Existential Crises

Holy Spirit, we need to talk about this whole humanity thing.

Because I am plumb worn out from having existential crises about the human race!

Between pandemics, systematic oppression, the continual pursuit of power and principalities that screw the costs, and the whole the earth itself seems to be crying out from abuse thing, my head is spinning.

This is not to mention poverty, homelessness, neglect of those who are addicted, and the deaths of black and brown children, and I am reminded once again of the orphans which (again) have been created and abused by my very own government, oh and there’s a war in Armenia where my Aunt is located– I find I am bone weary.

Can these bones walk?

Holy Spirit, do you sometimes give humanity the side eye when you appear in bird form?

Because I trust in you. I trust God, and I love Jesus. This is not about that.

But I am dried out, cracked at the core when I think of humanity as whole.

I have found amazing human beings on earth. In the Singular I know individuals: gracious and forgiving ones, selfless and devoted ones, tireless and hard working ones. I love many-a-person…

But when it comes to humanity…

Well let’s just say I understand that whole flood thing better now.

Sometimes I wish I could do a reboot too, but we both know that doesn’t fix the inherent issues with being human

And so, here I am, stuck in an existential crises.

Why do we exist?

And, maybe the real existential question is this: if I know we can do better, how are we not doing better? Why?

Ok, but we have to try.

We have to show that those who are poor, or homeless are beloved.

We have to constantly interrupt racism and oppression, and plots to kill people or the neglect that lets people die. We have to stand up to power.

God, I remember a story in the Bible when someone asked Jesus a very political question about marriage, he basically said “that’s a human thing, God doesn’t care about such things”

Immediately this was followed up with a question about what does God care about, and Jesus responds with a simple “Love God, and Love each other” summary of, well, basically everything!

As always, when I have trouble loving other humans, I reground myself in loving you God.

Because I don’t know how to love humanity, and I don’t know why we are here.

So I guess I’m going to have to love you, and trust that you are continually helping us to course correct so that all things work together for good.

But right now, I’m going to snuggle under the covers, and tell myself that its ok that I don’t know how to process humanity’s existential crisis right now, because that’s not my job.

Help me to do my job–

that whole loving thing, I pray

Amen.

Agnusday.org - The Lectionary Comic

https://www.agnusday.org/comics/456/matthew24-36-44

More Mundane Prayers Here, Here is the Link for Pandemic Prayers and Resources

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I’m Tired of Being Part of a Major Historical Event

God, I never realized that historic events aren’t really one thing. Instead they are the combination of humanity’s foibles boiling over to the point of historicity.

I didn’t even know historicity was a real word until today.

And what will bubble up next? Australian Fires, Hurricanes, Derechos, Post Offices. Lord I’m only human, how can I process all this? Or maybe I can’t.

Did racism cause the Black Lives Matter marches and sometime riots? What ingredients meshed exactly right to finally give people the exact things they needed to get out and protest: racism, yes, but also poverty and pandemics, boredom and bereavement, time and trouble.

These sort of things come from the perfect balance, so that the risk you are taking is the best risk possible.

God, I’ve been thinking a lot about risk. Of Hagar the enslaved who risked raising her son in the desert, about Joseph the imprisoned who risked interpreting dreams of his cellmates, of Rahab of Canaan who defied expectations to help Joshua.

What is the perfect risk for us as Christians right now? As we look at this particularly moment in history, how do we decided how to risk, and who to risk, and why?

And how do we risk for ourselves and our community, and yet still practice grace towards all the rest of humanity–who are having to make the same decisions in different circumstances.

Truly we are all weathering the same storm: but in different boats, with different tools and different gifts.

Really God, is now the time to discern gifts? I mean, really and truly God, I want you to know that now is a truly risky time to discern our gifts.

Selah!

Remind us, it’s worth the time.

Black Lives Matter

Remind us, We are worth the time.

Safety first

Remind us, You are worth the time.

God of the poor, the sick and the marginal.

And teach us how to risk in this historic moment, in the best, kindest most gracious way we can.

I pray this with all those who are risking right now. Help me stand with them I pray.

Amen.

Permission to Use or Adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Prayer at the Mailbox

God, only you know how many times I’ve been to the mailbox.

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Checking it two to five times because some days the most exciting interaction of the day is getting my mail.

Lord, you know how I fell back in love with mail. The encouraging letter from an old connection to take care of myself during the pandemic–the boxes of small treats, the postcards to the children, and the much needed supplies in the height of local shortages.

The Easter cards, I never had time to do, where I poured my love out to my congregation, the handwritten notes and the small activity books for the kids of the church.

Lord this is prayer for the mail, which was so consistent in my life and did not used to be exciting. It used to just be bills and ads, and have instead been a tangible, touchable, visual sign of love and community.

Protect the mail, I pray.

Amen.

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

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

Decision Fatigue

Lord God Almighty, Can’t you just make the decision for me?

COVID Risk Chart

Image xkcd comic

In a time when every single decision seems to carry weight. Do we go to the grocery store, or do take out? Am I appropriately spaced from the person nearby? Do I go to bed or spend 5 more minutes on this moment of free time?

Reopening sucks. Are we even reopening? How much can we reopen? Should we even try when we know that it’s still not safe?

Lord, decision making is not safe right now.

Do I send my kids to some kind of camp or school? Do I accede to digital learning, should i just homeschool (please God let the answer not be that I should be homeschooling, because i just can’t)

Lord, usually we make decisions in a split second, in a culture where immediacy is the primary value–I valued the swiftness over the efficacy.

God, Lord, Jesus, Holy Ghost. How do you–with three people make any decisions.

Do you have any hints for me?

Can you just make the decision for me? No?……

Well then, help me to weigh, to quiet my voice enough to give some room for yours–

Help me to make the best decision I can in the moment, remind me that nothing has to be written in stone.

Help me to make the right risky decisions: About who to help, who to be in relationship with, how to donate & protest in all the needful ways.

Give me the strength I need face the things I have to continue to say no to…give me the support I need to carry on in the midst of it all.

and

Grant me your grace, as I make the hard decisions I pray.

And please help every single human who is making all of the decisions. Kyrie Elesion.

Send your Holy Spirit, nudge us (or shove us) in the right direction, build consensus, Soften the hard-hearted so they can hear the facts they need to make the right decisions.

In Jesus Holy Name, please hear our prayer

Amen

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

Psalm 73 for today: Plea of Relief from Oppressors

1 Truly God is good to all those who are seeking love

2 But I will admit, sometimes  I have tripped on my journey, I’ve almost fallen off the path more than once not understanding the cry Black Lives Matter.

3 For I have seen the siren call of white privilege, I saw how those in power prosper calling themselves “great.” I have forgotten that i too benefit from a racist system.

4 Those White Supremacists admit no pain, ever, they have doctors and massages and rest. They can completely ignore the pandemic that ravages the communities of color.

5 They are not troubled by other people. They go around unmasked, breathing on everyone. For they do not have to deal with, what I have to deal with. They can ignore the pain of the world.

6. They decorate themselves with pride being “the greatest.” They dress themselves in a fine suit of violence. Making it seem beautiful.

7. Their eyes bulge with their privilege, their hearts allow them to speak feelings as facts.

8 They scoff and speak with malice and threats to all who disagree. Loftily & carelessesly they threaten oppression, so normal is it for them.

9They set their mouths against God, and their tongues spread the disease and oppression all of the earth.

10 People turn and praise them, and cannot (no matter what) find fault with them.

11 They say “God won’t know” or “Truly power and Jesus are on the same side; MAGA”

12 Such are the wicked, comfortable with evil, as they increase their riches from a pandemic, poverty and racism.

13. I have tried to keep my heart clean: but bigotry is insidious. I try to wash my hands from the pandemic, but I must expose myself to others.

14 We small people are plagued, punished everyday by our context.

15 But if I say “all lives matter” or “church is more important than flattening the curve” I would have been untrue to the circle of your children.

16 But when I thought about how to understand what is going on. I immediately become overwhelmed.

17 then I put my sanctuary in God, instead. It is then I see how they will end.

18 You are setting them in slippery places of lies of their own making. You will make them fall to ruin.

19 They will be destroyed in a  moment, swept away utterly by errors.

20 They will be like a dream when one awakes–a footnote in the history of God’s love–and upon awaking you despise their phantoms

21 When my soul we bitter, before I understand, you pricked my heard

22 I was stupid and ignorant, with microaggressions and resting on my privilege that we will never experience a pandemic, or tyranny, or widespread racism, or riots

23 Luckily, you continue to be with me, and you hold my hand as I walk

24 You guide me with your Holy Spirit, and after you will welcome me home with open arms

25 Why do I desire heaven? For you God. There is nothing I desire more than Jesus.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is my strength of  my heart, and claims me as God’s own.

27 Indeed those who are far from you will perish, you put an end to all that is false.

28 But for me, it is good to be near my God; I have made the Lord God my refuge.

And I will not fear to seek justice and tell of your works.

 

 

Feel free to use or Adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

A Prayer for the Protestors

Black Lives Matter

 

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

Holy Days & Sabbath

On the seventh Day, God decided to relieve the monotony and created Sabbath.

Have you read the studies where if there are no special or memorable days, time goes quickly? And humans remember less? Because human brains are not wired to do the same thing everyday.

How strange is that, if I were designing a creature, I would design it to do the same thing all the time.

And although we prefer a structure and not changing, in reality we do not thrive in this environment.

As evidenced by quarantine: where many are working without stopping and many are stopping without working.

So God created a different kind of day, a memorable day, a holy day.

When I’m stuck, and things seem overwhelming, sometimes I declare a random holiday, to help to bide the time. I will stop everything and turn my focus to crafts or baking or reading a (gasp) new book.

My mom has been marking the silly holidays (Bugs Bunny Day, Hoagie Day, Missing Sock Day), and it has been brightening our otherwise monotonous time.

In Middle Ages the church acted as Union insofar as they declared many, many holidays to give people appropriate rest. 12 days at Christmas, every Sunday and 7 weeks after Easter, plus weddings and funerals. They sometimes would have as much as a half a year off.

The creation of Holy Days and Holy Times is part of who God is, it’s a part of who we are. How are we blessing the ordinary days? What makes things Holy today?

May you find Sabbath, and rest!

Culturenik Doctor Who Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Quote Tardis Blue Illustration Sci Fi British TV Television Show Print (Unframed 12x24 Poster)

 

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