what feminism meant

but I did understand grief–
and that it can get really complicated really fast

However, I knew then, and I know now that one woman
went home empty-handed

Where was the chaplain
that day God?

Where were the midwives? The healers? The other women?
This so called wisdom falls hard on my ears today God.

I find it, as my kids say, sus.
Is this about wisdom–or something else

Do the women need wisdom?
Or does Solomon need compassion

Holy Comforter, I know why you put a story of prostitution in the Bible
Its not so the King can teach the whores

God forbid

Jesus bless the sex workers
Because we should treat them
Like the human beings
No matter what
and not use any excuse to judge them

And God bless all those who mourn
Help those whose arms feel empty
Please, reach out to all those who are grieving in unhealthy and unhelpful ways.
Walk with them.

Please, remind us that you are not Solomon,
You will never slash our beloved things in half,
or send us home empty-handed

You will instead, reunite us with our sisters and friends
Restore us to our beloved
And whisper in our ears that its ok to be sad

Walk with us in our unhappiness we pray.

Amen.

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

Good Friday/Empty Saturday Prayer

Jesus
Tonight is when you
We’re so human
You experienced
Godlessness
You hit rock bottom
You died
And knew what it was to be
Abandoned, forgotten
& unloved.

Because all of these feelings
All of these experiences
Each of these realities
Are part of being human.

Jesus, you truly
Utterly
Emptied
Yourself for us
In a Friday that
Wasn’t good!

(Yet)

And Jesus
Even without you there—
You invite us
To sit in that emptiness
All of Empty Saturday.

(How do you even do that?)

Thank you
For the emptying
And the emptiness
Jesus.

Thank you for being that human.

Amen

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

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Boiling Over

God,

I see the schools

that are closing up

due to violence

and protests

and the likes–

and I’m reminded

All Behavior is Communication

All of it–You knew God, when

Helen Keller was throwing a tantrum

when Elijah was crying out

when Moses said

don’t call me

when the disciples

woke Jesus in the midst of the storm

terrified…

All behavior is communication.

So, God I’m wondering

as we start to boil over,

what are we trying

to communicate?

As we are forced

to work

and school

and carry on

in the middle of a storm

as though everything is normal

and haven’t even paused to grieve.

Help us–not to behave,

God no.

But to communicate,

because clearly we are crying out,

and boiling over.

Help us, we pray.

Amen.

Please feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

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.

Comfort My People, A Prayer for Celebrating Christmas This Year

We don’t know how we are going to get through this season,

They sat through my office and said,

And their pain sat visceral in the room.

And I nodded along and prayed that they could find places

where their grief could be invited along with them and given a place at the table.

God, this is a prayer that Christmas can be more of a season of comfort

for those who need it.

I sat in the cards shop the other day,

and could not find one card

that expressed the comfort that I wanted to say during this season

of pandemic-Christmas tide. And I think, God

of what it exactly it was that the shepherds,

and the (actually unnumbered) Magi

and John the Baptist and Mary were looking for on that dark night.

The tidings were Good News of Great Joy yes,

but also, I think, it was comfort that they hungered for

Wasn’t that the fulfillment proclaimed in the Magnificat?

Wasn’t that the first title given to Jesus in Isaiah?

Not mighty* or everlasting father! No!

The first thing named for the Savior to come Counselor! Comforter, and a Wonderful one at that.

Because Lord knows this advent we are black with mourning and grief.

There is no comfort candle on the advent wreath (at least not traditionally)

But that’s who you are, Holy Spirit, Comforter.

And Lord knows we need comfort!

God, may we let this season be one not just of Joy or Hope–

if we aren’t feeling those things, let that be ok.

Help us to make this, for those who need it,

be a season of Comfort.

Help us to create a Season of Comfort, for the lonely, the lost, the grieving, I pray.

Comfort your people. Please God, because you know, we sure do need it.

And maybe next year, we will add a comfort candle to the wreath–

Til then, comfort your people we pray.

Amen.

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

Thanks to @byAndriaIrwin for the inspirational tweet

*note that the Hebrew word for this actually translates as God of many mounds, which means God of many worships spots (powerful/accessible) and God of many breasts/nourishing places. We have later shorthanded it as mighty.

Grief

Dearest God,

Who loved us into being. I have the sad today. It is lingering on all the things I touch. As I wake my kids up, I miss putting them on the schoolbus and the few moments breath between home and work as I travel in.

I miss stopping for tea-coffee for some- as a pick me up.

I miss seeing my friends.

I miss alone time, truly alone, with no one in the house.

I also miss hugging others. How can I miss both at the same time? Only you know Lord.

I miss funerals.

I miss all the kids I’ll see grow: at church, nursery school, elementary school, at the college, and ALL the babies at playgroup!

Jesus who missed sitting by Lazarus when he died, who wept openly when his mother had to leave him to die alone.

I miss not having to wear an itchy mask that fogs up my glasses every time I go out.

I miss touching my face.

I miss not worrying if every small business, theater and church is going to be open next year.

I miss the therapies for my kids. I miss anyone taking over for the kids for an hour or two, I miss babysitting.

I miss talking on the phone for fun. I miss real meetings (Who thought I’d say that?)

I miss sitting in church, and singing and praying together.

I miss my sister coming out for Easter. She already missed last year, to miss two in a year feels a cruel trick.

Jesus what did you miss those three days in the tomb? The friends, the family, the touch. Did you miss the purposeful meaning-making of work? Did you miss your favorite food? Did you miss the beautiful lakes you frequented? Did you have a plan you had to cancel the morning of the last supper, when you realized the arrest was coming that very day? Did you miss a child’s first step or word? A niece or a nephew you had been waiting on?

I wonder if Jesus misses the very  crowds that annoyed him now that he has ascended into heaven?

Grief is the slow journey of realization: That my middle child will never go back to elementary school he will suddenly move to fifth grader, my eldest will never be Peter Pan in Shrek, that my youngest will never get to see his brand new friends–who he just made this year–in school until after summer.

I’m grieving the small overnight trips I was going to make: for business and to see friends, I love traveling.

I’m grieving all the misses and the can’ts: the events, the peoples, the milestones, the simple moments.

I’m grieving not being able to go to the library and pick out a free book, pick up an art supply or even my favorite pasta from the grocery store (shell noodles).

It’s all, every single bit of it, real.

There is no piece of grief too small for Christ. Each one appears in my path, threatening to derail my journey–whether it’s a mountain in the way or a pebble in  my shoe.

Lord, help me journey through my crumbs and mountains of grief I pray.

I lift my eyes to the hills of my grief, from whom shall my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, my God.

Help me I pray.

Amen.

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