Ministry, A Prayer

Sometimes I get to preach

Or tell good stories

Or talk about God in high minded ways–with really cool words!

But the best time, God are when I sit with someone

and do ministry, by listening to stories

or holding a crying child

or trying to understand a perspective that had never occurred to me.

God thank you for reminding me

that ministry is that easy

and that hard.

And thank you, for the fact

that you have empowered

each of us, to minister

to one another

every day.

May we smile

or help

or sit

in ministry today.

Amen.

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

More Mundane Prayers for Surviving the Day to Day

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

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People Shaped Prayers

I’m tired of my prayers

Being shaped like sick children

and full emergency rooms

and humans struggling to breathe.

Debates about policies and masks and vaccines make me want to scream and rage,

and do not bring out the Jesus in me.

Lord God, I long for the dandelion seed shaped prayers,

the ones that look like shooting stars, and tiny mustard seeds.

Instead, I am here, cursing fig trees,

Screaming at the stormy waves to “Shut up”

and licking my lips to whisper when I see the rioting crowd

“forgive them Lord–how can they know not what they are doing?”

I’m tired of the shapes of these prayers that tumble from my lips–

But I do not have any other prayers to pray.

Maybe the Holy Spirit can pray some other shaped prayer for me too,

like a bonus; if she has the time.

And meantime, I’ll keep praying human shaped prayers,

at least they are a kind of prayer, I know how to pray,

so I will keep praying them. Until I know what else to do.

Amen.

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

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

A sign stating “Full capacity for COVID-19 cases” is posted at the entrance of the San Juan de Dios Educational Foundation in Pasay City on April 4, 2021, following a surge in coronavirus cases. Rappler.com

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

Back to “Normal” A Prayer

Jesus, when you were born. A political and religious refugee in the midst of a religious apocalypse, in an occupied country, with no citizenship or even personhood to be acknowledged. Brown Hebrew child born in the frailty of a human skin, did you ever long for normal?

When you scared the, excuse me, BeJesus out of your parents and taught in the Temple, did you wish that you could have been a normal boy running with your cousins where your parents could easily find you?

When you preached your first sermon and almost got thrown over a cliff, when your cousin John the Baptist was arrested and beheaded, and as you wandered around with a bunch of smelly disciples who were really great guys but who didn’t really get it. Did you worry about humanity’s obsession with being normal?

When you healed on the Sabbath–taking the withered hand into yours, touching the forbidden flesh with your flesh, ignoring the precepts of the day. Did you think, but yeah normal is overrated.

When you reached out to the Samaritan woman and banqueted with the tax collectors and enjoyed the miracle of feeding thousands of people with meager faire, is that when you thought, in your anachronistic, asychrononius way that normal is only a setting on the washing machine?

I bet that when you told the storm to shut up, when Mary bathed your feet in perfume, and when you climbed the mountain to hang out with Moses and Elijah you really embraced that your normal is counterintuitive and counterculture and anti-institution land anti-nationalism.

I bet flipping those tables felt really good, Jesus.

So here is my prayer, that we don’t go back to normal, not really. Because normal saw a lot of wrong and a lot of idols and a lot of vanities. Normal was all about the have and have-nots and racism and inequity and cis-hetereo-patriarchy was the name of the game.

I hope we know, that THAT game is already lost. Because Jesus promised, has and will always win.

And there ain’t nothing normal about that.

Thank you Jesus, for all that you are, and all that you stand for–fix our fixation on normal, and focus our eyes on you and all that you stand for: equity, sanctuary, healing and love, we pray in your mighty name Jesus.

Amen.

More Pandemic Prayers

calendar but the as the return to wholeness, health and peace in the community ‬

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. My go fund me is located at gf.me/u/y8n94m

More About Me; My Story & My Writing

Seeds of Prayer: Extended Advent Candle Liturgy (with two additional/optional candles

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

About Me: My Story & My Writing

If you would like a word copy of this document (which is probably easier to format) just email katyandtheword at gmail with the subject line advent and I will be happy to send you a copy

Promise, Thanksgiving, Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, Christ

Nov 22, 2020 Promise Candle: 

Lord God we give thanks for your covenant

We are thankful that you promise to come again

Just as God freed the Hebrews from Egypt

We remember how faithful God was to Abraham and Sarah, 

Moses and Miriam, and Hannah and Eli

Come let us know God, through God’s promises

We live into your promises, Loving God

Light the Promise Candle

God, we are thankful that every year

You fulfill your promise and become particularly present

every Sunday, every prayer, every gathering in your name,

You are there. You show your love in baptism and communion,

and you reveal your presence through advent and Christmas.

Help us to live into your promises,

every time we wait for Jesus,

we pray. Amen.

Optional Hymns: Great is Thy Faithfulness, Be Thou My Vision, God of the Sparrow, God of the Ages, Whose Almighty Hand, Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Nov 29, 2020 Thanksgiving Candle:

Lord we give thanks for your protection and gifts

Glory to be to God, who has filled the world with enough for everyone

When we are in trouble, we have God to pray to

God help us to trust in God

Let us proclaim the good news, God is abundant and gracious

We live into thanksgiving, Loving God

Light the Promise Candle

God,

As we look at all the bounties of the earth,

teach us how to give the sacrifice of praise.

For you have created us this way

so that the more we give thanks

the better human beings we are.

Help us to live into Thanksgiving,

every time we wait for Jesus,

we pray. Amen. 

Optional Hymns: For the Fruit of All Creation, Let All Things Now Living, We Gather Together, Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow

Dec 6, 2020 Hope Candle: (based on Joel 2)

Lord, even now you are calling to us

You promise the trumpet will sound, all wrongs will be right!

We will call the assembly in hope, one way or another we will connect and gather together

We are the congregation: the aged, the children, the infants. We are the people of God

God says, fear not, for I will fill you with my spirit. Live into Hope.

We live into hope, loving God.

Light the Hope Candle

Prayer: Lord, 

in the midst of suffering

and death, remind us 

that love is worth

the cost of hope. 

Teach us to 

enact the world

we hope for we pray.

Help us to live into Hope

every time we wait for Jesus, 

we pray. Amen. 

Optional Hymns: Sing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel v. 1, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence v. 1, Live Into Hope, 

Peace Candle: Peace: (based on Isaiah 61:1-4)

Lord, here is the hope!  You have sent us to proclaim the good news to the oppressed, 

We are all called to to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives 

Let us proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 

You comfort all who mourn, and give us the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. 

You promise to repair the ruins! Live into peace.

We live into Peace, Loving God!

Light the Peace Candle

Prayer: Jesus

as we see fighting

and lies and hatred.

Show us peace, 

not as a passive thing

but as the power to 

acknowledge each and

every creature’s mutual worth

Help us to live into Peace 

every time we wait for Jesus,

we pray. Amen

Optional Hymns: Sing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel v. 3, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence v. 3 Comfort, Comfort You My People or A Place at the Table, Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Dec 13, 2020 Joy Candle: (based on Luke 1:46-56 which is opt for next week)

Lord God this is the time to magnify the Lord

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant

We are called to see how God has brought down the powerful from their thrones

We need to look and acknowledge and proclaim with joy that it is God who lifts up the lowly

God’s promises are forever! This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
We live into Joy, Loving God. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit,

as we feel the stirrings of Joy

that Jesus Christ is a part of our lives.

Remind us that Jesus

came to help all people

from generation to generation.

Help us to share the Joy it is

to fill every sing person who hungers

with good things. 

Help us to live into Joy 

every time we wait for Jesus,

we pray. Amen.

Optional Hymns: O Come, O Come Emmanuel v. 2, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence v. 2, Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain

Dec 20, 2020 Love Candle: 

God, we sing glory to God in the highest, for you embody love

You take on human flesh, out of love for us

Truly, who embodies love like Jesus?

He has come to teach and to pray, to heal and to disciple, to live and to breathe with us.

Born in a manger, full of hope, peace and joy, that is our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We Live into Love, Loving God

God of Bounty,

We know that you are synonymous with love

To speak of God is to speak of love, 

and to speak of love is to speak of God.

Teach us what love really is: 

Embodying hope and peace and joy all at once. 

Help us to live into Love 

every time we wait for Jesus, 

we pray Amen. 

Optional Hymns: O Come, O Come Emmanuel v. 1 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent v. 3 and/or 4, They will Know we are Christians by Our Love

Dec 24/25, 2020 Christ Candle: 

Let our Soul magnify the Lord

We rejoice in God our savior

God is with us, from generation to generation

Look at what the Mighty One has done for us

God fills the hungry with good things, brings up the lowly, and brings done the powerful

We live into the discipleship of Jesus Christ, Loving God

Light the Christ Candle

Prayer:

Lord God, we know that Jesus is born

Born of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love,

Christ is coming, 

Touch us with your presence we pray.

Help us to live into discipleship

and to see Jesus,

we pray Amen. 

Optional Hymns: What Child is This?, The First Nowell, Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

About Me: My Story & My Writing

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

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

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

#Rain #reLENTless #slatespeak

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Love is not exclusive. Everyone can love. Even this who do not believe in God, even those who are evil, the “bad guys” that my 5 year old likes to name. Even they can love the people who love them.

Look at the dictators of the world, many of them love. But then they also hate. They hate their enemies, they burn with the need to destroy.

God says to love our enemies. Love the neighbor, love the stranger, love the enemy.

The good news is there is NO gaps in the love of God.

The bad news is, there is NO gaps in the love of God.

When we go out in the storm that is God, we all get soaked in God’s love. The righteous and the righteousness all dripping with Goddroplets.

storm_goddess_by_thoughtsthunk-d5nra7o

Image: Storm Goddess

Its a funny thing, that God is the storm, and the love is the water.

And yet, maybe that’s why we get baptized in water.

To remind us, when you go out in the storm, everyone gets soaked.

 

 

#rejectedsermontitles Really Your Thoughts and #Prayers? That’s all you got?

Context:

At the beginning of the week, and saw that the passage was about prayer. Thank God, because no matter what happens this week, I know that it will apply.

Then the African-American caretaker of an autistic man was shot……

I am the mother of an autistic child. Right now he is small and cute. When he flaps his hands giving “exclamatory hands” to excitement or frustration, its not very threatening, and if he does throw a tantrum he is still small enough that I can pick him up in a worse-case-scenario.

As the mother of an autistic child I can say, I don’t care who this police officer was aiming for, this was a terrible action.

So what am I supposed to do, pray?

What can others do for me and my son, pray for us?

Sermon:

Prayer is often used as a comforting action–but that is not its only purpose.

When you pray for someone, you are placing them in God’s hands. You are enacting love. You are opening yourself to be in relationship with them.

Whenever there is a harsh disagreement in the church congregation, session (board of leaders) or the Presbytery (our higher governing board). I will be the first to raise my hand and call for prayer.

And I’ll tell you what it is difficult to immediately stop and pray, the temptation is to continue arguing, the temptation is to prove that I am right, and that you should be listening to me!

This is exactly when prayer is needed, though, because you are trying to focus on God, to change your own individual perspective. Prayer is an act of Holy Imagination, where the world is viewed as the beginning of what God wants for us. God’s priorities and love are given voice and precedent over our own perspective. True prayer, opens oneself to actively love others, and that love is changing. That action is one in which we practice persistence to build a practice and discipline of prayer.

Time after time the most effective antidote to bigotry and prejudice is not education or knowledge. Its not about who is on the “right side of history.” Its having a relationship with someone who is different than you. Its knowing and loving a queer person or a person of color or one who is trans, female in leadership, or living in poverty.

Love is dangerous, because love changes your perspective.

Praying for someone is looking at them and loving them. Praying for another person an act of loving God, one where you recognize the other person as a child of God.

Just as Jesus looked at Martha, and then loved her, and then spoke to her last week.

So too are we called to love each other. Prayer is a discipline by which you practice seeing the world as God wants it to be, so we are more equipped and enabled to bring that world into being. Praying for one another is loving them through all the joys and hardships and struggling to find community with them, especially when we disagree.

Prayers are so much more than a comforting platitude, prayer is one of many disciplines by which we are able to get things done.

Lord teach us to pray….

 

Reject evil

when of our baptismal questions is do you denounce/reject Evil?

i always joke this is the easy one, who isn’t against evil?  But as the news of violence and hatred pile up. I wonder why it’s so hard to act against evil?

Min the Belhar Confession there is a rejection piece that condemns wrongdoing–and I find myself, over and over again, condemning the bad things that have happened.

So here’s me practicing my rejection and denounciation of evil!

I condemn senseless murder. All of it. I condemn that African-Americans are unduly targeted, I condemn that trans women of color are the most murdered and abused of our population, I condemn the ways our Latinx, Indian, Pakistani, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Native Americans (as well as countless other minorities) are silenced and erased, I condemn that people are killing police officers, I condemn small children being run over on holiday in Nice, I condemn people dying who were dancing, I condemn the violence against those who use the bathrooms who don’t look gender conforming, I condemn all efforts to divide by calling some groups racists and others anti-police. In the name of The Belhar confession I condemn any threat to unity and recognize that separation is a sin Christ has already defeated. I will continue to work towards unity and reject the sins that are prejudice, separation and bigotry.

I am done with it. No more!

I will stand behind every humans right to live, breathe, laugh and love no matter who they are. I will resist the temptation to compare and separate and will work to treat all humans like the creations of God they are!

Phew! Back the the work of living it out!