Prayers will be shared here from time to time.
Please click on this link April 16, 2017 (Easter) if you wish to download the prayer.
Prayer: Sunday April 16, 2017
The Fullness of Life
Rev. Michelle Shrader
Easter Morning, 2017
As the sun rises this Easter Morning,
Hope breaks forth like rays of the Sun.
The light reaches crescendo, the sea
waves–and we hear the Earth whisper,
“peace be still,” the trees bow in holy
adoration. The Mountains stand at
attention and then it happens, God’s
Holy Breath, is released unto the world.
The fullness of life, The fullness of life,
The fullness of life is Risen, The
Fullness of life is Risen indeed. There
Is no more need to cower in fear, for
Perfect love walked among us in order
that the reign of fear might be cast out.
There is no more need to keep things
to ourselves, for abundant love taught
us when we live in togetherness as
children of God there is always enough.
There is no need to react to threat
with violence, for courageous love
proved to us that there is strength in
gentleness. The fullness of life, The
fullness of life, The fullness of life is
Risen, The fullness of life is Risen
Indeed! Light shines in the Darkness
and the Darkness is not enough to
overcome it. O Children of God, let
your beautiful feet tred softly, tred
softly across all the Earth. Live in the
truth, let the poor hear the good news.
Live in the truth, let those imprisoned
Hear the news of their freedom. Live
In the truth. Let those who are blind
Now see. Live in the truth, may those
who are living under the threat of
oppression witness the great untangling
of the barbed wire systems. The fullness of
life, The fullness of Life, the fullness of
life has risen, The fullness of life has
risen indeed. Breathe the great
breath of life in, be awakened, and
Please click on this link August 28, 2016 if you wish to download the prayer.
Prayer: Sunday 28 August 2016
Living God – center and circumference of all that is – we gather to express our joy that you saturate and surround all of life … we gather to be reminded that you saturate and surround our lives making them beloved. We gather to declare that we live and move and have our being in you. That nothing can separate us from you.
That nothing can separate us from your forgiving love.
Your forgiving love enfleshed by Jesus … crucified by the religious as a rogue rabbi.
Your forgiving love set lose by the untamable Holy Spirit.
Your forgiving love that is breath of our breath.
Your forgiving love that pursues us even as it holds us.
Your forgiving love that resists our resistance of your forgiveness.
Your forgiving love that refuses to be hardened by our hardness of heart.
Your forgiving love that even gives us the freedom not to love you – though it causes you immeasurable anguish.
Your forgiving love that doesn’t have to ever decide to forgive us because your love by its very nature is forgiving.
And your forgiving love that longs for us to know that we are forever forgiven and grieves when we don’t.
In fact Lord, is this not what grieves you the most – our ignorance or blatant rejection of your forgiving love? Is this not our gravest sin? Our deadliest sin? To deny your forgiving love? To imagine that our lives exist beyond your forgiving reach or alternatively that our lives are without need of your forgiving hold. And is our inability or refusal to accept your forgiving love not the source of so much more that grieves you?
That when we fail to realise our lives and living are saturated and surrounded by your forgiving love we grow anxious – anxious about our worth – and out of this anxiety we birth so much death. For you know living God how when we doubt our priceless worth we seek to secure it in ways that often demean the priceless worth of others.
When we are anxious and insecure – we push others down in order to lift ourselves up.
We blame others instead of taking responsibility ourselves.
When we feel broken we cut others to pieces.
To make up for the lack we have inside of ourselves we acquire more and more stuff to prop up the outside of our life … And then trying to protect all this stuff makes us even more anxious and threatened.
Failing to realise we are permanently carved on your loving palm we carve out images of ourselves that are based on the fashionable definitions of success and when they change we are caught in the constant spiral of having to prove ourselves. The goal posts of a fulfilled life keep moving – ever escaping our reach. Lord no wonder we get tired.
Lord when we fail to take your forgiving love as the true north of our living we spin around aimlessly becoming dizzy and directionless. No wonder we spend much of our life feeling lost.
Lord in this moment gift us with the realisation that our rejection of your forgiving love is already forgiven. Overwhelm us with the good news that this forgiveness is the result of your grace – your gift of undeserving love that we are incapable of manufacturing or manipulating and powerless to destroy.
Set us free from the desire to pay for your gift of freedom.
Release us from the need to punish ourselves.
Instead open our hearts to welcome your forgiveness. To offer it hospitality … that your forgiving love may have a permanent seat around the table of our living.
For this we ask in Jesus’ name who loved to eat with sinners. Amen.
Please click on this link July 17, 2016 if you wish to download the prayer.
Prayer: July 17, 2016
Utterly, utterly loving God we gather to celebrate your love:
Your love that is woven into the fabric of the universe that we inhabit,
Your love that punctuates the night with meaning and the day with delight,
Your love that is known by many names and millions of unnamed knowings,
Your love that searches for us when we have wandered far down the tunnels of despair,
Your love that finds us when we are lost to ourselves … when we don’t know who we are anymore,
Your love that reaches out to us when the arms of our own love cannot embrace you or any other,
Your love that joins us when our lives are hand-cuffed to a past we long to leave behind,
Your love that holds us together from the inside without us even knowing we are held,
Your love that rejoices in our presence when we have lost all sense of our own beauty,
Your love that connects us to others who are equally in need of love, reminding us that our need is not only to be loved but also to love. And yet even though we have this need to love we struggle to honour it. We struggle to live it.
Utterly loving God, as we celebrate your love, we trust you to hear and hold our confession regarding our struggle to love…
We have struggled to love in more ways than we can fully fathom and others are hurt because of it. Today there are people who are hurting because of the things we have done or not done – the things we have said or not said. So they are probably in a better position than us to confess our sins because they carry the scars from them. Even so we share a sample of where we struggled to live life lovingly:
We confess that we have ignored people – sometimes purposefully and sometimes not but either way we have caused some to feel invisible – as if they don’t exist – as if they shouldn’t exist.
We have cut people off mid-sentence, undermining their contribution and causing them to think twice about sharing themselves with others again.
We have laughed and mocked when we needed to be serious and we have been dead-pan when we needed to be joyfully engaged.
Our facial expressions have skillfully communicated condemnation and the tiniest of condescending smirks have sent others into a self-doubting silence.
We have rushed past people. Failing to listen with openness and attentiveness. And when we have heard the words spoken we have not always felt the feelings within the words. We make quick assumptions and jump to false conclusions. We secretly think we alone are right and sometimes not so secretly. We prefer the sound of our own voice.
And when we speak we shave the edge off the truth – a little bit here and a little bit there depending on whom we are with. We do so because we fear the truth will not win us the approval we so desire. We lie – more often than not – not in what we say but in what we leave unsaid. We think it is harmless because how will anyone know … and yet it manifests within us as sadness and rage.
We live in our heads – obsessively preoccupied with our own lives unable to meaningfully engage the pain of the world around us – pain embodied by people who are considered by the dominant order to be different and dangerous.
We know these things about ourselves and yet we struggle to self-correct ourselves. Even the things about ourselves we resent we struggle to remove. And often when we try we end up tying ourselves in self-righteous knots. So, utterly, utterly loving God we gather here to bear witness to your love that is ever present within our struggle to love.
And we gather in trust that your love holds us even as we struggle to love … and that somehow – we know not how – your loving hold on us will heal us and ultimately transform us into your loving ways. So be it…
Please click on this link 40th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women if you wish to download the prayer.
The Candle Prayer for Peace, Hope and Justice: 2016 June, 05
The Candle Prayer for Peace, Hope and Justice that Rev. Michelle Shrader prayed this past Sunday has touched the hearts of many.
Peace Candle on the 40th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the opening up of ordination to women. The Manyano gave each of the women living out the call to ordained ministry in this district a beautiful red stole. Gifts were extended in abundance and the Bishop of the Cape of Good Hope District got down on one knee pleading for the women to forgive for all the ways men have hindered our ability to serve or allowed us to walk alone.
Words were spoken, “We forgive Bishop, but waiting on the next step—the move to repent.”
I have to share that I am incredibly honored to stand with the women in the Cape of Good Hope District as one ordained and serving in solidarity with, but felt this morning you might be interested in hearing some of the things that still go on for women who are called by God.
Here are the stories collected from the women of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa—Cape of Good Hope District:
A male colleague serving as a visiting preacher for me came into my church said I was avoiding him, put his head in my bosom, held on tight, and later said he was joking around. My choir saw the whole thing and took his side.
The uncertainty of an appointment in a connectional system where too many congregations still struggle with female clergy.
A female Superintendent arrived at an Easter gathering and was not allowed to sit with her male colleagues. She was ushered to a space all by herself and fetched later at a more appropriate time by a male lay leader.
It is so hard, for we can’t just be ourselves, we have to always be proving ourselves.
A male colleague placing both hands on me as if I were a piece of furniture or a small child and moving me around till I was standing just where he wanted me with the entire congregation’s eyes fixed on the scene.
Serving communion while pregnant and a member refusing to receive naming I was unclean.
Many shared on assumptions made: If you don’t introduce your male pastor as handsome, why are we always introduced as beautiful? If you don’t kiss your male minister square on the lips, why would you think it is okay to do so with your female minister? If you don’t tell your male minister what to wear or how to cut his hair, why would you with your female minister?
All of the women agreed that they have received the most pain not from men, but from the women in their midst. The umbrella of patriarchy has caught women in ways they often don’t see. “There is only one pastor” and they will be referring to the man. Women will degrade rather than uplift.
These are the named struggles from the women in this district, so we celebrate the 40th anniversary of a door opening to women for ordination and pray for the door to open wider and wider for them to be full participants in the ministry that God has called them to. O Lord, hear our prayer…
Holy Spirit of God,
The words in the bible, “for a time such as this” were for Esther called to stand in courage. The words, “Give me a drink” were spoken by Jesus to an unnamed Samaritan woman at a well who later would draw people to the well that never runs dry with the words “come and see.” The words “where you go, I go” were spoken between Ruth and Naomi—who teach women how to stand in solidarity. The words “Let it be” were lifted into the air by Mary as she accepted the role of bringing into the world the way that leads to life eternal.
We thank you this morning for the gift of feminine voices that teach us how to find our way to you and the way that leads to life. We wrestle with the fact that a door opened 40 years ago, is a door today that still needs to be opened more fully. Rise up within your people O God the ability to hear, see, and live into the new ways you will be opening up before us. Let the voices of women be heard, let them be honored, and let room be made for them among the men in order that your people O God might receive a fuller blessing.
We thank you for the men who have courage to lead, creating space for women to share in ministry and to speak out in the moments when women are being silenced—not heard—dishonored–degraded.
Forgive us for the ways we fail to live in unity and open the door wider and wider O God to the new day where all those, called to ordained ministry—all–can stand together and be received. The heavens await the sound of varied voices lifting up your glory O God, deliver us to that day.
It is in the name
of the Almighty and Everlasting God,
Jesus the Christ
and the Holy Spirit that I pray
Please click on this link February 21, 2016 if you wish to download the prayer.
Prayer: 2016 February, 21
Living God – full of grace and truth we gather to celebrate your goodness today. We gather to remember how in the beginning before any of us were – you formed us lovingly from the dust of the earth – and filled our innermost parts with the breath of your love – ensuring that when we love, we live out our original calling and when we fail to love, we divide and fragment from within. No wonder our hearts constantly speak to us – saying that we should seek your face because they know we will have no rest until we sit with you face to face.
We gather to remember that you provided for us with Eden-abundance, willing us to live humbly in harmony with the creation that sustains us. We marvel at the interconnectedness of the web of life. How we are dependent on the work of the worms and bees for our nourishment. And how nature selflessly offers herself for our wellbeing yet we struggle to contain our desire for more – so in refusing to live within sustainable limits we bring death on ourselves and the environment on which we depend.
We gather to remember that you entered into covenant with us. Promising to be faithful and true until death joins us as one. Promising to neither sleep nor slumber but to always have our back. Promising to be our lover, passionate and intimate. Promising to be our parent – guiding and caring. Promising to be our refuge – strong and dependable. Promising to be our defense advocate – tenacious and wily. Promising to be our shade in the heat of the day and our rock when the sand of our living begins to shift. You have been all these things and more – yet we have scarcely been attentive, never mind appreciative. It is as if we are asleep – living in a state of numb unawareness – oblivious to what truly sustains us.
We gather to remember your instructions for living: That none of us are self-made people and all of us are to have you as our first loyalty; That when we put others first it is the best thing for ourselves; that work without Sabbath rest is silly; that if we are generous we will always have enough; that if we are truthful we will always be free; that when we are gentle we are guaranteed to conquer even the most vicious of enemies; that when we are merciful we ourselves will experience the joyful gift of mercy; that when we hunger for justice the world will be more healthily nourished; that when we love we cast out the fear that robs us of life. We have not trusted you enough to follow these instructions – they seem crazy to consider in the real world we live in – and yet all the alternatives have not helped to untangle us from our multitudes of mess.
We gather to remember what it means to be human – fully human like Jesus your revealer. That when the foundation of our life is knowing we are loved and accepted by you we can freely risk to embrace vulnerability – our vulnerability; to give up the need to guard ourselves from the fear of rejection – to risk discovering and living out our true selves – to risk making your ways the only ways we give our lives to and to risk living life without the fear of death. We have preferred to focus on Jesus’ divinity – stressing his difference from us and so letting us off the hook to follow his example.
Gracious God we gather today with much expectation and with much to remember. Come and surprise us in ways we cannot even articulate. Come and do something in us and to us that will gift us with the abundance of the life Jesus promised.
Please click on this link February 21, 2016 – Candle Prayer for Peace, Hope and Justice if you wish to download the prayer
Prayer: Candle for Peace, Hope & Justice 2016 February, 21
Jesus you spent much of your public life in trouble. In trouble because you stood in solidarity with the marginalised and vulnerable – those treated as less-than. In trouble with the people who defended the status quo because they benefitted from the privilege and power that came with it. Give us your courage to do the same. Give us your peace of heart when how we live disturbs the peace.
Jesus we remember that what put people in a rage against you was each time you wanted to include the outsider. Each time you wanted to make the circle bigger. Each time you mentioned the ones who were not present. Each time you crossed over to the other side to touch, enjoy, welcome and unite.
Jesus we remember when you lost your temper in the temple. When you were angry that people were being excluded and exploited and you would have none of it. You spoke of the temple as a place for all and you were determined to turn over the tables until all were welcome.
Forgive us for not being enraged at the continued exclusion and exploitation of people. And forgive us for being angry at the anger of those who are enraged. And forgive us that when we are actually ever angry it is usually to protest a grievance committed against ourselves and not the vulnerability of others and even then our anger spills over into destructive behaviour.
We pray for this land O Lord, that is the most unequal in the world – which means it is the least Christian in the world – and we pray that you fill us with anger at injustice even as you fill us with mercy in the way we express that anger. Fill us with imagination to protest in ways that reveal the injustice without perpetuating it. Help us to channel our anger in ways that facilitate transformation and healing as it stands firm against that which is not of you.
Give us courage to be bold.
Give us humility to listen.
Give us faith to persevere.
Give us wisdom to break deadlocks.
Give us patience and urgency at the same time.
Please click on this link February 14, 2016 if you wish to download the prayer.
Sunday Prayer, February 14, 2016
Living God – full of grace and full of truth – on this Sabbath day we pause to acknowledge you and honour you.
We gather to confess with our lips that you are Lord.
We confess that you are loving in every way and that your love is without measure.
We confess that we love only because you first loved us.
We confess that you love all – all people – including each one of us.
We confess that this love for us is complete – totally and utterly complete.
We confess that there is nothing we can do to make you love us anymore and we confess that there is nothing we can do to make you love us any less.
We gather to proclaim this miraculous mystery, even as we struggle to understand it ourselves.
It is difficult to get our head around the fact that, that which we need most in our life is a free gift that cannot be manufactured, or manipulated or merited by us in any way.
Lord this is so counter-cultural it is nearly impossible for us to trust to be true – and so even as we reach out to receive it we find ourselves denying it and fighting it. Like others before us, we believe, but help our unbelief.
Lord we meet during these early Lenten days freshly reminded that we are dust and to dust we will return. That our lives are not ours to do with as we please – but since you breathed your very self into the dust of our being we have the sacred responsibility and privilege of sheltering and honouring your holy presence within us.
Lord we confess that we fail to treasure your holy presence in ourselves and revere it in others.
Guilt and shame blind us to your presence within our own lives as fear and prejudice blind us to your presence in the lives of others.
In our blindness we do terrible things to others and to ourselves. We ignore, we take for granted, we exploit, we reject, we hurt, we belittle, we betray, we feel numb towards and destroy. Forgive us father for we do not know what we are doing. We do not know what we are doing because we have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten that we are your beloved children – precious to behold and as a people we have forgotten that we are one family who share your identical image at our core.
Lord as you breathed life into that original dirt breathe again in our lives especially when the dirt of our sin – the things that rob us and the world of life – cling to us.
Fill us with hope in your transformative power – that you are the God who brought life out of nothing – so that when we feel as good as nothing we will be reminded that you have all you need to resurrect us to new life – to the way of life that Jesus invites us to when he says: “Follow me.”
Before we return to dust set us free with renewed urgency to live for your praise and glory. Before we return to dust give us courage to be more honest with ourselves and more truthful with others.
Before we return to dust release us from the stranglehold of our possessions to risk greater generosity. Before we return to dust free our hearts to love more vulnerably. Before we return to dust open our eyes to the preciousness of the person sitting next to us.
Please click on this link January 17, 2016 if you wish to download the prayer.
Sunday Prayer, January 17, 2016
Ever-present God we worship you.
For your constant companionship we praise you.
We praise you that there is no God-forsaken place.
We praise you that there is no God-forsaken person.
You are with us – each of us – all of us.
If we move to the left or right – you are there.
If we fall in disgrace or despair – you are there.
If we rise with joy and jubilation – you are there.
If we make the journey into the depths of our inner most parts – the murkiest of parts – even there we find you – and we find you patient in love and persistent in grace.
Truly there is no place where you are not and such knowledge is too wonderful for us to fully comprehend.
Though you are ever present and ever mindful of us, we are not so mindful of you. This we confess. Too often we are so wrapped up in our own lives that you are only an afterthought – after we bump into some tragedy or other and the wheels comes off; when our health fails or our relationships disintegrate; when our money ends before the month does or when the clouds of life threaten to swallow us without warning.
If we honest Lord, much of the chaos in our lives is due to our forgetfulness of you and your ways. When we are so wrapped up within ourselves our ego trips us up time and time again. When we forget you our priorities narrow and it is not long before…
and groundless fears
fill our thoughts
twist our conversations
and direct our deeds.
And it is not long before we have tied ourselves in untie-able knots.
And for this reason we come here week after week Lord to be reminded of a different way to live life – a way of life exampled to us by Jesus – a way of doing life that liberates us from our ego driven agenda. A way of life that rests in the certainty that we are accepted completely by you so we don’t have to waste time trying to perform and impress the people around us – as if our well-being rested in what others think of us.
By your Holy Spirit awaken us to the Jesus way of doing life today – that our lives may also bring life as his did. That our lives may also bring hope and healing as his did. That our lives offer welcome and nourishment as his did.
By your spirit help us to believe that our living can in fact imitate the living ways of Jesus. Untie the knots we have tied ourselves in and set us free from the patterns of behaviour that prevent us from following Jesus. Re-pattern our lives to remember you constantly. From the first thing we do in the morning to the last thing we do at night let us be grounded in the knowledge of your presence.
Please click on this link Candle for Peace, Hope & Justice: Sunday January 17, 2016 if you wish to download the prayer.
Candle for Peace, Hope & Justice: Sunday January 17, 2016
Last time I shared in this church I touched on my bourgeoning faith through the application of the 12 steps. As a recovering addict, I am encouraged to seek a relationship with a higher power, which in my opinion has saved my life. This is but one of five pillars of the programme. The other four are meetings, step work, sponsor and service.
The primary purpose of the programme is to help the still suffering addict. There’s a saying in the recovery community: Service keeps you clean.
The 12th step states that having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we try to carry this message to the still suffering addict and practice these principles in all our affairs.
For me, service began in the meetings. 12 step meetings are surprisingly well organised. Apart from the chairperson, there’s a treasurer, a group representative, tea and coffee person, secretary, a librarian. There are business meetings at the end of the month where members vote in a new group of servers. I was initially surprised by how much work went on behind the scenes, and how members were only too happy to put in the extra time and effort to keep the doors open.
In early recovery I helped pack chairs at the end of meetings. I took on the tea and coffee position, talked to the newcomers. As the months progressed I began to see the benefits of giving back to the recovery community. I had responsibility, albeit menial at times. I was held accountable and it kept me coming back. Even Sharing at meetings is service, giving hope to the newcomer, who is of the utmost importance in any meeting. I began to have a sense of belonging; my actions were noticed and appreciated. Giving back kept me out of my head and away from my self-centred obsessions. No matter how small the service, I was making a difference. By helping others to stay clean, I began to grow spiritually.
Although service within the programme is all well and good, I need to carry this principle into all areas of my life. Before I came into recovery, service to others meant martyrdom. I put others needs ahead of my own for all the wrong reasons. If I was used, it was because I was needed and if I was needed, I wouldn’t be abandoned.
I now appreciate I can only extend myself to care for others if I have taken care of myself first. Self-care has taken on a whole new meaning in recovery. I have learned healthy ways to look after my physical and emotional needs. I now love and respect myself. I’ve forgiven myself and have compassion where there was self-loathing. It’s from this place that I can wholeheartedly be of service to others. I can be a shoulder to cry on for a friend in need, I get involved in charity work, or share my experience, strength and hope with a sponsor.
My whole outlook on life has changed through this process of recovery. I don’t feel used, I feel useful. To give is to get. I am passionate about carrying the message of the life-changing and lifesaving power of the Twelve Steps. I have the chance to give back what was freely given to me. Service has kept me clean, but in more ways than one. Not only have I not had a drink or drug for over four years, I have a sense of serenity that comes from doing the next right thing for the right reason. I can recognise my spiritual growth when I am able to help others, granting me a higher purpose. I believe my higher power helps me grow when I give back. Today I realise what they say is true “we keep what we have only by giving it away.”
The serenity prayer is chanted at every meeting, and I’d like to finish with what I call the coda serenity prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change,
courage to change the people I can
and wisdom to know it’s me.
Please click on this link Good Friday Prayer, April 03, 2015 if you wish to download the prayer.
Good Friday Prayer, April 03, 2015
Living God we meet with you today so mindful of your love and so mindful of your pain. Out of your love the cosmos was birthed – in pain you witness our desecration of your creation. Out of your love every creature great and small was formed – in pain you witness the thoughtless and selfish extinction of many. Out of your love you fixed your beautiful image in each one of us – in pain you witness the denial of human sacredness through exclusion and exploitation. Out of your love you gave us freedom to choose life or to choose death; to choose love or to choose fear. In your love you pleaded with us to choose life and love. You sent messengers to us to help us – guide us – challenge us and woo us to your ways and in pain you watched us walk away – you witnessed us close our ears and slam shut the doors of our hearts. In your love you responded to our stubbornness by coming to us yourself – in the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth – to unstop our ears so we might hear firsthand of your forgiveness and open our eyes that we may see with our own eyes your endless grace at work in the world – to unlock our hearts that they may be filled with love as you had designed. And yet ignorantly and fearfully we turned away from what we desired and needed the most … in pain you witnessed us reject the cornerstone without which we could not stand – we could only fall.
We loved the good news of Jesus – we loved hearing we were forgiven – that we were clean and free to enter your presence rejoicing. We loved it when he touched us – healing us to the depths of our soul. We loved being told that we were beloved children of you O God. And if Jesus had just kept it to that we would have honoured him appropriately, but he didn’t.
What we didn’t appreciate was that all the good news that he shared with us he offered to everyone else too – even our sworn enemies – the Romans and Samaritans … the gentiles and those who lived immoral lives – lives even clearly condemned in Holy Scripture. He made us equal to everyone else – we were no longer the special chosen we believed we were – or at least now everyone was the special chosen which meant that we weren’t more special. Pointing to the ground once, Jesus said he could create children of Abraham out of stones and when we wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery as the Bible commands he told us to put down our stones – not so subtly saying that we were the sinners. Fancy calling us sinners – when we were the only ones following your word.
Though we admired Jesus to begin with – we found him a great disappointment in the end. Everything we had hoped for he seemed to turn on its head. It wasn’t long before we agreed he was mad, possessed with an evil spirit – after all who says things like “pay the last first and pay the first last”; who says things like “love your enemies”; or “blessed are those who are poor and gentle and who grieve” – everyone knows they are the cursed. Jesus said, for us to be great we must be the servant of all … but we were waiting for our turn to be served. So when we heard of plans to get rid of him we understood why. It was because he was messing life up as we knew it – as we believed life was ordained by you to be – we did not step up to protect him – we did not speak up to challenge the trumped up charges against him – after all he had let us down – he had betrayed our dreams – so he was killed and we were part of it … and yet you still refused to forsake us even though we had forsaken you.
Today O God we want to acknowledge your pain – your pain held in your love for us – your pain the result of us refusing to accept your embracing love. Your pain from us accusing you of not loving us when in actual fact you loved us more than we could imagine or accept. Your pain of helplessness in knowing that your love was what we needed more than anything else and yet because you loved us you would not force it on us … and all this while we accused you of not loving us. This pierced more than your hands and feet – it pierced your heart.
We dare only to ask for forgiveness because you have said that we are already forgiven. That you have already removed our sin from us as far as the East is from the West. And therefore we come with confidence today because you have said to us that there is nothing that can separate us from your love that Jesus lived to share and died to share even more.
Living God set us free to trust Jesus as your word of forgiving and healing love for the world. To trust him in his dying especially since his death is because we did not trust him in his living.
Amen – so be it.
Please click on this link Palm Sunday Prayer March 29, 2015 if you wish to download the prayer.
Palm Sunday Prayer March 29, 2015
Living Lord, forever faithful we worship you.
With your word the cosmos was spoken into being.
With your breath we were filled with your life-giving spirit.
With your voice we are called to follow in your ways that lead to abundant life.
Living Lord, forever faithful we raise our voices in your honour.
With our words we celebrate your word.
You have always been true to your word.
You said right in the beginning that you were our God and that we were your people – and you stand by what you have said.
You married your creation for richer or poorer and in sickness or in health. Though we have been unfaithful, though we have repeatedly walked out on you – you have never filed for divorce. Even though we often refuse to answer when you call – you never give us silent treatment in return. Because you are aware that we cannot sustain ourselves.
Because you know we are totally dependent on you … that we live and move and have our being in you – and that if you were to withdraw from us we would return to nothing … because you know all this, you take pity on us and for that reason your steadfast love endures forever. And for that reason we sing your praises.
Lord today we pray for more than your steadfast love to enfold us with forgiveness; but for your steadfast love to empower us to change. It is terrible to pray for forgiveness while at the same time sensing that we are just going to be in the same position tomorrow – it feels so defeatist to even pray. Of course we want the freedom that comes with knowing that we are forgiven but we need more than that. We need the power to be truly delivered from our sin. And we are not just talking about things we say and do … we are talking about the deeper direction of our life that is difficult to put into words. The direction of our life, when left to its own devices, has its own autopilot called self-interest and self-deceit. We need your power to take the controls of our lives and re-direct them so that we journey in a manner that glorifies your name. We desire your glory to become our heart-felt desire, our soul-driven passion. Replace our desire to have you serve us with the greater desire for us to serve you. And this really is near the root of things Lord … the difficult truth for us to face and especially to verbalise is for us to admit that so, so much of our being is wrapped up in selfishness. And like a computer virus it attaches itself to every file of our lives contaminating every action we perform and quite often without us being aware of it. That is what we need you to deal with. Pull our sin out at the roots – don’t leave a stump in the ground that can simply grow again.
Living God, we ask this trusting in your power to set us free from everything that prevents us from following Jesus. Give to us the same mind that is in Christ Jesus that we too may do justice, love mercy and walk humbly in your presence.
Lord, glorify your name. Amen.
Please click on this link Prayers March 22, 2015 if you wish to download the prayer.
Prayer March 22, 2015
Merciful God, source of life, light and love.
We celebrate you today.
We celebrate your faithfulness through the ages – from the beginning when nothing was, you were there working in love, by love and for love.
Out of your love the cosmos exploded into being. Out of your love this planet became beautifully habitable. Out of your love we were created with the longings and dreams of your own heart. Out of your love you call us into a way of living life that enables life to flourish within us and around us.
A way of life that is gentle and generous. A way of life that is truthful and humble. A way of life that is gained when given away in compassionate service of others. A way of life that is childlike in simplicity and wise as serpents. A way of life that honours the poor and marginalised and challenges the powerful and privileged. A way of life that loves our enemies and forgives those who have hurt us.
A way of life we confess we have struggled to follow, for your ways are not our ways. A way of life we battle to trust because it feels so counter intuitive to what we have been taught is prudent and practical. A way of life that we betray when our cultural and national identity receives our higher allegiance. A way of life that we deny when we bow to our fears and pay homage to our prejudice. A way of life we destroy when we continue to begrudge our enemies.
Yet out of your love you not only call us into this unique way of living – you sent Jesus to show us the way – to be the way – and to find us when we have lost our way. And we have lost our way. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have been better at ignoring the suffering of our neighbour than we have been at responding in loving kindness. We have spoken more than we have listened, and much of our conversation has added more noise than light. We have assumed before we have asked. We have hurt others because we have been in a rush – often without even knowing that we have done so. We have written people off thinking that they will never change, denying the grace you have given to us.
According to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out our transgressions…
Thank you for Jesus who washes not only our feet but our iniquity with his mercy. Thank you for how he touches our transgressions without condemnation and judgement. Reach deep into our hearts to scrub them clean for they are beyond our reach. Break them open even if we complain, because we trust that a broken and contrite heart you will not despise. Put the Spirit of Jesus within us that our lives be more sensitive to his ways. Restore our joy and sustain us with your Spirit that prays within us and waters our willingness to be faithful.
Now open our lips Lord and we will declare your praise. Amen.
Please click on this link Prayer March 15, 2015 if you wish to download the prayer.
Prayers: March 15, 2015
Living God source of life, receive our breath as our praise.
We breathe-in your grace and we breathe-out our gratitude.
Grace and gratitude. Grace and gratitude.
We breathe because you have first breathed into us.
Yours is the creative breath that hovered over the formless void drawing creation from the chaos.
Yours is the liberating breath that held up the waters enabling slaves to secure freedom on dry ground.
Yours is the inspiring breath that spoke courage into the heart of a trembling prophet with a silent whisper.
Yours is the comforting breath that covered the distressed and grief stricken disciples with peace.
We know this to be true not only from the testimony of the scriptures but from the experience of our own lives:
When we have made a mess of our lives – we give thanks for how you are able to take our chaos and make something meaningful out of it and even beautiful.
When we find ourselves captive – locked in behind the bars of bitterness or resentment; denial or despair; prejudice or pride; grief or fear you break-in to be with us until we are able to trust that your mercy has already unlocked our prison.
When we compromise our integrity we thank you for whispering the truth to us fanning our conscience into flame once again.
When we are lost in loss. When our own breath is weak, we thank you for breathing over us in ways that resurrect us filling us with hope again.
All this you do without charge. But not without cost.
Remind us Lord that it cost Jesus his life.
Remind us that though we longed for the light we loved the darkness too much to let it go.
Remind us that we needed to be rescued.
Remind us that Jesus would stop at nothing until we were free and that not even the threat of death could distract him from this liberating work you set him.
Remind us that we are somehow complicit in Jesus’ killing. Help us to see that it wasn’t just someone else at some other time who was responsible, but that it is each of us. That the evil we do and the good we do not do are not without divine consequence. Give us insight into how this is so. Introduce us to Judas within us – for where we forsake Jesus for money. Introduce us to Peter within us – for when we deny Jesus for fear. Introduce us to Pilate within us – for when we have Jesus whipped to please the crowd. Introduce us to the hammer and nail carrying soldiers within us – when we simply follow orders without question.
Help us to see that we are not innocent.
Fill us not so much with guilt as with grief. Help us to see that the pathways of our sin are death – within us and around us. Open our eyes to see the extent of the death that we are responsible for. Give us not only the desire but the means to turn towards your ways that lead to life in all its fullness.
Come and roll the stone away that prevents us from living faithfully – for we don’t have the strength to do so. Breathe on us until we come alive for you in all things. Address us with your peace that restores our relationship with you. Call us now to follow you as you did in the beginning, reminding us that we still can.