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

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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”

Procrastination as a Spiritual Practice

Lord God, I don’t know how you built us so that we will forever do one step above the hardest task before us to avoid doing that hardest thing.

But I know that cleaning the house, so I don’t have to write a difficult email…..

Or suddenly figuring out how to pitch another really important idea when I’m supposed to be working on the one in front of me is a uniquely human quirk.

Lord, I am practicing being thankful for the laundry that gets done when I’m avoiding something else.

I am thinking of the number of times I have prayed, desperately or defiantly because I don’t have the energy to do anything else at that moment.

How about you God? Do you save the most horrible tasks for the end? Did you play with judgement for a millennia before it suddenly struck you that you could delay the apocalypse by coming down to earth with/as Jesus’s humanself?

Are you breathing life into this grace period. This moment of waiting between Christ’s ascendancy and the second coming to save every last soul you can? Could procrastinating be in all of humanity’s favor?

My favorite is when I put off a task so long, that it feels too big to ever accomplish, and then I finally must, must do it and it takes mere minutes and does not in fact wound my soul.

Were you holding your breath in heaven, hoping not to have to send your only son, only to come down and realize that you love being human and 33 years is not that long to have after all?

Dear God, procrastinating is not always the best decision, but sometimes I take in the beauty that you designed us to give ourselves time to process things emotionally, that you allowed us to fill that time with more enjoyable or other important things.

And I ponder how, in the creativity of the Holy Spirit of procrastination, we are made in the image of God.

And I offer up to God my procrastinating as a form of thanks and praise.

Thank you God.

Amen.

Image found at https://clare-ofarrell.com/2018/06/01/map-of-procrastination/

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

For More Mundane Prayers: For Surviving Day to Day Life click here

Here are 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”

In This Smoosh of Time

Lord God Almighty please help me as time continues to smoosh.

Summer is ending, and yet is is also the thousandth day of March.

I’ll wake up on Monday, know that’s it’s Monday (I did do church yesterday, though now it’s different).

I’ll do my chores, maybe find fifteen minutes to exercise and then  set my kids up for their activities–and cross my fingers that they will last them awhile.

Then I will sit down at my computer to work and cram in as much productive time that I can.

Then I’ll sigh, and realize I’ve forgotten to turn in an article, or are late for my kid’s counseling or have missed someone’s zoom meeting or training.

Because my heart and soul didn’t know it was Monday. My mind knew, but my soul is in denial.

Because Monday is not that important in the grand scheme of things. And I remain in crises mode, my alarms going off for the pandemic and the injustices of the world and not for the mundanities of life.

My ADHD family and friends say this is how time works for them on most days.

It’s non-linear non-subjective; more like a wobbly wobbly time-wimey stuff. I am stuck in the ball of time stuff.

Appointments are hazy at best, and I can’t remember things from before the pandemic. Lord help me to hold onto the things I need to and let go of the things I don’t need.

And clocks are tricksy.

And the end of the day drags on and on, so long that it is hard to get anything done. Why is that?

Help me to stop doom scrolling. Remind me to take a walk, to sit in the sun, to pause to do something fun.

Help me to remember it’s Monday, as best I can. And to practice self-grace when I can’t–and when others can’t as well.

Help me to set the alarms I need.

And help me to worry less about time, and be in the moment, when I can. I pray.

Amen.

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

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

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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

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

Socially Distanced God: the struggle

Hands of God and Adam (With images) | Sistine chapel, Sistine ...

God,

I’m struggling with the socially distant God.

A God that is six feet, or more, away.

A God I can’t touch.

Jesus,

I am struggling with a masked God.

One who is hard to recognize from the crowd.

It is so hard not to see you smile.

Holy Spirit

I am so tired of the enclosed God.

Trapped with me and my house and my family and my work

Sometimes the breath of the pneuma gets stuck in my throat

Source, Word & Spirit

When we are the hands and feet of Jesus, I feel isolated from your love.

So I find myself seeking you; in the the sunsets and flowers,

In the crinkles of laughter around people’s eyes and the nods of hello

In the stillness of the moments, in the sweat of the medical teams, in the stories, all the evolving stories, of good in the world

Creator, Liberator, Comforter

Remind me of all the ways you are present.

Give me the gifts of creativity, liberty and comfort in ways I’d never ask for nor expect.

And when I feel alone, tell me that even Jesus felt alone.

Creator, Lover, Sustainer

When I am overwhelmed, please speak to me that my feelings are real and legitimate.

Help me to make space for the feelings–the loneliness, the fleeting happiness, the sadness, the anger, and the thirst for change.

Then teach me new ways to be your hands and feet I pray.

Amen.

image

 

More Pandemic Resources & Prayers

Preparing for Worship

Lord, these days preparing for worship looks different.

I no longer prep the sanctuary, or listen to the choir rehearsing, or spend moments in my office opening myself to the Holy Spirit.

I don’t look around for the people in the halls and the pews, trying to greet them all by name.

These days, I wash my hands thoroughly and solemnly put on a mask, fully aware that my signature smile is hidden.

I place the video and sound equipment around me, making sure everyone can see and hear what is going on.

I put on gloves before I hand the order of worship to anyone, and make certain there are more than six feet between myself and the musicians.

And whenever I do all of this, I think of God. I think of my hope to serve. I think of my congregation and how much I miss them.

And I feel your blessing, as these movements of 6 plus weeks, have become a ritual of love and care and preparation.

Then I take a deep breath, like I always do, in every setting, send a quick prayer up to the Holy Spirit, and begin….

Thank you God for teaching me new ways to prepare for worship. Amen.

Preparing for Worship 2 Family Edition

Pandemic Prayers & Resources