Welcome to Morning Prayer

Welcome! Consider this your invitation to join our on-line morning prayer group. We gather every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. Central Time.

If you would like to join us, simply  go to our Zoom hangout at 8:30 am (Central Time) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (You will have to download something the first time you use Zoom.) We are currently using the Morning Prayer Liturgy below.

For more information about me, please see my primary blog, Spacious Faith.

Thanks for stopping by,
Joanna

Morning Prayer: October 2020

Call to Worship from John 14:27

Jesus says: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Scripture: from Psalm 27

The Holy One is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
God is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid? . . .

 One thing I asked of my God,
    that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Holy One
    all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Divine,
    and to inquire in God’s temple.

For God will hide me in divine shelter
    in the day of trouble;
and conceal me under the cover of the holy tent;
    God will set me high on a rock. . . .

 Hear, O Holy One, when I cry aloud,
    be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek God’s face!”
    Your face, God, do I seek.

Collect

Holy One of light and salvation, you are our stronghold, our shelter, our rock. Let us not fear the people or systems that perpetuate evil, but let us fearlessly live out your reign of peace and justice. Let us behold the beauty of your beloved Kindom. Amen.

Scripture: 1 Kings 17:17-24

After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 She then said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!” 19 But he said to her, “Give me your son.” He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. 20 He cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.” 24 So the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation: from Joanna Harader

This is the first resurrection story in the Bible. It is, you could argue, the ultimate miracle—a precursor to the culmination of the Christian narrative in Jesus’ resurrection; the surest evidence of God’s power: bringing a dead person back to life.

Considering the magnitude of this miracle, I am struck by how private it is. In the next chapter, we can read the story of the big competition between Elijah and the prophets of Baal with the dramatic fire coming down from heaven; a miracle to prove the existence and the power of Yahweh. Elijah gathered a big crowd and made a big show of this fire miracle.

How much more profound, more awe-inspiring, more impressive is this miracle of renewed life? How much more fully does this dead-now-living boy reveal the nature and power of God? And yet there is no crowd. Only Elijah in his room with the dead boy. No big speech. Only the mother’s deep pain and Elijah’s desperate demands of God.

In this story we have, without a doubt, the fact of God’s presence. And the fact of God’s activity. A presence and activity that are not for show, not to prove a point, but a presence and activity that exist because God is in relationship with the widow and Elijah and the boy.

Offering Our Prayers

Holy One, we seek your beauty, and we find it in so many places. Hear now our prayers of thanksgiving. [offer prayers of gratitude with response: God of life, . . . we give you thanks.]

Holy One, we know you have told us not to be afraid, still many concerns weigh on our spirits. Grant us your peace and receive our prayers . . . [offer prayers of intercession with response: God, in your mercy . . . Hear our prayer.]

Prayer: A Song of Christ’s Goodness (Anselm of Canterbury)

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you;
you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.
Often you weep over our sins and our pride,
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgment.
You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds,
in sickness you nurse us and with pure milk you feed us.
Jesus, by your dying, we are born to new life;
by your anguish and labor we come forth in joy.
Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness;
through your gentleness, we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead,
your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy, heal us;
in your love and tenderness, remake us.
In your compassion, bring grace and forgiveness,
for the beauty of heaven, may your love prepare us.

Benediction from Romans 8:38-39

As you live this day, hold these words in your heart: Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Morning Prayer: September 2020

Call to Worship from Isaiah 35

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.”

Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Scripture: Isaiah 43: 1-3, 16, 18-21

But now thus says the Holy One:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . .
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters.

 Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
 I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
     the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

Collect

Jesus, you are the way through the wilderness: show us your truth in which we journey, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit be in us the life that draws us to God. Amen.

(source: F.B. McNutt, The Prayer Manual [London: Mowbray, 1961], p. 29, adapted)

Scripture: Matthew 22:1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Meditation:  from Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder

While Matthew’s Jesus speaks the parable as a means of addressing Roman imperialism and abuse of power, the passage is clearly a polemic highlighting social and class hierarchy. It is a verbal assault against a top-down society. There was no middle ground or middle class. The rich ruler uses those under his authority to advance his personal cause. His subjects lose their lives as a result of their subservience and submission. The slaves are fodder in a fight among the wealthy. They lose their being, perhaps all they have, because one person of means slights another one.

Offering Our Prayers

Holy One, even in the midst of the wilderness, we rejoice with joy and singing. Hear now our prayers of thanksgiving. [offer prayers of gratitude with response: God of life, . . . we give you thanks.]

Holy One, it feels at times as if we must pass through the waters and walk through the fire. Do not let us be overwhelmed. Grant us your peace and receive these concerns we carry in our hearts . . . [offer prayers of intercession with response: In your mercy . . . God hear our prayer.]

 Prayer from Hildegard of Bingen 

O comforting fire of Spirit,
Life, within the very Life of all Creation.
Holy you are in giving life to All.

Holy you are in anointing
those who are not whole;
Holy you are in cleansing
a festering wound.

O sacred breath,
O fire of love, . . .
enfold those who offer blessing.

Care for those
who are imprisoned by the enemy
and dissolve the bonds of those
whom Divinity wishes to save.

O mightiest path which penetrates All,
from the height to every Earthly abyss,
you compose All, you unite All. . . .

Therefore, praise be to you
who are the sound of praise
and the greatest prize of Life,
who are hope and richest honor
bequeathing the reward of Light.

Amen

Benediction from Saint Clare

Live without fear: your Creator has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Go in peace to follow the good road and may God’s blessing be with you always. Amen.

Morning Prayer: August 2020

Call to Worship from Micah 6:8

Holy One, you have told us what is good.
So this day we seek to do justice,
To love kindness,
And to walk humbly with you.

Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Scripture: Psalm 37: 1-6; 23-24

Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not be envious of wrongdoers,
for they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Holy One, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in God,
who will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Holy One;
trust in God, and God will act.
God will make your vindication shine like the light,
and the justice of your cause like the noonday. . . .

 23 Our steps are made firm by the Holy One,
when God delights in our way;
24 though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the Holy One holds us by the hand. . . .

Collect (from the Book of Common Prayer)

Almighty God, who created us in your own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 16:21-28

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

27 “For the Son of Humanity is to come with his angels in the glory of God, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation: by Sarah Dylan Breuer

Let’s be clear about who this “Christ,” this anointed one, is: he’s Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified as a threat to the order of families and of the Empire. This Jesus, is the one the God of Israel chose as the Son of Man, judge of the nations, who repays evildoers by calling down forgiveness rather than fire. And so believing that the nations will be judged can bring freedom from fear, when we believe that the judge is Jesus. We can be at peace even when we’re in conflict with the authorities of this world when we’re in the care of the Prince of Peace. We don’t have to prove to anyone, even ourselves, that we’re worthy of love if we take in that Jesus loved us without regard for deserving.

As we follow Jesus, things will change — us, our relationships, our world. Change means losing things as they were, but if we’ve caught Jesus’ vision for how God is redeeming the world, we know that what we gain is of far greater value than the chains we lose.

Offering Our Prayers

Holy One, we thank you for your presence with us. We take delight in you. Hear now our prayers of thanksgiving. [offer prayers of gratitude with response: God of life, . . . we give you thanks.]

Holy One, you hold us by the hand; incline your ear to us and receive these concerns we carry in our hearts . . . [offer prayers of intercession with response: In your mercy . . . God hear our prayer.]

Prayer

Deliver us, O God,
from any hesitation
to take a stand for justice.
May we never run
from our responsibility
to You.
In You, O God,
we find the strength
to confront the forces of evil,
the courage to stand for
and speak Your truth
no matter what the cost.
You are our way,
our truth, our life,
our integrity forever.
Holy are You,
O Blessed Indwelling,
now and forever.
Amen.

–Miriam Therese Winter, WomanWord: A Feminist Lectionary and Psalter, p. 141

Benediction (from Kathy Galloway)

The love of the faithful Creator,
the peace of the wounded Healer,
the joy of the challenging Spirit,
the hope of the Three in One
surround and encourage you,
this morning, this day, and forever. Amen

Morning Prayer: July 2020

 

Call to Worship from Psalm 96

Worship God in holy splendor
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Scripture: Proverbs 8:22-31

[Wisdom speaking]
The Holy One created me at the beginning of the work,
the first of God’s acts of long ago.
 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
 when God had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
 When God established the heavens, I was there,
when God drew a circle on the face of the deep,
and made firm the skies above,
when God established the fountains of the deep,
and assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress the divine command,
when God marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside God, like a master worker;
and I was daily God’s delight,
rejoicing before God always,
 rejoicing in God’s inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.

Collect (from the New Zealand Prayer Book)

God of unchangeable power, when you fashioned the world the morning stars sang together and the host of heaven shouted for joy; open our eyes to the wonders of creation and teach us to use all things for good, to the honor of your glorious name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 14:13-21

 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation “Loaves and Fishes” by David Whyte

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

 

Offering Our Prayers

Holy One, we celebrate your generous and abundant creation and we rejoice to be part of all that you call “good.” Hear our prayers of thanksgiving. [offer prayers of gratitude with response: God of life, . . . we give you thanks.]

Holy One, you are a rock of refuge for us; incline your ear to us and receive these concerns we carry in our hearts . . . [offer prayers of intercession with response: In your mercy . . . God hear our prayer.]

Prayer (New Zealand Lord’s Prayer)

Eternal Spirit, Earth-Maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name shall echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed
by the peoples of the earth!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever.
Amen.

Benediction (traditional Guatemalan blessing; #77 in Sing the Journey)

The peace of the earth be with you, the peace of the heavens too;
The peace of the rivers be with you, the peace of the oceans too.
Deep peace falling over you.
God’s peace growing in you.

Morning Prayer: Pentecost Season 2020

Call to Worship

Veni Sancte Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly radiance of your light.
Come, parent of the poor, come, giver of gifts, come, light of the heart.
Greatest comforter, sweet guest of the soul, sweet consolation.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Psalm: 143:7-10

Answer me quickly, O God;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me,
or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

Save me, O Holy One, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
Let your good spirit lead me
on a level path.

Collect (from the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship)

God of power,
may the boldness of your Spirit transform us,
may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us,
may the gifts of your Spirit
be our goal and our strength,
now and always. Amen.

Scripture: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67

 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35  God has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys. 36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has. 37 My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38 but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.’ 

“I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going! 43 I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44 and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also”—let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’

**

45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46 She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she also watered the camels. 47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. 48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49 Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.”

**

 And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.” 59 So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

“May you, our sister, become
    thousands of myriads;
may your offspring gain possession
    of the gates of their foes.”

61 Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

62 Now Isaac had come from[a] Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. 63 Isaac went out in the evening to walk[b] in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. 64 And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, 65 and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

 

Offering Our Prayers

Holy One, we celebrate the gift of Your Spirit in this Pentecost season. We offer to you now our deep thanks for your presence in our lives and for all that is good . . .  [offer prayers of gratitude with response: God of life, . . . we give you thanks.]

Holy One, we flee to you for refuge; in you we put our trust. Receive now these concerns we carry in our hearts . . . [offer prayers of intercession with response: In your mercy . . . God hear our prayer.]

Pentecost Prayer from Joan Chittister

May the Gifts of the Holy Spirit bring [spiritual] fire to the earth
so that the presence of God may be seen
in a new light, in new places, in new ways.

May our own hearts burst into flame
so that no obstacle, no matter how great,
ever obstructs the message of the God within each of us.

May we come to trust the Word of God in our heart,
to speak it with courage, to follow it faithfully
and to fan it to flame in others.

May the Jesus who filled women
with his Holy Spirit fill the world and the church
with new respect for women’s power and presence.

Give [us], Great God, a sense of the Breath of Spirit within [us].

Amen.

Benediction

As we live this day,
may the wind of the Spirit startle our senses and blow through our lives;
may the fire of the Spirit scorch our complacency and light our way.
And may the blessing of the Holy One—Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer—rest with us now and forever more. Amen.

Morning Prayer Liturgy: Easter Season 2020

Call to Worship (Matthew 28:5-7)

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples,”Jesus has been raised from the dead!”

Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Psalm: Psalm 16

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.

 I say to the Holy One, “You are my God;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.

 God, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
 I will praise the Holy One, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on God.
    With God at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

 

Collect (from the Church of England)

God of glory,
by the raising of Jesus you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open in our Savior Jesus Christ.

Scripture: Acts 2:1-6, 12-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. . . .  All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
        and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
        before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation:

Unless the eye catch fire,
The God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
The God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
The God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
The God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
The God will not be known.

William Blake (1757-1827) from Pentecost

Offering Our Prayers 

Holy One, you make known to us the path of life and fill us with joy in your presence. We offer to you now our deep thanks for your presence in our lives and for all that is good . . .  [offer prayers of gratitude with response: God of life, . . . we give you thanks.]

Holy  One, in you we take refuge and to you we lift up the concerns we carry in our hearts . . .  [offer prayers of intercession with response: In your mercy . . . God hear our prayer.]

Canticle: (from A New Zealand Prayer Book)

God of unchangeable power, when you fashioned the world the stars sang together and the host of heaven shouted for joy; open our eyes to the wonders of creation and teach us to use all things for good, to the honor of your glorious name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Benediction (from Romans 38-39)

Live this day knowing that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, the Resurrected One.

Morning Prayer Liturgy: Lent 2020

Call to Worship (from Psalm 121)

We will lift up our eyes to the hills—
from where will our help come?
Our help comes from the Eternal One,
who made heaven and earth.

God will not let our feet be moved;
The Holy One who keeps us will not slumber.
The One who keeps our people
will neither slumber nor sleep.

 Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Psalm: Psalm 51: 1-2, 10-17

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin. . . .

 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

O God, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

 Collect

Jesus, you are the way through the wilderness: show us your truth in which we journey, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit be in us the life that draws us to God. Amen.

(source: F.B. McNutt, The Prayer Manual)

Scripture: John 13:1-17

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table,[a] took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet,[b] but is entirely clean. And you[c] are clean, though not all of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants[d] are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation:

My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears

My grandmother puts her feet in the sink
        of the bathroom at Sears
to wash them in the ritual washing for prayer,
wudu,
because she has to pray in the store or miss
the mandatory prayer time for Muslims
She does it with great poise, balancing
herself with one plump matronly arm
against the automated hot-air hand dryer,
after having removed her support knee-highs
and laid them aside, folded in thirds,
and given me her purse and her packages to hold
so she can accomplish this august ritual
and get back to the ritual of shopping for housewares
Respectable Sears matrons shake their heads and frown
as they notice what my grandmother is doing,
an affront to American porcelain,
a contamination of American Standards
by something foreign and unhygienic
requiring civic action and possible use of disinfectant spray
They fluster about and flutter their hands and I can see
a clash of civilizations brewing in the Sears bathroom
My grandmother, though she speaks no English,
catches their meaning and her look in the mirror says,
I have washed my feet over Iznik tile in Istanbul
with water from the world’s ancient irrigation systems
I have washed my feet in the bathhouses of Damascus
over painted bowls imported from China
among the best families of Aleppo
And if you Americans knew anything
about civilization and cleanliness,
you’d make wider washbins, anyway
My grandmother knows one culture—the right one,
as do these matrons of the Middle West. For them,
my grandmother might as well have been squatting
in the mud over a rusty tin in vaguely tropical squalor,
Mexican or Middle Eastern, it doesn’t matter which,
when she lifts her well-groomed foot and puts it over the edge.
“You can’t do that,” one of the women protests,
turning to me, “Tell her she can’t do that.”
“We wash our feet five times a day,”
my grandmother declares hotly in Arabic.
“My feet are cleaner than their sink.
Worried about their sink, are they? I
should worry about my feet!”
My grandmother nudges me, “Go on, tell them.”
Standing between the door and the mirror, I can see
at multiple angles, my grandmother and the other shoppers,
all of them decent and goodhearted women, diligent
in cleanliness, grooming, and decorum
Even now my grandmother, not to be rushed,
is delicately drying her pumps with tissues from her purse
For my grandmother always wears well-turned pumps
that match her purse, I think in case someone
from one of the best families of Aleppo
should run into her—here, in front of the Kenmore display
I smile at the midwestern women
as if my grandmother has just said something lovely about them
and shrug at my grandmother as if they
had just apologized through me
No one is fooled, but I
hold the door open for everyone
and we all emerge on the sales floor
and lose ourselves in the great common ground
of housewares on markdown.
Mohja Kahf, “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears” from E-mails from Scheherazad. Copyright © 2003 by Mohja Kahf.  Reprinted by permission of University Press of Florida.
Source: E-mails from Scheherazad (University Press of Florida, 2003)

Offering Our Prayers (God, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer.)

Canticle: A Song of Our True Nature (Julian of Norwich)

Christ revealed our frailty and our falling, our trespasses and our humiliations.
Christ also revealed his blessed power, his blessed wisdom and love.
He protects us as tenderly and as sweetly when we are in greatest need;
he raises us in spirit and turns everything to glory and joy without ending.
God is the ground and the substance, the very essence of nature;
God is the true father and mother of natures.
We are all bound to God by nature, and we are all bound to God by grace.
And this grace is for all the world, because it is our precious mother, Christ.
For this fair nature was prepared by Christ for the honor and nobility of all,
and for the joy and bliss of salvation.

Benediction (From Psalm 121)

The Holy One is our keeper;
The Eternal One is our shade at our right hands.
The sun shall not strike us by day, nor the moon by night.
God will keep us from all evil; God will keep our lives.
The Holy One will keep our going out and our coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

Morning Prayer Liturgy: February 2020

Call to Worship (To be read responsively.)

 May God be with you.
And also with you.
Let us lift up our hearts.
We lift them up to our God.
Let us give thanks to God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Psalm: Psalm 67

God, may you be gracious to us and bless us
and make your face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
 5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere the Holy One.

Collect (a prayer of St. Gertrude)

Loving Jesus: Protect and sustain us with your hand. Open the door of your love that, sealed with your wisdom, we may be free to serve you with joy. Amen.

Scripture: Genesis 12:1-4a

Now God said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation:

Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
Out of the room that lets you feel secure.
Infinity is open to your sight.
Whoever you are.
With eyes that have forgotten how to see
From viewing things already too well-known,
Lift up into the dark a huge, black tree
And put it in the heavens; tall, alone.
And you have made the world and all you see.
It ripens like the words still in your mouth.
And when at last you comprehend its truth,
Then close your eyes and gently set it free.

–Rainer Maria Rilke

Offering Our Prayers (God, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer.)

Concluding Affirmation (Julian of Norwich)

“If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.”

Benediction (adapted from a prayer by Martin Luther King, Jr.)

In these days of emotional tension, when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail, know that God is with you in your going out and your coming in, in your rising up and in your lying down, in your moments of joy and in your moments of sorrow, until the day when there shall be no sunset and no dawn. Amen.

Morning Prayer Liturgy: January 2020

Call to Worship (from Psalm 96)

O sing to God a new song; sing to the Holy One, all the earth.
For great is our God and greatly to be praised.

 Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Psalm (Psalm 40:1-3, 8-11)

I waited patiently for Yahweh,
who inclined to me and heard my cry;
Who drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure;
Who put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in God.

I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O God.
I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
Do not, O Lord, withhold
your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
keep me safe forever.

Collect (by Bosco Peters)

Dancing God, you exult over us with joy;
as we celebrate what has past, renew us by your love
that we may face the future with hope and joy;
through our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever. Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation: Matthew 5:1-12, Message version

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Offering Our Prayers (God, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer.)

Concluding Affirmation (from the New Zealand Prayer Book)

You, O God, are supreme and holy.
You create our world and give us life.
Your purpose overarches everything we do.
You have always been with us.
You are God.

You, O God, are infinitely generous,
good beyond all measure.
You came to us before we came to you.
You have revealed and proved
your love for us in Jesus Christ,
who lived and died and rose again.
You are with us now.
You are God.

You, O God, are Holy Spirit.
You empower us to be your gospel in the world.
You reconcile and heal; you overcome death.
You are our God. We worship you.

Benediction 

May the blessing of the God of Abraham and Sarah, and of Jesus Christ born of our sister Mary, and of the Holy Spirit, who broods over the world as a mother over her children, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

Morning Prayer Liturgy: December 2019

Call to Worship

Hark, the glad sound! the Savior comes, / The Savior promised long;
Let every heart prepare a room, / And every voice a song.

 Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Opening Psalm (Psalm 146)

Praise God! Praise God, O my soul!
I will praise the Holy One as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in rulers, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in Yahweh their God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.
God sets the prisoners free and opens the eyes of the blind.
God lifts up those who are bowed down and loves the righteous.
God watches over the strangers and upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked God brings to ruin.
Our God will reign forever, for all generations. Praise God!

Collect

Holy One on whom we wait and who is already with us,
Let us know contentment in this season of anticipation,
Be our still center in the midst of our busyness,
Give us grace to hear your voice even as we know you hear our prayers this morning.
Amen

Scripture: Isaiah 7:10-16

Again God spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of  your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put God to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore God will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation:

Advent isn’t an escape. It’s an encounter with the time that’s deeper than our time, a time we call eternal life. It’s a discovery of a longing that’s deeper than our longing, the longing we call God’s waiting for us. It’s an experience deep down and through the bottom of our experience, a place where grief is no longer isolating but companionable, where alienating hurt becomes tender wisdom, where unfulfilled longing becomes the sculpting of a greater hole for grace.

Samuel Wells

Offering Our Prayers (God, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer.)

Canticle: Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-55)

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for you have looked with favor on the lowliness of your servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for you, O Mighty One, have done great things for me,
and holy is your name.
Your mercy is for those who fear you
from generation to generation.
You have shown strength with your arm;
you have scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
You have brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
you have filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
You have helped your servant Israel,
in remembrance of your mercy,
according to the promise you made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and Hagar and Sarah and to their descendants forever.

Benediction 

In this new day, may we breathe the Holy breath deeply and live Christ’s justice boldly.
In the long night to come, may we rest in God’s peace and protection.
Amen.