Bible full of Nobodies

God, in your might and power you gave us a book that tells us truth through a bunch of nobodies.

When you tell the story of Hagar, Shiphrah & Puah, the Sultan’s daughter, Miriam and Zipporah you tell us about the “little people” in the world. We don’t even know the name of the Pharaoh’s daughter!

When you reveal the energy, intelligence, imagination and love of Ruth & Naomi and also Esther you report the profound sacredness of the lives of women of color.

“Black Lives are Sacred” attributed to Dr Wil Gafney

Because of these women we stand in prayer every single time we tell the story of persecuted black women, women of color and trans women who are black or brown.

And because women throughout the Bible are unnamed we know, we know the importance of #sayhername.

Breonna Taylor we say your name Oluwatoyin Sakai, Atatiana Jefferson, Latasha Harlins and Sandra Bland we say your name and pray.

And because we know there are even more women who are unnamed victims of police violence, healthcare violence, sexual violence and state violence perpetrated through powerfully neglectful pandemic policy.

The true nobodies in the Bible are those in power kings, pharaohs and religious leaders serve as footnotes to the real everyday lives of the “ordinary” somebodies in the Bible.

As these stories and names echo in my head in between distance learning and working and running errands, help me to take these echoes seriously.

Help me to take each and every echo, and to find the ways to tell these stories to my children, just like the stories in the Bible.

Help me to tell the story meaningfully, fleshing out my black and brown sisters and humans who are fully of life and value. Help me to tell the stories in such a way that they matter.

And empower me to see and stop racism and violence in all of its physical, emotional and political forms, I pray. Make me an interrupter of violence.

I pray this in the presence of the brown, persecuted, imprisoned and murdered man who I am honored to be an adopted sister of, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

Stealing Time

God, remind me to steal some time.

To look at the clouds

to be bored

to take the scenic route…

Tell me how it is ok if the house is messier than I’d like, that it’s good to claim the smaller victories of keeping everyone fed and (at least starting out) in clean clothes…

Remind me that Jesus stole time all the time!

Napping in the storm, snuggling a fig tree, sneaking off to a lake

When you lead me beside the (sort of) still waters of a small lake beach on a stolen afternoon, help me to embrace the experience.

When the power or internet is out and I’m forced to relax…

If the best I can muster in thought is half written sentences…

When time is given, as a gift, remind me that it isn’t stolen.

Remind me that Holy Spirit herself might be intervening.

Whisper to me that I am beloved. And that my worth is not based upon my productivity.

Image: Your Work is Not Measured by your Productivity

I’ll never forget my first year in full time ministry when there was a snowstorm every single Wednesday of November, forcing me to slowdown.

Sometimes, I need that reminder God.

And if I need to take the longer way to Jerusalem, if I need to mull and mutter and forge out some time to relax before I do the next hard thing, that is okay.

Remind me, God, that you built me, and all humans to be this way.

And that Jesus knew full well that breaks for food, laughter with friends, and time with family are essential to our humanity, and Jesus was indeed fully human.

Rest is essential, Sabbath is commanded, time is precious–let me live these truths in whatever way I can, I pray.

Amen

Image of Tweet Robin Thede: We all need to expect about forty percent less productivity from each other than normal and yet somehow everyone seems to expect one hundred and forty percent right now. Working at Proffitting WAP: Chile, they are thinking because we are working reotely that we do not nothing but time since we are sitting at home. However that push for productive is affecting our mental health because there’s no boundaries to decompress

Many thanks to the continuing inspiration of the Nap Ministry: https://thenapministry.wordpress.com/ (who you can also follow on twitter)

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

More 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”

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.

 

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

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Pandemic Mother’s Day Prayer: Another Kind of Mother’s Day

Another Kind of Mother’s Day

Dear God we pray for all the mother’s today.

For this is a mother’s day just like every other, yet more pronounced.

For every single one that can’t safely see their children.

For the essential working mom, who is trying to do everything, we pray that they are able to receive some care themselves.

For the mothers who are ill, we pray for peace.

For the mothers who are given the duties of motherhood–the stepmothers, Godmothers, grandmother’s, adopted mother’s, aunties, mentor-mothers and the single fathers in the world,  we pray that all of their work shines in their beloved children.

For the lonely mothers, we pray that they can receive moments of connection.

For the mothers who are stuck with their children at home, when it seems they should be launched into the world, we pray that you are able to be not just “mom” but your full differentiated self.

For the estranged families on this day, we pray that they can maintain safe boundaries and celebrate with their found families.

For the mothers who are pregnant–probably equal parts mixed excited and scared to be bringing a baby into the world–we pray they feel strong roots beneath them to carry on.

For the mothers who are caretaking–similar to how they always do, yet having to absorb all of the changes and be a buffer for their charges–we pray that your work is appreciated.

For the single mothers who are doing more by themselves than ever, we pray that you can receive support.

For all the mothers who feel overwhelmed, inadequate or stressed, we pray that you receive love.

On this just another mother’s day where everything is the same, but different, we pray for all the mothers, sons and daughters, for all the families  Close together or far apart, let us hold each and every kind of mother in prayer today.

Reminding each of member of the family that we are each a child of God, and that God longs to hug us under her wings–caring for us, feeding us and sheltering us like a Mother Hen cares for her brood. We pray for this God to shelter us in her loving arms this particular Mother’s Day through the power of the Holy Spirit we pray. Amen.

 

Feel free to use with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Love One Another: Gospel Work

How can I tell you about the value of caring for one another?

You aren’t creating anything that can be sold, when you go to take care of a human being. There’s no plastic product or multiplying dividend. After all (mostly) we can’t buy and sell people–becuase when we do, the abuse is horrendous. To take care of someone, is in fact the counter of making money off of them.

I read that the more you chose to take care of the people who work for you, the less money you are going to make, because it takes time and money to take care of people and the rewards are not quantifiable in market terms.

It’s also hard work to take care of people. The babies, the elderly, the sick, the disabled need help because they are the least capable among us. We are taking care of them because they are worthy, and it does not matter if they can produce anything.

Our value is not defined by our productivity.

Our value is not defined by our productivity, but to take care of someone is a lot of work–the cleaning, the bathing, the feeding, the lifting, the entertaining, the shepherding. And yet, we pay those who take care of people, from the personal assistants to the home care attendants to the nurses to the childcare workers, the least amount of money, because after all they can’t produce anything.

Even in church the Associate Pastor or the the Christian Ed Coordinator has the least amount of pay and the least amount of power in the church.

We don’t value caring for one another much.

And yet, and yet Christ said love one another. Christ’s primary and often repeated and initiated commandment was to serve one another. Love and serve together seems a lot like caring for one another. Christ who found Zaccheus in the tree, talked to the lonesome woman at the well, who embraced an individual even as he was hanging on the cross itself, never wasted time on productivity.

Jesus wasted all of his time caring for the least of these. He welcomed the children who didn’t even count as people yet, he helped the widows who were a burden on society to be noticed, he took extra care to touch and  heal the sick and the disabled who were outcast from society, and he always had time for the poor who society deemed invisible.

Jesus’s work brought in no money, he told his disciples not to fuss about what they had and didn’t have, and to just go and do the work that needed to be done. He told them not to worry too much about how they looked or sounded, but to love and care for each other, no matter what the cost and sacrifice meant for them.

In the Gospel world, the work of caring is the most essential–because it is the most essential. Making sure everyone has food and shelter and clothing and community are the essentials of love. Jesus knew that to feel love, first one had to have the essentials, and then love follows.

Tell the Good News! Jesus commands, be witnesses, tell the truth of it. We are supposed to love each other so much, we are willing to die ourselves then let anyone feel left out.

God loves you.

Exactly as you are.

God does not demand perfection or taken or productivity.

You are a child a God, you are beloved, you are a part of the family–no ifs, ands or buts.

You belong.

Show one another how you value each other.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

It’s that simple and that hard.

Jesus taught us the value of caring for one another. Lord hear our prayer, help us to get through this pandemic through love and care. We pray this n the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Detailed Famous Maslow Pyramid Describing All Essential Needs ...

Preparing for Worship 2

Preparing the family doesn’t look the same. I no longer have to dress my kids up–which ironically they love to be dressed up because it elicits so much positive attention. We can go to church in our pajamas now.

Instead of the Panera bribe, I mean stop, we make every Sunday like clockwork for the last 6 plus years (before that we hadn’t committed but still went out for breakfast), we eat piecemeal at home. Now I just buy the ultra sweet supermarket muffins and make some chai pods for the morning. We may even still be eating them during worship.

Instead of hauling all of the kids to the car, usually one is still half asleep and the other two are bickering, we bicker at home and argue over whether or not we can use electronics before church (no)

During worship, attention is scarce, wiggling is paramount, and we try to get my eldest to be responsive. The music is also just not the same. We miss singing together with the booming organ overwhelming our flubs.

But, it’s still time for Dad and the boys to sit together. It’s still the time we are a family. I’m still “leading” up front and the boys are watching/listening/imagining/being bored.

Lord help us to practice worship as a family in whatever way we can, we pray. Amen

Preparing for Worship 1 

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Body of Christ

Indeed the Body of Christ consists not of one member but of many members.

The doctors cannot say to the retail workers: You are not necessary. For one feeds the body and the other mends it.

Neither can the CEO’s say to the custodians and trash workers: I have no need of you. For one hand must wash the other.

And we are all the body of Christ.

We cannot say to one another: “it’s ok for this part of the body to become sick and die.”

We cannot chop off any part of our body, because every single part is important.

We cannot tell the teachers and childcare workers that we do not pay you well, because your work is not essential for they tend the seeds of life.

We cannot ignore the truck drivers & postal workers, for they are the circulatory system.

The government cannot say to the immigrants, you are not a part of us: for they stitch society together and gather the nourishment that we need and innovate life itself.

The protestors cannot say to the nurses, your work does not matter. And that your needs are less important than my needs.

The members that we pay the least and ignore the most, are the bones of the body.

Those who we honor and decorate the most, are the least use in a crises.

God has arranged the body, blessing it extravagantly. Inspiring us to work together. For if one part of the body suffers, we all suffer together with it.

If one member is healed and this free to live, then rest is healed: and then freed, with them.

We are of one body, my existence is wrapped up in yours. Let us continue to be the body of Christ, I pray.

Amen.

 

 

Pandemic Resources

Eastertide Resources

Standing in the Breach

Lord, I am not the beggar with a disability waiting at the gate of the church. But I understand their plight better this year. As I stand in the breach of church–trying to hold open the bridge between the world and worship. As we collect money for food pantries, and try to find ways for communities to meet and pray. I feel like we too are stuck at the gate of the temple.

Sometimes we are outside the temple, begging to get in, yet unable to pray.

Sometimes we are at the gates of heaven, barely breathing in and out.

Sometimes we are waiting by the side of someone who is on the cusp of death.

Lord, the breaches are gaping right now: the gap between rich and poor, healthy and sick, abled and disabled, the privileged and the marginal, essential and nonessential, the black and the white and the rest of the people of color.

Help us to be the disciples at the breach, fixing our eyes upon them, seeing not just their stated wants but also their deeper needs. Help us to to touch those who are stuck, and to take their hand and walk with them in the community. Even if that touch and walk is only metaphorical today.

Lord we know what it’s like to be in the breach.

Show us how to be the helpers, the healers, we pray.

Remind us that no help is too little, that we are longing for one another’s company, touch and presence.

Help us to be present and stand in the breach, we pray.

Amen.

Eastertide Resources

Say Nothing Easter

Here we are Jesus, at our say nothing Easter.

And the truth is, I really don’t know what to say. An angel told us you’re alive, but what does that really mean?

Your angels are frightening God, full of life & death; we cannot fully understand who or what they are. We are blinded by the angels eyes, and need some holy shade to think. And we are not exactly filled with hope.

Where is Jesus? He promised to return, but here we are and Mark leaves us with a rolled back stone, one angel and bunch of women. Who would believe what they had to say anyway?

Would Peter and the disciples really hear what needed to be done?

This is a say nothing Easter, where we are alone with ourselves and think, what can we say.

What will you say?

More Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Holy Saturday

Why is it called Holy Saturday?

 

I know many people pass the time on Holy Saturday by holding a vigil and reading through scripture.

But the truth is, when the disciples where waiting on Saturday, they were doing nothing. Holed up in their house they were hiding from the Empire.

They were awaiting their own death. Probably wondering out loud why Jesus had to die, wondering why he had to die a heretic, laid upon a cross that meant your were destined for hell.

It was a room that smelled of fear and death. It was a place where the disciples took cold comfort with one another, no doubt trying to ignore Peter’s pleas that he didn’t meant to deny Jesus. No doubt wondering if they were supposed to steal the body.

Women were sent. They were thought to be harmless. Women prepared Jesus for the tomb with the wrappings and the spices to hide the bad smell. They moved him to the cavern in the garden, where the guards watched to make certain no mischief was done. They were the worthless, but essential workers of the day.

We are in a sort of Holy Saturday ourselves, waiting for the word for the all clear. Hearing stories of who has died, and the suffering they have undergone.

We are experiencing the interminable wait, the timeframe is unknown, the hope is thin, and the loneliness is impenetrable.

Families are worried and separated from one another. And the world is slowly falling apart. And the world is a dark and scary place.

We can see the cornerstones of our lives being deconstructed. The things we depend upon are changing: the routines are gone, the securities are unreliable: school, work, church are crumbling.

Holy Saturday is what happens under the waters of baptism, I wonder if that’s what happens when you say goodbye to a loved one who has died who you can no longer see on earth. I wonder if Holy Saturday is where we are as we wait for the second coming of Christ.

Holy Saturday is the gap in scripture, undefined by the stories, left wide open in the yawning space of time.

Holy Saturday is now. The time between sickness and the cure. It’s the time before the temple is rebuilt. It’s the time when the cracks in society are splitting apart. It’s the time when the gaps are made clear, for when the rebuilding needs to happen.

And we await the healing, sabbath, wholeness of Easter and the time we can be together.

Somehow, this dark waiting time can be Holy too.

More Pandemic Prayers