A-Part: A Prayer

God, I am tired of being in parts.

My family is scattered in different States

My church is scattered across the city

And the pieces and parts of myself that were for friendships and socialization are hard to find.

And we are all in the parables of the lost–we’ve all lost money, and our flock and family.

We’ve lost a year. A year of birthdays and friendships and fun. A year of school and work and experiences. A year of community. All of it has sucked, and been sucked our of it and we are all left in pieces, in parts.

I am so tired of being apart, God.

And I keep thinking, how we keep trying to be community!

First with the loving works given to us by artists, then with rainbows, then we bells ringing and neighbors singing, and parking lot hangouts and drive by parties. Bubbles and postcards, phone calls and chocolate, zoom calls and google calls and Skype calls and FaceTime calls–all to ad nauseum.

Look how we are all trying to be together while we are a part.

I think of my congregant in Japan who sends us masks and face shields,

I think of my congregant in Western New York who sends us articles and prayers

I think of our friend in Pakistan, or Dubai (depending) who edits our YouTube.

God we are trying, so hard, and I can’t wait to try this community again.

In the midst of being prodigal children, in the midst of being lost, we are trying to find one another!

God, be with us.

Inscribe on our hearts the lessons of essential workers and the inadequacy of disability checks of the skewed value of work over health, and the indelible effects that racism has on every single system we have.

God, I can’t wait until we can be in person together.

Then we will rejoice: we have found our coin, our flock, our family!

And until we are there, help us God, please help us to continue to look for community.

Because Church happens whenever we seek, find and are a community.

Don’t let us give up. Sustain us like the widow, like the shepherd, like the stubborn (and possibly too recalcitrant) prodigal family.

Help us to Find one another we pray.

Amen.

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

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Lent 3 Topical Prayer

Topical Prayer: God sometimes we feel like the lost coin or the lost sheep or the lost son, wandering and lonely. We are on the journey, and then suddenly we get lost along the way. Other times we feel like the older brother doing all of the right things with little recognition and credit. However, you invite us to be the widow and the shepherd and the parent: ebullient with welcome! You celebrate with those who are celebrating, God for you are there for every step of the journey. Dancing in the streets and striving to include and find every single person who feels lost. You want us to be the living invitation of your love and belonging. Our job is not to judge—thank God—but instead to celebrate and welcome. Help us, grant us your Holy Spirit so we can  be your open door of welcome today and everyday we pray. Amen.

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Lent 3 Prayers

The Possibility of Journeying Home

March 7

Lent 3

Lost Sheep, Coin, Son

Luke 15:1-32

Psalm 119:167-176

Call to Worship: 

God you call us home

And whenever one of us is missing, you search for us without ceasing

Lord, you are welcoming

When one us is discluded or left out, you immediately welcome us to the table.

Lord, you are the father, running to embrace us and welcome us home!

Come let us celebrate as the children of God today. 

Invitation: God is always inviting us to return home. Come let us bring our full selves home to God.

Prayer of Confession: God I confess that when I feel lost, it is hard to return to you. All my imperfections scream at me, telling me that I am not deserving of your love. And sometimes those fears are confirmed by my experience of human judgement or prejudices. Remind me that you are never prejudiced God, you welcome me home and renew me every single time I ask for forgiveness. Forgive me for all that I did that was wrong and all the things I have not done that I ought to have done. Forgive me for forgetting that nothing can separate me from your love, and help me to return to your loving embrace I pray. Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: Our God will always leave a light on for us, that light is Jesus Christ. Know the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven

Prayer of the day/Dedication: Lord, every single time someone enters into your presence, you welcome them with a party. Help us to party people into your Kingdom we pray!

Communion Prayer: God, you never forget us or leave us behind. When we seemed lost and alone you sent your only son Jesus, love incarnate to find us, call us by name, love us and teach us. Send your Holy Spirit onto these elements, so that when we feel lost or alone, we might be nourished by Jesus Christ. We pray this in God’s most Holy Name. Amen. 

Hymns: Seek Ye First, Jesus Priceless Treasure, Lord I Want to Be a Christian, Love Divine All Love Excelling, O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go, O Jesus I Have Promised

Taize: Ubi Caritas: where there is goodness and love there is God

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son: Narrative Lectionary Lenten Links of Prayer

il_340x270-513669763_qs1d

Image

Invitation to be Found by Mike Williams

Feel free to use/edit. Credit to the original author (i.e. based on prayer/prayers written by Rev Mike Williams) appreciated.

Luke 15:1-32 and Psalm 119:167-176 or Psalm 119:176

Call to Worship (based on Psalm 119:157-176)

The sum of God’s word is truth. The righteous ordinances of our God endure forever.

We rejoice in God’s word like those who find great spoil                                                                               

We come together today to praise God and to find the peace granted to those who love God’s law.                                                                                                                                       

We hope for the Lord’s salvation and love the Lord’s decrees.                                                                                                     

In this time of worship let our supplication come before our Lord, who gives understanding from God’s word.                                                                                                           

Let our lips pour forth praise and let us sing of God’s promise.

Let us live to praise our God and let God’s ordinances help us in our worship.                                           

For we have gone astray like lost sheep, but the Lord has sought us out, and sent us God’s Son so that we might once more remember God’s commandments.

Prayer of Invocation

Holy Father of prodigal children everywhere, as we come into your presence today, we praise you for the assurance of your love. We thank you for gift of your Son who comes to us with stories of redemption and forgiveness. In this time of worship, pour out your Spirit upon us, that we may hear the promise of your grace. Fill us with compassion for your world. Help us to celebrate with those who come to life by finding you. Amen

Call to Confession

No matter how familiar we are with them, the stories of Jesus continually catch us off guard. Whether we think of ourselves as righteous, dutiful children, or as sheep who have gone astray, Christ reminds us of our continuous need for him. Let us now acknowledge our shortcomings, and remind ourselves of God’s grace, by praying together the prayer of confession…

Prayer of Confession

Great Shepherd, we come to you today recognizing that, like lost sheep, we have gone astray. You have given us your word and called us to live by your commandments. Yet, seeking greener pastures, we have squandered the riches you have given us and lived lives focused on ourselves. We have also failed to see the needs of others and refused to offer forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Remind us, O God, of the gift of your Son. Empower us with your grace, and call us to rejoice as sheep who have been returned to your fold. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Sisters and brothers, the promise of Gospel is that we have a shepherd who will never stop looking for us. Christ comes to us and brings us home once more, leading us into the presence of the God who loves us. Jesus assures us that grace is real. Indeed, he tells us “there is joy in the presence of God over one sinner who repents.” Know that you are forgiven and be at peace.

Passing of the Peace

The father of the prodigal son called everyone together to celebrate the return of the child he thought he had lost. In the same way, let us celebrate together the forgiveness we have received through the passing of the peace.

Communion Prayer:

Gracious God, like lost sheep we wander far from your love. We chase after things that do not satisfy and end up far from where you would have us be. We find ourselves spiritually dying from hunger. In your mercy, O God, you have not abandoned us to our own wills. Although we are not worthy to stand before you, you have sent your Son, the good shepherd, to pursue us and call us back to the fold. In this moment we ask you to pour out your Holy Spirit on these elements. Make this sacrament a foretaste of your heavenly kingdom where there is bread enough to spare. You are always with us and have given us everything. Let us now celebrate with you and all the angels of heaven as repentant sinners who once were lost, but now are found. This we ask, trusting in your precious name, Amen.

Offering Prayer/Prayer of Dedication

Generous and giving God, you have reminded us of your prodigal love. You have bestowed upon us blessings beyond measure. We praise you for your kindness and for the chance to return a portion of that back into your service. Take what we have given and let it be a symbol of the compassion that you have for your world. Use it to fill those who have little, and guide those who are lost. Pour out your Holy Spirit on these tithes and offerings, so that your grace might be known throughout the world. Amen.

Prayer Station by Rev. Shea Zellweger

Psalm 119:167-176

167 I keep your rules;
I love them greatly.
168 I keep your precepts and rules,
for you are aware of everything I do.
169 Listen to my cry for help, O Lord!
Give me insight by your word!
170 Listen to my appeal for mercy!
Deliver me, as you promised.
171 May praise flow freely from my lips,
for you teach me your statutes.
172 May my tongue sing about your instructions,
for all your commands are just.
173 May your hand help me,
for I choose to obey your precepts.
174 I long for your deliverance, O Lord;
I find delight in your law.
175 May I live and praise you!
May your regulations help me!
176 I have wandered off like a lost sheep.
Come looking for your servant,
for I do not forget your commands.

water

 

Guide:

Read the psalm once, and ponder it for a moment.

Place a cup in the sand.

Read the psalm a second time, this time paying special attention to verse 171.

Pour water from the pitcher into the cup as you say (aloud or silently) “May praise flow freely from my lips.” Just as freely flowing water quickly fills the cup, so freely flowing praise can quickly fill our lives.

Read the psalm a third time as a song of praise.

More Narrative Lectionary Lenten Themed Prayers  

WHy Church is not about Belief in JESUS!!!!

Every time we talk about belief in the Bible, the word is actually faith.

WAHOO! LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN: religion is about belief, whereas it should be (and spirituality really is about) faith.

For a handy chart with some scripture click here

Here is the deal

Beliefs are the limit of human capabilities, they allow us to stretch. Knowledge takes us only so far, beliefs are what we can do beyond knowledge

Faith is letting go to what we know or even believe, and letting the fullness of God to enter our lives. It is beginning to understand that God is beyond our ken, and there is something we live in

Belief is individual, its something you say to define who you are. These is why beliefs are so hard to change, because they are about who you are, and you have reasons for the beliefs you hold. A person (like your spouse or sibling) has a set of beliefs oftentimes they are not e–zzzzactllllyyyy the same as what you believe. Beliefs are a part of who you are. This is why people (and groups, like Presbyterians) have a set of beliefs.

Faith is communal, its about what holds people together. Its often more about the gaps and differences rather than similarities. Faith is what allows you to not know everything, its about practicing the give and take of beliefs. If you don’t have the energy or the wherewithal to believe or trust in something, you can come to a group where others can do what you can’t. When people ask Why do you go to church? Can’t I just believe what I want to at home? I completely agree…one can be spiritual, disciplined and have beliefs on one’s own. And these beliefs are important. BUT, faith is a community that allows for a deeper exploration that isn’t only about what we believe.

Beliefs are tenants that we hang onto. The structures by which we understand the world. As much as they are about who we are, they also are about how we relate to the world and what is important to us. They are the structure on which we hang our hats (philosophers are GREAT at this). Beliefs are something to hang onto.

Faith is a seed–its a small beginning of who we are that we allow to grow. Although it starts out with who we are, its more flexible, not defining our world but instead is something we can come home to (Chart), somewhere to live in the world of different beliefs. Faith holds onto us when we are lost, its what comes and looks for us when we can’t find our way back–Prodigal son, lost coin, lost sheep.

There is nothing wrong with beliefs, I think they are great…they help us to define our world and to express who we are….there are places for beliefs in Christianity–they tend to be during the time of confession, when we say who we are, what we believe first together as a particular church and then silently as individuals. Beliefs are wonderful.

Faith is different that belief though, and in all the places (except in 1st Timothy) what we define as belief is actually faith: epistw (pronounced epistu) .

(Probably because the disciples continue to say they have unfaith, which isn’t a word for us but disbelief is….ah, the logistics of language LOL). Many, many times the disciples and followers of Christ confess that they do not have enough faith…they ask for Christ to help it to grow.

Belief is about telling our own story—telling who we are and why we are that way and what we believe

Faith  is about a way of life, a way of faith, hope and trust in the Lord that is beyond us without God’s help. Faith is something we CAN’T hang onto by ourselves, its too big for us to understand. Its like when Peter walks across water, one minute he has faith–the fullness of God in him, and then it becomes too much and he has to let go and thus starts to sink. These moments are flashes, pieces where we connect via community and God to the fullness of life.

Ex:

Luke 17:3b-6

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them. The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

Note, the problem isn’t that the disciples don’t believe in forgiveness, no doubt they do. They just don’t necessarily have the capabilities to do that much forgiveness all the time, so they need more faith (more trust/hope/love from God) in order to be able to live a life of faith.

In Conclusion: Spiritual but not Religious …the church is doing it backwards Christians such as Peter Rollins, Jay Bakker and Jim Palmer deal with the problem of belief and doubt. They say that doubt isn’t counter to belief, its a part of it. I would dig deeper as say that both belief and doubt are a part of the richer, communal and God-intiated (and gift of) faith. (Faith Hope and Love, hence why LOVE is the most important, its about how you live things out, not what you believe)

The Church shouldn’t be a place of tenants and beliefs, it should be a community of questions and faith. The church should be a place for unbelievers to gather (the drunks, the prostitutes and the lepers should be taxi-ed in!)

•Ever notice that Jesus doesn’t go around touted his beliefs. Instead he ask people what they believe (or don’t believe) and then meets them there! (up a tree, by a well, at a stoning, on a cross)…The disciples certainly don’t always retain their trust in God. But, Christ doesn’t ask what people’s beliefs are before them, instead he works to increase their faith. And when people ask Jesus questions, he doesn’t tell them what they should believe, instead he asks them a question in return.

Essentially this scenario takes place over and over, the penultimate being the interchange with Pilate (Katy’s interpretation of events to follow)

Pilate: Who are you?

Jesus: Who do you believe I am?

Pilate: Are you the King of the Jews?

Jesus: So you say…

Pilate: You are the savior?

Jesus: If you think so….

Pilate: Just answer me, are you the King or aren’t you?

Jesus: You say I am, and all these people say I am, I don’t claim to be the King of the Jews, however, I will say this. Even if everyone stopped calling me the King, then the very rocks would say that’s who I am…just saying………

Note: not putting beliefs on others, just a discussion about where the community of faith was….that should be how the church exists!!!!!!

This is the call of the church, we are called not to a set of beliefs (that’s law people) but the gift of faith (YAY for saved by grace not works)……

I don’t know what I believe…but I do have a little faith!

For God so loved the world that whoever has (even a little) faith into him shall never die, but have eternal life

Spiritual & Religious Chart

When people say they are spiritual not religious, they are often indicating that they do not hold the “beliefs” purported/preached/encouraged (or forced) by religion. What they are trying to verbalize is their journey of faith, and the importance of it.

Here there is a little known dichotomy between belief and faith. Church should be a place to nurture faith, but spiritual people often see belief as getting in the way. (note epistus în the New Testament is often translated as belief, but it really means faith. “Belief” is only present in 2 Tim 13:11)

Belief                                                                 Faith

•Telling Our Story (our picture)                   •Telling God’s Story (God is bigger)

Belief                                                                 Faith

•tenants that help us frame the world         • the seed that can grow                              (                                                                                 (Mustard Seed of Faith Luke 17:3-6)

                                                                  Belief                                                                 Faith

•as far as humans can go: stretching to limits       • letting go—> to who God is                                                                                                       (Where were you when earth was formed Job 38)

Belief                                                                 Faith

•individual                                                        •communal                                                                                                                                           (Why church? so that the community can support you with faith even when you can’t)

Belief                                                                 Faith

•something we hang onto                                •what holds onto to us when we are lost                                                                                        (Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32)

Belief                                                                 Faith

• things we say to define ourselves                 •something to come home to                                                                                                             (Heaven is like…Matthew 13: 31-32)

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

Lady Jabberwocky

Write with Heart

A Pastor's Heart

Thoughts on Life and Faith

9:30am Summer Worship @NCPC

Won't You Be Our Neighbor

Martha Spong

Clergy Coach

r e F o c u s

a ministry for transition

Church Set Free

Love is the answer - now what's your question?

Living Contemplatively

Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

PNEUMYTHOLOGY

ROBERT LAMBERT JONES III

A Spirit Filled Life

Seeing the Sacred in the Everyday

Improvisations

thinking outloud online

G-Free Rev

Knittin' and Preachin'

Infinite Windows

Meditations on faith and art

Mom Meets Blog

Managing motherhood, midlife and a blog