Prayer and articles will be shared here from time to time.
Please click on this link 24 November 2019 if you wish to download the Candle Prayer for Peace, Hope and Justice by Athol McLaggan.
It is a privilege for me to be part of this congregation and the journey that it is on.
I thank each one of you for that shared journey and the light that it brings to my life.
We all have the ability to be the light towards those we love, be they members of our families, the congregation that we worship with, the communities in which we live as well as towards visitors from foreign lands.
Our journey of learning how to be that light comes in many ways and I recently overheard a conversation that taught me something.
That our open palms and fingertips are important receptors and givers of information.
They are our bodies antenna and especially so when extended upwards towards the cosmos.
When we are in a room and the lights go out, we extend our fingers to find our way to the place where the torch or candles are kept. Our finger tips help us find our way.
When we want to express our love to someone it the finger tips that touch, tickle and caress.
The symbol for Christian prayer and two hands joined and with our finger tips pointing upwards.
When we meditate we are encouraged to sit on the earth, with our legs crossed and our hands facing upwards.
Hindus will clasp their hands together and point their fingers toward you and say Namaste which means – I see the light within you. I acknowledge that God is in you.
You may have noticed during the recent rugby world cup that the Japanese also bring their hands together, when they greet you, as a sign of acknowledgement.
What links all of these together is the pointing of our finger upwards as a sign of respect and acceptance.
If you feel comfortable, please join me in prayer by simply turning your hands upwards, with your palms exposed and your fingertips facing upwards.
PLEASE JOIN ME IN PRAYER
LOVING GOD, we thank you for this day knowing that we cannot change what happened yesterday, that even though we may have plans, we do not know what lies before us tomorrow and that all we can do is be present to what needs to be done today.
We pray that we do so knowing that every thought, every word and every deed has the ability to bring light to those around us.
We give thanks and are grateful to you that you love and trust each one of us so much, that you give us that choice to be that light.
It is entirely up to each one of us to make that choice and that we have the choice to do so through each thought, each word and each deed – every moment of the day.
As South African we pray that we be the light to the foreigner, knowing that there is no such thing as a foreigner because you created only one race – the human race.
As adults we pray that we be the light to the children of our families, our congregation and our community. We pray that our open hands are used as instruments of tenderness and not torment towards our children.
As a man, and I call upon all men, let us be light to the women of our families, our congregation and our communities. I pray, that as men, we humble ourselves and ask forgiveness that we have created and allowed the streets of our city to be places where women are not able to walk freely, to walk safely and to walk without fear.
We, as men, are ashamed to have allowed that to happen.
We pray for the women of this congregation and acknowledge that it is always the women in our families, our congregation and communities who carry the heavier cross and despite this, are always the first to switch on the light.
We pray that we be reminded of the words of Nelson Mandela – that freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.
As Methodists we give thanks that the Synod of the Western Cape is led by a woman – Bishop Yvette Moses and that the Methodist Church of Southern Africa is also led by a woman – the Presiding Bishop Purity Malinga.
We acknowledge the bright light that both of these women represent to our congregation here at the Central Methodist Mission as well as to other Christian denomination and other religions, so that one day we will live in a world where woman are free to teach and lead in all Churches, Mosques, Synagogues and Temples.
We lift up in prayer and acknowledge the foreign women in this Sanctuary today. May they know that within this Sanctuary they are not considered foreign. May they know that our Presiding Bishop is a woman, a black woman, a woman of Africa.
As a man I respect her, I trust her and give thanks that she is my leader.
I pray that we listen to the women because they are the wise ones. It is the woman that know the truth and the woman that know how to resolve a problem.
It is the women in this Sanctuary who keep the light burning.
I pray that we remind ourselves as we sit here, with our hands turned upwards, that it was the palms of Jesus that were pierced the day he was crucified.
On that day we crucified the truth.
I pray that we remember that it was men who ordered and carried out the crucifixion of that truth and it was a woman who brought news of the resurrection of that truth.
I humbly ask that you hear our prayer. Amen
God bless Africa and all the world
Guard our children
Guide our leaders
And give us peace.
Please click on this link November 17, 2019 if you wish to download this prayer for peace, hope and justice by Rose-Anne Reynolds.
All around the world today, in many different kinds of churches and gatherings, candles will be lit for peace, justice and hope. We are already connected. We are not alone.
The barbed wire is a reminder of the pain in our lives – brought upon by our current reality, the pain of adult-made rules, regulations and restrictions which make some belong or not, which include some and exclude others. Today, let us think of what that means for our children, specifically for the children in this sanctuary and beyond its doors.
The light of this candle reminds us that God’s love which we carry within each and every one of us can light the darkness in the world.
Let us pray:
Dear God we need you to help us pay very careful attention to the children around us, and their cries of pain, their tears, their frustration and disappointment, so that as adults, the choices we make – as difficult as they are – bring back the light to the children who are harmed by our ways of being in the world.
Dear God, lover of all the world, help us resist the limitations of our human vision and hearing so that we can recognise that all children have light, that they are courageous for having to live in an adult world, where adult choices determine who they can play and learn with and where they can be. We pray that the fierce light of the candle will remind us that children are joyful, wonderful and beautiful creations, created in God’s image and so they are LOVE.
Loving God, let the light remind us that children have power, wisdom, and are resilient for they see and live in a world in a different way than we adults do. Let us LEARN from each and every child and their light, their laughter and JOY. Babies and children are precious and deserve to live in a world where light can push back fear, where light can lead, where light is love.
God, help us to remember that we were all children once and if we recognise that all children are sacred we will know we adults, are sacred too. We are all connected. We already ALL belong.
Let us pray the prayer for Africa.
God Bless Africa and all the world
Guard her children
Guide her leaders
and give us peace.
Click on this link to download Joan Proudfoot’s prayer: 2019 09 29: Candle of Peace, Hope & Justice
Recently I have found myself thinking about Jesus’ encouragement to pray for our enemies. Enemies is a very large word because it can encompass our corrupt leaders, perpetrators of violence, right down to those who fill our everyday lives who we shun and will no longer talk to. Somehow this candle of hope and justice demands that we look at this instruction to pray for our enemies… ignoring this can only undermine our ability to bring Jesus’ hope into a barbed-wired society.
Please join me in grappling with this in prayer:
Why is it, Jesus, that You encourage us to love our enemies – to pray for them? Praying for our enemies seems counter-intuitive because it feels like we are in some way condoning their actions and we are disturbed and resistant to that. We want to remove ourselves as far as possible from anything to do with people who think and behave in the way they do… we want to lock them up and place them far away from ourselves and our hearts. Yet even trying to push them out we find that they fill our minds as we ruminate on all they say and do.
And maybe, therein, lies what you are trying to teach us through asking us to pray… that we are not, in fact, so removed from our enemies. We find it easier to talk about ourselves as being of one family… Your family… when we think of the poor and disenfranchised… but in getting us to pray for our enemies you are making us aware that they, too, are our family. We cannot include the one and not the other. As we are not separate from the beauty around us, we are also not separate from that which is ugly. Praying for our enemies makes us feel our interconnectedness in a way that we can avoid most of the time… and we need to be aware of that interconnectedness, otherwise we will not be in touch with our own brokenness and our own ability to do harm. Digging deeper, we have to acknowledge that having someone else to blame means the spotlight shifts from being on us to them and we allow them to carry our darkness as well as their own.
Praying for our enemies also gets us in touch with the fact that You, Jesus, carry both our wholeness and our brokenness… all the time. Sometimes it is in our deepest places of anger and hurt that we find our conversion taking place… a conversion to Your grace, a grace that allows us to try and understand. We find even years and years after You walked amongst us we still don’t get the levels of Your loving… that Your loving holds our brokenness… whilst never, never condoning the actions that come out of it. Our minds cannot grasp such holding, such loving and yet as we pray, we acknowledge that this is what You do for us over and over, and therein lies the hope, the light of the candle… there is always hope… a hope for healing.
Let us take a minute in silence to reflect on our own individual enemies, those people we hold at a distance, those people who we grapple with… understanding that as long as we hold them at arm’s length, we cannot be free.
And so we pray… we pray because we need to pray… we pray because our family is broken… we pray because our family needs healing…
PRAYER FOR AFRICA
God bless Africa and all the world
Guard our children
Guide our leaders
And give us peace.
Please click on this link August 18, 2019 if you wish to download this prayer for peace, hope and justice by Athol McLaggan.
On 27 September 2019, the world’s best athletes will gather in Doha to partake in the IAAF sanctioned World Athletic Championships.
MOKGADI CASTER SEMENYA will not be there to defend her 800m title that she won in London in 2017.
Her life and story presents the IAAF, its president Sebastian Coe, his council, all of us and myself with a terrible bother, because Semenya challenges the status quo of categories. She cannot be changed, she cannot be controlled and she cannot be gotten rid of, simply because she represents a natural truth.
Her story is an important one for every single one of us.
Please join me in prayer in acknowledgement of Mokgadi Caster Semenya.
All loving God, creator and giver of life, we humble ourselves before you in prayer this morning –
In the knowledge that each one of us are images of you. Each one of us and not just a chosen few.
That each one of us is unique and beautifully so.
That you know each one of us, intimately.
That you love each one of us, deeply.
For all that, we give thanks.
This morning we acknowledge the unique life and story of MOKGADI CASTER SEMENYA
May she feel our love.
May she know our support.
May she accept our acknowledgment.
We give a prayer of thanks for her parents.
Her mother Dorcas and her father Jacob, who when described by their daughter she says – “they raised me well and accepted me as I was. As a young girl I had no fear”.
We pray that we may all be people like Dorcas and Jacob Semenya and treat children well, accept who they are and make them feel secure and loved, so that they grow up fearless.
I give thanks for the name that they blessed her with – MOKGADI – which in the Pedi language means THE GUIDER.
Like many South Africans we know her by her second name, which is Caster and so I lift up her given and blessed name – that of MOKGADI – in prayer and give thanks for it.
MOKGADI CASTER SEMENYA, we pray that your name will inspire us to be guided by our own truths and instincts.
We give thanks for her natural and God given talents both on the sports field and as a messenger of the truth.
We pray that her story will inspire each one of us to use our talents and speak our truths.
We give thanks for her beauty.
MOKGADI CASTER SEMENYA, you are a beautiful woman.
We give thanks for her strength.
We give thanks for her courage.
We pray that her life and story will remind each one of us that we are beautiful, that each one of us is strong and that each one of us is courageous, because HER STORY IS OUR STORY.
We give thanks for her partner, VIOLET RASEBOYA, for her support and her love.
We honour their marriage.
We give thanks that we live in a country that allows people to love and to marry freely.
MOKGADI CASTER SEMENYA, we pray that the focus remains on your battle with the IAAF and that you will continue to challenge us and myself. That you will be grated the freedom to run honestly so that your story will enable little girls and boys, born different and born talented, to know that they are our guides and not our problems.
We pray that you will continue to rattle the cages of the establishment and that you will not be changed, that you will not be controlled and that you will not be gotten rid of.
We pray that your story will inspire us to look at our own lives and that we too will not be scared of difference, either in ourselves or in others around us and that we too will not try to change, control or get rid of that difference in either ourselves or others around us.
All loving God, you made each one of us, you love each one of use. Help us to see that love in others.
You sent Jesus as a messenger of the truth and we crucified it.
The life and story of MOKGADI CASTER SEMENYA represents that truth. Let us not crucify her too.
Please click on this link August 11, 2019 (Women’s Day) if you wish to download this prayer for peace, hope and justice by Mrs Jane Lawrence.
Peace Hope And Justice Candle: Women’s Day 11 August 2019
As we continue to reflect on Women’s month –today we pay tribute to Sara Baartman a young female Khoisan who was born in 1789, who at the age of 20 was taken to England where her life was one of ridicule, her dignity denied, endured racism and suffering at the hands of colonial exploitation. Exhibited as a freak show as an attraction, forced to perform against her will. After her death at 26, her body was dissected and her brain, skeleton, and sexual organs were displayed in a Paris Museum until 1974.
A poem written in 1978 by Diana Ferrus of Khoisan descent, entitled ‘’I’ve come to take you home”, played a pivotal role in returning the remains of Baartman to be brought back to South Africa. Her remains were repatriated and buried on Woman’s Day in 2002 in the Eastern Cape.
The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and children, a refuge for survivors of domestic violence opened in Athlone in 1999.
I’ve Come To Take You Home
A tribute to Sara Baartman by Diana Ferrus
I have come to take you home, home!
- Remember the veld,
The lush green grass beneath the big oak trees?
The air is cool there and the sun does not burn.
- I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
Your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
The proteas stand in yellow and white
And the water in the stream chuckle sing-songs
As it hobbles along over little stones.
- I have come to wrench you away,|
Away from the poking eyes of the man-made monster
Who lives in the dark with his clutches of imperialism,
Who dissects your body bit by bit,
Who likens your soul to that of satan
And declares himself the ultimate God!
- I have come to soothe your heavy heart,
I offer my bosom to your weary soul
I will cover your face with the palms of my hands,
I will run my lips over lines in your neck,
I will feast my eyes on the beauty of you
And I will sing for you,
For I have come to bring you peace.
- I have come to take you home
Where the ancient mountains shout your name
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
Your blankets are covered in buchu and mint-
The proteas stand in yellow and white.
- I have come to take you home
Where I will sing for you,
For you have brought me peace,
For you have brought us peace
LET US PRAY: Loving God thank you for your all-embracing love that is present to everyone. Thank you for your love that will not let us go.
Thank you for your word that reminds us that we are all made in your image; regardless of body shape, size, language ability, race, sexual orientation, creed, culture, status.
Thank you for your loving kindness and generosity of spirit that values us, each and every one so very dearly. Remind us once again Lord that we need to treat everyone and interact with everyone with dignity. We pray too that, our bodies, our sexuality and our identity, be respected.
Suffering God; forgive our treatment of our fellow sisters and brothers; Pray for gender equality; and an end to gender-based violence; and an end to all harmful patriarchal practices that manipulate and exploit the personhood of others and pray for a masculine identity that is at peace with its being. Pray for female equality in the workplace and the eradication of all harmful practices directed at women. Pray for an end to economic inequality, discrimination and violence that continue to destroy women’s lives and that impede the creation of a just society. Pray for an end to the dehumanisation of any person.
Creator God we pray for the shaping of a new personhood, within each one of us, a new shaping of identity, where there is no discrimination on the basis of gender or race; where all are encouraged to reach their full potential. Pray for an end the increasing racial tension in all of our lives; especially in our country and the rest of the world.
God of tenderness and mercy, thank you for your word that reminds us that our sins are washed away like a dissolving mist and that you continue to heal us and to restore us and that nothing can separate us from your love.
God of justice and compassion continue to challenge us to follow the example of Jesus, help us to stay true to his way, to do good, to seek justice, to love mercy.
God you have given us a spirit of power help us to work at social justice and equality; not to be satisfied with the existing status quo; Give us confidence in your love, give us the courage of our convictions, to speak up when we see injustice, and strength to live each day as instruments of your peace hope, justice and compassion. We give thanks too for all NGO’s today, who provide healing services and empowerment to all survivors of violence especially gender-based violence.
Loving God Help us to remember that ALL human beings are worthy of your grace in their lives; that no one is to be treated as an object, neither a commodity, but that we are all very precious in your sight. And bring us home to you Lord, so that we can find peace. We pray this in Jesus precious name.
PRAYER FOR AFRICA
God bless Africa and all the world
Guard our children
Guide our leaders
And give us peace. Amen.
Please click on this link June 09, 2019 (Pentecost Sunday) if you wish to download this prayer for peace, hope and justice by Rose-Anne Reynolds.
Prayer for Peace, Hope and Justice
This week I read a headline: Child abuse on the increase … and the painful words washed over me, filling me with dread and horror, for what I know and what I don’t want to know. Our children are in a war, a war we allow because they are used as the weapons.
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, today remind us as our eyes search for the diminishing light of this candle and notice when we look carefully at the sharp penetrating barbs of the barb wire, that the words peace and justice should not begin and end with a prayer. Rather bring into sharp focus the fact that peace and justice ARE concepts that invite an enactment of hope strength and courage. Peace and Justice are actions that can propel us to into the resilience required to continue to stand up and search for that which is truth. Peace is not the absence of war, it is a radical way of living through war and disrupting the ways of the world that make war a necessary part of our existence . Peace and Justice are URGENT RESPONSES to these seemingly unending cases of child abuse that permeate every school, every community, every religion in our world. Dear God let us remember that Peace and Justice brought to us through Jesus energise, restore and bring and give life in abundance.
Mercy filled God, help us not to think we need to pretend to keep children safe. Let us stop acting like what they need is our protection. Rather what children need – what children are due – what would be respectful and bring peace and a way of living more justly is acknowledging – knowing, recognising and remembering in many different ways and possibly over and over again these truths: that children are already fully human, worthy of love , grace and radical kindness.
Ever present including, enfolding Lord help us recognise the sacredness of all children.
Let this light that withstands the darkness and the light; for dark and light are not the presence or absence of the other, remind us that:
Children ARE PRECIOUS
Children are a resource
Children give life
Children are joy
Children bring peace
For they are justice.
Pentecost 2019 06 09
Please click on this link June 09, 2019 (Pentecost Sunday) if you wish to download this prayer by Dr Alease Brown.
Jesus, we thank you.
We thank you for taking off your glory, and for coming to us and dwelling with us, and sharing the gift and burden of our humanity.
We thank you for enduring the struggles of life, and for teaching us how we might also. We thank you for your grace in giving, healing, freeing, and working miracles so that we might believe in God’s miraculous love for us.
We thank you for showing us the way to the cross; for commending it to us as your chosen path. We thank you for revealing that the powers of darkness and death have no power over we who walk in the light. We thank you for your light.
We thank you for displaying your resurrection power, for coming to us in our fear and grief that you might have gone from our lives. We thank you that you never leave us. That you have never forsaken us. That you return to us again and again, with good news of joy, and life, and peace.
We thank you for ascending to the right hand of the Father, who mothers us, and for your care and nurture of fragile souls.
We thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to us, to lead us, to help us, to remind us, to teach us, to empower us, to keep us, mark us as yours. We thank you that our spirits bear witness you’re your Spirit that we are your children. We thank you for the Holy Spirit’s work in the world. We thank you for revealing the Spirit’s presence to us in the ways that we witness loving kindness among neighbours and strangers, transgression against injustice, and resistance to oppression, and commitment to a more excellent way.
We love you, Lord. We are grateful to have been drawn into your care, to have been led into your love, to have been compelled to follow you wherever you lead us.
We pray today for more of your Spirit, more of your power, more of your grace and loving kindness. You’ve told us to ask for this day, for our needs, and our needs this day are great. We face the powers and spiritual wickedness in high places that ruthlessly dominate earth, sea and sky; that desire no end to wars and atrocities; that destroy the harmony of all life in creation. We face social division and moral bankruptcy. We face inner turmoil and despair, and the faltering of our faith that You are Great and Good enough to redeem all that has been lost, that we are loved, and good, and filled with power to lead the way to your redemption of creation.
Come Holy Spirit, we need you. Come Holy Spirit, we pray. Come in your strength and your power. Come in your own special way.
We pray for your gentle breaking of our will that wills selfishness, and for the shattering of our fear that leads to bondage and complicity with evil.
We pray for the molding of our hearts, minds, and lives into your image.
We pray for you to fill us and fill us to the brim, giving us the courage to be fully the people that you have created us to be, to do fully all the good works that you have prepared in advance for us to do, to love fully as the most excellent way of living and being in the world.
We pray that
“You empower us
to carry your flame in our hearts,
to be the fragrance, warmth,
the light [and power] of your love,
in this dark world.” –(http://www.faithandworship.com/prayers_Pentecost.htm#ixzz5qK59fiKh
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution)
As we wait and long for your glorious appearing.
Please click on this link April 21, 2019 (Resurrection Sunday) if you wish to download this prayer by Jane Lawrence.
Candle of Peace, Hope and Justice Prayer:
April 04, 2019 Resurrection Sunday
Today as we focus on our PEACE HOPE AND JUSTICE candle we remember all the pain and suffering caused by those social ills that stifle and oppress, living life to the full.
LET US PRAY
Thank you God for your faithfulness in the Resurrection of Jesus which is a powerful witness and reminder for us today that you will always be with us.
Thank you God for Jesus extravagant love for us and assuring us that none of us need ever fear death because of the gift of eternal life. Thank you for this amazing gift of love and grace.
Compassionate God, Liberate us from our preconceived ideas and assumptions of others that make our worlds so small. Free us from our toxic relationship with fear, prejudice and negativity that brings death rather than new life.
Forgiving God, We confess our complicity in the growing evil around us; we realize we can’t do everything; neither can we be everywhere.
Forgive our despair and fear for and of our country at this crucial period. Spirit of God make us bold and courageous as we consciously choose to live our lives in life-giving ways.
Loving God we know that you long to free us from all that imprisons, enslaves and the intense need to want to control, especially the future. Help us Lord to trust you, to listen to you and to become a community of hope – where we listen, support and affirm each other in making a positive difference in the world.
Ever-present and engaging God, Speak to us and remind us again today, that as Resurrection folk, we are not powerless and weak; that you have given us a Spirit of power and not timidity.
Dear Lord Jesus, we pray today for a deepening of our faith and relationship with you, as we follow your life and example, of what it means to live life to the full. We celebrate with much joy and thanksgiving this your Resurrection Day and for the opportunity to recommit ourselves with passion and love and gentleness as we serve you.
We pray this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, whose liberating presence calls us to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with you, faithful parent God.
PRAY PRAYER FOR AFRICA.
Please click on this link April 19, 2019 (Good Friday) if you wish to download this prayer by Joan Proudfoot.
Candle of Peace, Hope and Justice Prayer: Good Friday April 19, 2019
Jesus, we come today to confront death…your death. A death that speaks so much about your living…a living that was characterised by teachings and example of how life could be lived in a different way…a way, once understood, that would bring a deep freedom to all, particularly to those identified as the least in society. We experience the trajectory of the decision to kill that, to kill you, in the mess our world is in today…a world of disregard for anything that is not self-serving…a world so contrary to you.
Jesus, we come today to confront death…the death of those who have chosen to pick up your baton of truth-telling…the whistle-blowers, the journalists committed to exposing reality and the many who speak out on behalf of those who are in danger of losing their voices. Some have been killed for it…literally cut up into pieces… others have faced a more figurative death and are languishing in prisons, or have had to flee the countries they call home, or have been the recipients of hate mail and vicious threats…These and other numerous “killings” have meant their lives will never be the same again. They have lost deeply. As we honour you, we honour them too. They have followed in your way.
Jesus, we come today to confront death…the death of children who have died only because they entered a world you challenged in every moment of your living. A world that serves them toilets they can drown in, a world that orphans them by its preoccupation with war, a world that steals wealth so they cannot eat and a world that rapes and kills them because it has become so utterly, utterly sick. Forgive us…forgive us for not ensuring them life.
And lastly, Jesus, we come today to confront death…our death…our not living…knowing that as we have allowed ourselves to be captured by comfort and gain, it has always been at the expense of others and we are slowly killing them as well as ourselves.
Will you help us to turn this around and be prepared to give our lives to your way… so that we, too, can become givers of life… to others… and in so doing, maybe to ourselves as well. Amen.
On Sunday, 9 September, the Youth celebrated the Candle for Peace, Hope and Justice which we light every Sunday to reveal the light of God in the world despite the darkness we may experience. Here follows their prayer:
2018 09 09 Youth: Candle for Peace, Hope and Justice
Today we light the candle of peace, hope and justice for all the real life heroes in the world.
What is a hero, really? That is an easy question to answer. If we make a checklist there would be some obvious features that we would have to include. For one, our hero would have to be able to fly, just like Superman. We would also have to include super strength, like the Hulk, or maybe crawling up walls and shooting webs out of his hands, like Spider-Man, right? Our hero would also have to be super smart, like Iron Man, and he would definitely have to be super rich and have a really cool car, like Batman. And we can’t forgot that our hero has to have a really amazing costume, with a cape of course, otherwise how would people know that he is a super hero at all?
Now, we know that this version of a superhero is a fantasy, but deep down we all really, really want this to be true. We want Superman to hear our cries from the other side of the world and come rushing to save us, and we want Batman to fight for the justice that we deserve. Having a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man would be so awesome, especially because he just seems like such a cool guy. Wanting this reality is not such a bad thing, because, let’s face it, the world we live in needs this. But, what this fantasy does is, it convinces us that there actually aren’t any real life super heroes. Real men and women who make a difference every day. And what it really does is that it helps us to forget that we have already been saved, and that our Saviour is real.
So who are these real life super heroes, and where do we find them? Well… if you close your eyes and open them again, you’ll see a whole bunch of them. They are you and me, and everyone else. The person that values honesty and integrity above selfish desire and dishonest behaviour. The person that does for others what he or she would have done for him or herself. The person that has compassion and empathy for the lives of others. The person that brings out the best in others, and the person that is humble, not taking credit for their actions and deeds. These are all qualities of a hero, and these are all qualities that each and every one of us have. More importantly, these are all qualities that Jesus modelled to us, meaning He definitely has them too.
In an age where we are looking to TV superheroes, and believing that our saviour only exists in a comic book, we need look no further than Jesus, the one showed us the way it should be done, and the one who died so that we could be saved. We have a hero, and He has a name. Our job, then, is to go and do the same… just like the firefighters who gave their lives to save the lives of others in a building fire in Johannesburg this past week. Let us pray, then, for our real life superheroes, as they are very real and super amazing.
Lord God, we bring before you all the real life super heroes, thanking You for their existence. Thanking You, Lord, that you have inspired these heroes to rise up, that You have given them the courage and humility to do the jobs no one else wants to do. We live in a world where we are taught that we should only live for ourselves, and that putting someone else above ourselves is wrong, but You did not model this way. You taught us the exact opposite. So thank you for giving us a teaching that would allow for the real heroes to stand up.
Lord, we confess, though, that we too are supposed to be in that group of heroes. We too, are supposed to model your way. Sometimes we do, and sometimes we follow our own teachings, forgetting that it is your way that we should follow. We admit our fears, especially when it comes to being a hero. We admit that it is a scary job. And so we pray that You are always by our side. Giving us the faith, the confidence, the courage, and the bravery needed to stand up with the rest of our heroes, because Lord, we want to be your models in this world. We want for people to look at us and see You. Please help us to do this.
And then, Lord, we pray for each and every one that has given their lives to this hero cause. We pray that You continue to do your work in them, and that they continue to do the work that is needed to be done. Bless our heroes Lord. Help them to understand our gratitude. Help each and every hero understand his or her worth. And if they have passed on to a life with You, help their families to understand that we appreciate them and the work they have done, because we have real life super heroes, and we get them through You.
I pray this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, our Saviour, our Hero.
Now join me as we pray the Prayer for Africa together…
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 August 28, 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…
Jubilee in Sea Point (click on the link). An article of Alan Storey’s published in the Cape Times 6 June 2016.
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: June 05, 2016
Rev. Michelle Shrader
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: February 21, 2016
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 February 21, 2016
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.
Marriage equality, a profound matter of justice (click on the link). An article of Alan Storey’s published in the Daily Maverick on 15 July 2015.
South Africa’s uncelebrated Pentecost (click on the link). This opinion of Alan Storey’s was published in the Daily Maverick on 26 May 2015.
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.