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: Pentecost Season 2021

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 Scripture: Isaiah 61:4-10

The spirit of the Holy One is upon me,
    because God has anointed me;
God has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
 to proclaim the year of God’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Holy One, to display divine glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.

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: Mark 4:26-34

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

30He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

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 the Reformed Church in America

Holy Spirit, Giver of Life:
At the beginning of time you moved over the face of the waters;
you breathe into every living being, the breath of life.
Come, Creator Spirit, and renew the whole creation.

Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus:
By your power Jesus came to bring good news to the poor
and release to those held captive.
Come, Liberating Spirit, and free us from the powers of sin and death.

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: Easter Season 2021

Call to Worship 

After nights of deep darkness, we come in the bright light of morning.
We come in search of the Living One. The Resurrected One.
We come with eyes open to the dark emptiness of the tomb.
We come with ears tuned to hear the Good News:
Christ is not here, but is risen.

Christ is risen indeed!

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: from Psalm 118

O give thanks to the Holy One, who is good;
    God’s steadfast love endures forever!

Out of my distress I called on God
    who answered me and set me in a broad place.

With the Holy One on my side I do not fear.
    What can mortals do to me?
God is my strength and my might,
    and has become my salvation.

I shall not die, but I shall live,
    and recount the deeds of my God.
 I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.

The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the chief cornerstone.
This is God’s doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Holy One has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
    you are my God, I will extol you.

O give thanks to the Holy One, who is good;
   God’s steadfast love endures forever.

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 2:1-12

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. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation from Debie Thomas

If you are bilingual, then you know that there is nothing easy about substituting one language for another.  Languages are intricate and messy.  They carry the full weight of their respective cultures, histories, psychologies, and spiritualities.  To attempt one language instead of another is to make oneself a learner, a servant, a supplicant.  It is an act of exploration and of hospitality.  To speak across barriers of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, culture, or politics is to challenge stereotypes and risk ridicule.  It is a brave and disorienting act.  A risky act.

But this is what the Holy Spirit required of Christ’s frightened disciples on the birthday of the church.  Essentially, she told them: Stop huddling in what you call safety.  Throw open your windows and doors.  Feel the pressure of my hand against your backs, pour yourselves into the streets you’ve come to fear, and speak!  Don’t you understand?  Silence is no longer an option.  You are on fire!

Offering Our Prayers 

Holy One, we give thanks to you, for you are good. Your steadfast love endures forever! Hear now our prayers of gratitude. [God of life, . . . we give you thanks.]

Out of our distress, we call to you God. [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: Lent 2021

Call to Worship (from Psalm 5)

Give ear to my words, O God;
    give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry,
        for to you I pray.
Holy One, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.

Through the abundance of your steadfast love,
   I will enter your house,
I will bow down toward your holy temple
    in awe of you.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
    make your way straight before me.

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:  from Psalm 51

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.

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: Luke 22:14-23

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15 He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. 22 For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” 23 Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation:

Offering Our Prayers

God of the journey, we dwell in your Presence through the abundance of  your steadfast love. Receive these words of joy and gratitude. (God of life . . . we give you thanks.)

God of the wilderness, in the morning we plead our case to you. Receive our prayers for those we love and for this beloved world. (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: Epiphany Season 2021

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 (source: Alcuin of York, Mass of Wisdom)

Holy Wisdom, in your loving kindness you created and restored us when we were lost: inspire us with your truth, that we may love you with our whole minds and run to you with open hearts, through Christ our Savior. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[j] “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii,[k] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation: from Amy-Jill Levine

The best explanation I have heard for the refusal of the priest and the Levite to come to the aid of the man in the ditch comes from Martin Luther King Jr., who preached: “I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible these men were afraid…. And so the first question that the priest [and] the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’… But then the good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’” King went on, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” King then went to Memphis, and it was there he was assassinated. There are bandits on the road.

Offering Our Prayers

God who puts a new song in our hearts, we offer our thanks for your steadfast love and faithfulness. [Offer prayers of gratitude with response: God of life, . . . we give you thanks.]

Holy God on whom we wait, do not withhold your mercy, but hear our prayers for ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and our world. [Offer prayers of intercession with response: 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 Hagar, 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: Advent 2020

Call to Worship (Philip Doddridge)

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!

Prayer (Charles Wesley)

Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set your people free.
Release us from our fears and our sins.
Let us find our rest in you.
You are hope of all the earth.
You are our dear desire.
You are the joy of every longing heart.

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

Meditation: from Howard Thurman

The symbol of Christmas—what is it? It is the rainbow arched over the roof of the sky when the clouds are heavy with foreboding. It is the cry of life in the newborn babe when, forced from its mother’s nest, it claims its right to live. It is the brooding Presence of the Eternal Spirit making crooked paths straight, rough places smooth, tired hearts refreshed, dead hopes stir with newness of life. It is the promise of tomorrow at the close of every day, the movement of life in defiance of death, and the assurance that love is sturdier than hate, that right is more confident than wrong, that good is more permanent than evil.

Offering Our Prayers 

Holy One, you are the joy of our longing hearts. We thank you for all that is good and gracious in our lives. [Offer prayers of gratitude with response: God of life, . . . we give you thanks.]

Holy One, we come to you for release, for rest, for hope. Receive our prayers . . . [Offer prayers of intercession with response: God, in your mercy . . . Hear our prayer.]

Canticle: Luke 1:46-55

My soul magnifies the Holy One,
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 (Luke 1:78-79)

By the tender mercy of our God,
    the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Morning Prayer: October/ November 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: Daniel 6:6-16

So the presidents and satraps conspired and came to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict, that whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict.

Daniel in the Lions’ Den

10 Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. 11 The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God. 12 Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, “O king! Did you not sign an interdict, that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions?” The king answered, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.”

14 When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed. He was determined to save Daniel, and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him. 15 Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”16 Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” 

Silent and/or Spoken Reflections

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.