Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19, 2010 - Prayers of the People

Eternal God, thank you.

Thank you for our LORD Jesus Christ and for the church, and for the millions of people who have walked the pathways of faith, who have held high the light of hope for a sin-darkened world, and endured suffering for the sake of the gospel.
We’re encouraged in the light of their witness, O God.
Encouraged to be steadfast in the things of faith.
To do the best we can.
To love deeply, to forgive quickly, and to be with one another in the fellowship of the church.
To make the church good … to make it pure in its vision and purpose … 
And courageous in its witness …
Holding before the world the rich alternative of your kingdom.
A kingdom of light and peace.

Father in heaven, we thank you for our jobs.
We thank you for those who work for us, and we thank you for those under whom we work.
Help us to be faithful in our work …
To bring high value to our tasks …
To labor with Christ in our hands and in our feet.
That we might be swift to the demands of our work.
And kindly in our dealings with all.
Applying ourselves with creativity and energy.
Conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of Christ himself.

We pray, O God, for friends and family.
Some who grieve the loss of loved ones.
Others who battle illness.
Some are out of work and looking.
Some work in hard places.

We pray for the spiritually confused.
Folks who wander from one truth to another, forever looking and never finding.
Be merciful to them, we pray, and when the time is right, reveal to them the glory of Christ and bring them to yourself.

We pray for the hard-of-heart.
Those who have steeled their souls to your tender mercies and the power of the gospel.
Those who are lost within degraded values and mindless self-interest.
Be merciful to them in their rebellion, we pray, and as the years wear on, wear them down, until they come to their senses and lay down their arms and surrender to you, dear God … returning home to where we all belong … your love, O God, and the kingdom of heaven.

Bless us, we pray, in the remains of the day.
Bless our worship and imprint upon us the glory of Christ.
Plant deep within our minds his life-giving word.
And put us to sleep tonight with a sense that we have touched the hem of his robe and heard choirs of angels singing your glory.

All of this, in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven …

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Prayer - Centering Ourselves in Christ

Advent Prayer – Centering Ourselves in Christ

Teach us, we pray, to walk with Christ more intently and more easily.
To walk with him in the ways of our lives.
In the best of times and in the worst.
When laughter comes quickly and when tears flow deeply.

Teach us, we pray, to hear the words of Christ.
To abide in them and ponder their meaning.
Making his words our words.
Learning from them how to live and how to love.

Teach us, we pray, to share Christ.
By the words of faith we share with others.
By the justice we pursue.
By the grace of open arms and the power of an open mind.

Teach us, we pray, to love Christ all the more.
To seek our salvation in his glory.
In the wonder of his cross and the mystery of the empty tomb.
For in him, dear God, you have given us life, here and now and forever.

Teach us, we pray, that Christ would be our all-in-all.
In his name, and for his sake. Amen!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12, 2010 - Prayers of the People

In your presence, O God, we find ourselves.
We find the where and the what and the why of our lives.
Heaven knows we’ve tried a concoction of other gods and goods.
Only to find ourselves all the more intent on knowing and loving you.

With unabated hope, dear God, we pray for our world.
For you are at work in all things …
Your love, O LORD, has a far reach, and your love continues to bend the course of history toward justice.
Your judgments, always merciful, bring down the high and the mighty, and lift up the poor and the downtrodden.
For us, O LORD, your timeline seems too slow … but in Christ, we see the final outcome and hear the promise that all shall be made new … we trust in your wisdom and in your mercy to get us there, at the right time.

We pray for the Holy Spirit in our lives.
To heal our wounds and restore our dignity.
That we might be a part of Christ, effectively.
And work beside him.

In Christ, O LORD, keep our eyes clean and clear.
That we might not be seduced by the glitter of power and the lust for national glory.
Keep our eyes open, we pray, to the needs of others.
To be kindly in our thoughts and compassionate in our actions.
To seek only the best.
Judging not, and welcoming all.
Giving everyone a break, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Help your people around the world to bear witness to the faith, hope and love we find in Jesus Christ.
And for people of good faith everywhere … our sisters and brothers who are Muslim and Buddhist and Hindu and Jewish, and so many other stripes and flavors, help us all to link arms against violence, to stand with one another for peace, to resist the allurement of easy answers and military options … to be people of prayer and people of good service – to ease the burdens of the poor, to feed the hungry and cloth the naked … and speak out and speak up against unfairness and prejudice and bigotry and half-truths and mindless religion and religion without a heart.

We give thanks for humanitarian organizations around the world, making a difference, calling us to responsibility and helping us focus our power for good and for peace.
We give thanks for The Hunger Project.
The Peace Corps.
And Doctors Without Borders.

LORD, we pray for Covenant on the Corner this morning.
Our friends and neighbors, and those with whom we work.
For all who sorrow … may they be comforted by your Holy Spirit.
For the lonely … may they be consoled by good and loving friends.
For those who are confused and frightened … may they see the love of Christ today and find new direction for their life and a greater confidence to face the challenges of the day.
And for the proud, we pray … may the fear that drives pride be cast out … that a new and easy love might emerge.
For the angry, we pray … may they find peace in their time.
And for the bitter, we pray … may they find joy in Christ … may they find the power to forgive, and the grace to forget.

Bless us, we pray, that we might be a blessing to others.
Guide us, we pray, that we might lead others to Christ.
Fill us with your goodness that we might be good for one another.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5, 2010, Prayers of the People

Eternal God, we lift up our thoughts to you in prayer and praise, grateful for this time and place, to be here in worship with one another, under the tutelage of your Holy Spirit, guided by the words of Scripture, to learn more of Christ and be further formed in his image.

That we might be your people here and now.
Bearing witness on behalf of Christ.
To a world of need … a world of many hurts and much sorrow, dear God …
A world often lost amid its own fears and greed … a world severely injured by the arrogance of its own power, driven by economic devices riddled with injustice, and political aspirations distorted by a callous disregard for the truth.
O LORD, we do not pretend about the world in which we live.
But it’s the world you love.
The world for which Christ was born.
The world to which you call us, to make known to the world your great love.

We give thanks for Jesus Christ, O God.
Because he is the way, the truth and the life.
His way makes sense, though it often seems strange to us.
His truth is clear, though we doubt it more than we care to admit.
His life is good, dear God, though we turn to our own versions of goodness with a bizarre willfulness that never gives us what we want, and takes away what we love.
O LORD, have mercy, we pray.

In the light of Christ, O God, we see light.
Light, pure and good.
And by that light, we know our sin, dear God.
It pains us greatly, and we are not proud
So with much relief, we confess our sins to you:
We have not loved as we could.
We have been selfish far too often.
We have been enamored of ourselves.
We have spoken when we should have listened.
We’ve given into fear when we could have been faithful.
We’re turned inward when we should have turned outward.
We have prayed without commitment.
We have worshiped with our lips and not our hearts.
These are the sins of our life, O God.

And we lay them at the foot of the cross.
For sin is a burden we cannot carry.
The weight of sin is greater than our strength, we humbly confess.
To Christ we flee, O God.
To the cross we hurriedly go.
To give unto Christ the burdens we cannot carry.
The sins of our life and the sins of the world, for Christ takes them all into his great heart.
And gives us all a second chance.

O LORD our God, thank you for Christ.
For the grace that heals.
For the mercy that transforms.
For the peace that gives us strength to march onward.
To stay the course and keep on keepin’ on, because of Jesus Christ our LORD and our Savior.

Who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …

Monday, November 22, 2010

November 21, 2010 - Prayers of the People

Eternal God, thank you.
Thank you for the gift of life.
However hard life is sometimes, LORD, it’s good to be here.
Good to be alive.
To feel sunshine on our face.
To smell rain in the air.
To hear wind rustling the leaves of fall.
To watch waves crash upon the shores of our world.
To see snow in the mountains.
To love and be loved.
To honor and to be honored.
To serve and to be served.
To live for you, God.
In the grace of our LORD Christ.
And by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Eternal God, thank you.

For priests, pastors, rabbis and imams.
We pray for the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict.
We pray for Protestant Churches and Independent Churches.
We pray for those who follow the ways of Judaism and Islam.

We pray today for world leaders.
For the United Nations.
For our neighbors to the north and to the south.
We pray for the nations of the Middle East.
And we pray for the war-torn nation of Afghanistan.

We pray for soldiers everywhere.
We pray for their commanders.
And we pray for peace.
A day when nations will lay down their arms.
And for that day, O God, we yearn.
For that good day, we pray.
And for that day of peace, we work.

Forgive our world and its warring ways.
For religion when it waves the flag and loves the gun.
Forgive the nations that sell arms and profit from war.
Forgive the multi-national corporations who shun ethics for the sake of profits.
And forgive us, O LORD, when we turn a deaf ear to the cries of our world, and a blind eye to injustice.

We pray for Covenant on the Corner today.
Giving thanks for your grace in our midst.
Leading us all these years.
Guiding us through times of challenge and hardship.
Doing might works in our midst.
Changing hearts and minds.
Saving lost souls.
Getting us through the worst of times.
Enabling us to love you and to love one another.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come …

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 14, 2010 - Prayers of the People

It is right and good, O God, for us to say thank you … to set our minds upon your mercy and to set aside ourselves for a few redeeming moments – free of me, mine and myself, as least during this time of prayer and worship. Free to count some of our many blessings and give you thanks:

You have given us your very own breath.
You have given us dignity and responsibility.
You have endowed us with conscience.
You have provided all things needful.
You have set your love upon us, and made us a part of Christ, Christ the Cornerstone, Christ the Morning Star, Christ the hope of the world!

We pray today for the State of Israel and its Palestinian citizens.
We pray for Afghanistan and Pakistan and India.
We pray for Iraq and Prime Minister Maliki.

We pray today for social workers and child-welfare workers.
We pray for those who work in prisons.
We pray for teachers in tough schools and hard neighborhoods.

We pray for Fr. Boyle and his work with youth.
We pray for the Catholic Workers Kitchen downtown and the Union Rescue Mission.
We pray for the LAX Food Pantry.
And for all who ease the pains and sorrows of suffering.

We pray, O God, for your Holy Spirit to enter anew into our hearts and minds, clearing out the dark materials, and embedding the light of Christ..
To whom we belong.
And in whom we find ourselves and our purpose in life – to glorify you, our Father in heaven, to reach out and make disciples, joining hands with others along the way, in one great fellowship of faith and witness.
We look to Christ, O God:
His selfless deeds of mercy.
His voluntary death.
His glorious resurrection from the dead.
And his continuing power to save us.

Today, we give special thanks for Canines @ Covenant.
For Patty Hedges and her leadership, her compassion and vision.
For Caralyn and Lynn, and many others who embrace the passion and the mission of Canines @ Covenant.
With them, we give thanks fir a year of worship and praise.
For changed lives, and lives changing the world.

We give thanks for Veterans Day, a time to remember.
Those who have served their nation in a moment of great need.
We honor them today, and pray your blessing upon them and their families.

We pray today for Covenant on the Corner.
For our Designated Pastor Nominating Committee.
For our elders and deacons.
For everyone who makes Covenant a place of worship and praise unto your glory, O God.

We pray today for those who grieve the loss of loved ones, who now, of necessity, walk through the valley of the shadow of death. That you are near to them, dear God, in the hour of need, is worthy of our praise. That in all such places and times, you minister tenderly to those with broken hearts.

We pray for our children.
We pray for our families.
We pray, O God, that in some small way today, we will prove faithful to you, no matter what.
That we will serve Christ and love one another.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us …

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bread - My Son's Swaziland Dog

Bread loves J's feet ...

"Heaven" - in my son's arms ...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010 - Prayers of the People

Holy God, where do we begin with our thanksgiving and praise?
For you come to us in billions of saving ways:
Through prophets and playwrights and poets.
Musicians and dancers and artists.
Parents and teachers and counselors.
And with your Holy Spirit deep within.
And through Jesus Christ your Son.
All of this and more, to save us.
To save us from ourselves.
To raise our conscience from the dead of sin, and form our souls in the image of Christ.
That we might be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
That we might be truly good for something!

We pray today for your church, O LORD.
Its sins are many and grievous.
The church, O LORD, has not always preached your gospel.
We have built buildings and kingdoms more than we have built love.
And we can only confess these sins with sorrow and humility:
Be merciful to the church, dear God, the church for which your Son died, the church created by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day.
In your mercy, restore your church, that the church might have authentic life, and be a beacon of real hope.
Raise up in our midst, we pray, women and men of great faith and vision. Thanks be to you, O God, for elders and deacons who lead the way, and for pastors who teach us your Word and challenge us to think.

We pray today for our newly elected officials.
Upon their shoulders, O God, the heaviest of burdens, and the greatest of challenges.
May your Holy Spirit bless our nation with a great conscience for the poor and the oppressed, and grant to us a high determination to wage peace rather than war.
And for the nations of the world we pray.
For our neighbors to the south and to the north.
For kings and queens and prime ministers and presidents.
For all who govern and lead.

We pray for our children, dear God.
For our families and our friends.
And for our beloved Covenant on the Corner.
We pray for those in sorrow.
Those who are near unto death.
Those who wonder what it’s all about.
For marriages challenged by the stresses and strains of the day.
For lonely hearts.
Bitter spirits.
For souls arid and dry.
For anyone discouraged and fearful.

O LORD our God, be merciful to us all.
We need your grace.
Your peace.
We need your Holy Spirit.
To infuse our hearts with a fresh lease on life.
And a deeper devotion to Jesus Christ our LORD.

Who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Good Humor? Good Puns?

From a dear friend:

Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.
A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
Dijon vu – the same mustard as before.
Practice safe eating – always use condiments.
Shotgun wedding – A case of wife or death.
A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.
A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.
Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.
Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
What's the definition of a will? It's a dead give away...
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes.
She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.
A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.
With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
Local Area Network in Australia – the LAN down under.
Every calendar's days are numbered.
A lot of money is tainted – It taint yours and it taint mine.
A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
He had a photographic memory that was never developed.
A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.
Once you've seen one shopping centre, you've seen a mall.
Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis...
Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
Acupuncture is a jab well done.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 31, 2010 - Prayers of the People

Eternal God, in whom there is no shortage of grace, we thank you with heart and soul, that we’re here today in a place called Covenant.
We’re here, O God, because you have called us unto yourself, you have cleared away the debris of sin and made your way to us, when we were too weak, too tired, too broken, to find our way to you.

We are like the lost coin and you found us.
The lost sheep and you carried us.
The confused boy with tattered clothing and selfish soul, and you welcomed us home with royal robes and fine rings.

We thank you, O God, as best we can.
That your love is greater than our love.
Your grace bigger than our repentance.
Your mercy larger than our promises.
We thank you, O God, that our salvation doesn’t hinge on our faith, strong as it may be sometimes.
But hinges on Christ and his Cross, always strong, always good, always faithful.

We pray today for our nation.
We pray for the candidates.
We pray for all who will cast a vote.

We pray for the nations of the world.
Nicaragua, Swaziland and Tibet.
China, Russian and India.
Nations large and small, rich and poor.
Grateful, O LORD, that all the nations belong to you … that, in the weal and woe of history, in our best and in our worst, your hand remains upon us all … that you remain steadfast in your love for the world you created, and firm in your determination to save us, even as humankind proves itself unworthy of your love in our warring and wasteful ways.
Forgive us, we pray, and hold us accountable even as you move us to better days.

Raise up for us, we pray, women and men of compassion.
To heal the wounds we inflict upon one another.
To stem the tide of disease and ignorance.
To bring good news to the poor.
To lift up the fallen.
To bring hope and peace to wearied souls.
To challenge the powerful to be powerful for good.
To challenge the values of materialism and wantonness.
To lift high the cross of Jesus Christ.

We pray, today, dear God, for ourselves and those we love.
For friends in need, and families in distress.
For loved ones in faraway places.
For broken hearts beset with disappointment.
Minds besieged with worry and fear.
Souls bent low with the burdens of envy and anger.
For the healing of all such things, we pray.

Give us your goodness, we pray, that we might be good for the world.
Give us good humor, so that we can have a good laugh now and then at ourselves.
Grant us peace within our souls.
And prosperity in our labors.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Prayers of the People – October 24, 2010

Whatever our momentary mood, O LORD, whatever our fortune may be, charge our souls with gratitude, that we may always find cause to thank you … and have reason to flood heaven with our praise! For great is your name, and vast are your blessings, and blessed are we to be a part of Christ.

We thank you, O God:
For unwise prayers you denied, sparing us the pain of desires not yet mature.
We were angry when you said No! … but we give thanks for making us wait and think and grow further into our life.
We thank you, dear God, unexpected trials that come our way, releasing within us capacities for patience and love …
For the ancient words of Scripture that burn with passion and invite us to the foot of the cross.
For Jesus of Nazareth, who finds the lost sheep and stills the raging sea …
We thank you, loving God, for a remarkable mercy that holds us when we’re hardly worth the holding.

We pray today for world leaders …
For women and men who bear arms …
For those who wear the robes of justice and those who wear the badge of enforcement …

We pray today for religious leaders and spiritual teachers …
For artists and poets …
Dancers and singers …
For those who entertain us … and make us laugh and cry.

We pray, O God …
That we might have good hearts … to see the world as you do, with mercy, love and hope …
That we might have good minds … ready to wrestle with tall ideas, thinking long and hard about what love means.

We pray that when hard times come our way, we’ll meet them with some dignity and peace of mind, for you are at work in all such things … near to us in the hours of our need.

We pray that we will keep our eyes on Christ … neither blinded by glitter and glamour nor discouraged by the troubles of the day.

We pray that the love of Christ will guide us through the days of our lives … until we come to stand before your great throne, O God, gathered with all of humanity and all the angels, in a new heaven and a new earth, where tears are no more, and the sun never sets.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

With thanks to Ernest T. Campbell and his prayers; in them, I find much inspiration.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October 17, 2010 - Prayers of the People

Almighty God, it is right and good for us to be here today – to give you thanks and praise:

Thanks and praise:
For the church of Jesus Christ …
For the bud of love in the human soul.
For visions of a just and peaceful world …

Thanks and praise:
For our breath and for our bread.
For our ability to remember and our capacity to hope.

Thanks and praise:
For serious minds who grapple with tall questions …
For fun-loving souls who grace our world with humor, and remind us to laugh at ourselves.

Thanks and praise, O God, for the rescue of the Chilean miners …
In such moments, O God, we learn a little bit more about life and love … what we can accomplish when we work together … and put our shoulders to the wheel for the common good.

Almighty God, creator of the heavens and the earth, we pray now for the church around the world …
Bless the church with a generous spirit …
Save the church from preoccupation with nickels and noses …
Guide the church to an ever-deepening understanding of Christ …
Open wide the hearts and minds of your people, to receive more of your love and to welcome everyone in the Spirit of Jesus Christ our LORD.

Specifically, we pray for those near and dear to us.
Some are walking through the valley of the shadow of death and wonder if the dark clouds will ever recede … stay near to them, we pray.
Some have lost employment and fear for their future … watch over them, we pray.
Some live and work in far-away places … keep them safe, we pray.
Some are burdened with harsh memories and bitter regret … with your Holy Spirit, O God, minister gently to their wounded souls … and lead them by your hand to safe places of healing.

For all of us here, dear LORD, enough grace to make it through the day … enough hope to keep a bright spirit … enough peace to be a peaceable presence in our world …

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …

With many thanks to the prayers of Ernest T. Campbell that have, of late, been such an inspiration to me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Prayers of the People - October 10, 2010

We thank you, O God, for a time and place to gather …
To gather our thoughts and lift our hearts toward you, Creator of the heavens and the earth.
We thank you for those who have gone this way long before we were born.
For women and men of faith and vision.
Who looked upon Christ with gladness and joined the brave procession that has made this world better …
They plowed the good earth and planted the seed to feed millions.
Built schools and hospitals.
Saw the horrors of slavery and called for its abolition.
Watched children labor in dark and dangerous mines and factories and came to their defense.
They labored and lobbied for shorter workweeks and the 8-hour day, for a minimum wage … for health care, pension benefits and safe working conditions, to honor the dignity of work and to preserve the wellbeing of our families.
They organized and marched to give women the vote, to insure for all life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, free of gender constraints and prejudice.
For all of who have gone the way of faith, hope and love, we join our voices with choirs of angels, giving thanks, and praising you, O God, for your grace poured out upon humankind, a grace that still stirs the conscience to see the world with the eyes of Christ, a grace that yet calls young and old to follow him, the Christ who bore upon his back the cross of our condemnation and was raised on the third day in the glory of your divine confirmation.

We pray today for those in the banking industry: guide them, dear God, to sort out their priorities, because every mortgage is a family, every paper they sign is someone’s life.
Deliver them, and deliver all of us, we pray.
We pray for schools and teachers – who work in crowded classrooms, in buildings too often ill-kept, with meager supplies and the pressures of the day: with too many children poorly nourished who cannot concentrate; children who are anxious, because family life is hard … and frustrated families caught in the machinery of too much work, not enough time, and the economic turmoil that troubles all of us.
Deliver them, and deliver all of us we pray.
We pray for our President and his family, those who counsel and protect them.
Our legislators and our judges.
Our governors and our mayors.
Firefighters and police officers.
A host of folks who sit at computers keeping track of 310 million people.
Watch over them all, dear LORD, and keep them in your care.

We pray now for Covenant on the Corner:
And all who gather here in worship.
Our shut-ins and those who live far away.
Elders and Deacons, and all who serve.
Youth leaders and the youth under their care.
And the impact we have on the city around us.
Give us, we pray, a lively sense of mission.
The ability to choose our priorities.
The grace to love one another in our differences and distinctions.
The faith to trust you in all times and places.
And the hope of the Gospel.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done …

Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 26, 2010 - Prayers of the People

Dear God in heaven,
We pray with gratitude and hope.
Thy Kingdom come … thy will be done.

You have given us a vision:
A world that is just and good.
And toward that end, O God, we join in the great procession of faith … a procession led by Christ.

Empower us, we pray, with your Holy Spirit.
Infect our hearts with the glory of the Risen Christ.
Flood our minds with his joy and his passion.
Direct our footsteps in his pathways.
Make us fearless in the face of the troubles and trials of the day.
Give us voice to speak the gospel.
To be positive and hopeful and kind.
To be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

We pray today for Soup Kitchens - those who serve and the hungry women and men who receive.
We pray today for Food Pantries - those who bag groceries and those who stock the shelves … and the clients who stand in line.

We pray for ourselves, LORD.
That we might work hard and faithfully, wherever we are … in the best of times and in the hardest of times.
Shouldering the burdens of life, and not complaining too much.
Doing our best, dear God, as best we can.
Looking upon others with kindness.
As you look upon us with mercy!

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done …

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 12, 2010, Prayers of the People

O LORD our God, thank you!

Thank you for Covenant Presbyterian Church … and thank you for your Holy Spirit in this place …

Thank you for the life we have today … each one of us … whatever the burdens we must bear, we’re here, and it’s good to be alive.

Thank you for people who care … for people who see a new world and dedicate themselves to make it happen … for people who swing hammers and pound nails to build a new home for a needy family … for people who bag groceries by the ton for hungry people … for people ladling out rice and beans to the folks who live on the street … for Sunday School teachers and deacons, for musicians and elders … for every members of this community of faith … for every prayer said by them, for every kindly deed done by them, for every effort made to honor Christ in word and deed… O LORD, our God, we give thanks.

Bless us, we pray.
With the love of Christ.
That we, too, might dare to see a new day and give ourselves to the future.
That we, too, might pick up our cross and bear the burdens of faith.
That we, too, might apply ourselves to the best and the brightest of things … choosing the better angels of faith, hope and love.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done …

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Would Jesus Say? ... by Bob Orr

From my good friend and fine writer, Bob Orr ... written in reflection on the possible burning of a Quran at a Florida Church.

What Would Jesus Say?

The Jesus I know from the Gospels was a friend to all and demonstrated in his actions God's love and forgiveness to men and women especially the ones we would condemn and count as unworthy.   This Jesus calls us to live in community with one another.  Jesus was a Jew and his disciples were Jews.  As a  man of his time Jesus would have spoken  and understood Hebrew, Aramaic, and probably Greek.  Where he was born, grew to manhood and conducted his ministry  was a cultural stew and a cross roads of trade and beliefs. 

 The United States is a pluralistic nation made up of many religions - Christianity is one of them.  We pride ourselves in the freedom of worship.  It's one of our cherished values.   Just last week in my home town of Canton, MI we joined a Hindu community in celebrating the dedication of their new temple.  Their center can accommodate a thousand worshipers.  Down the road from where I live  is a Sikh temple where we visited a few months ago to better know our neighbors.  Dearborn, MI  (just 15 miles to our east) is home to the largest Arab community outside of the Mid East.  Islam is their religion.  We're all citizens of the United States, we're all neighbors and we all fly the same flag.  I don't appreciate hate speech, fear tactics, or race baiting.  When times are rough like they are now  we search for someone to blame.  This divides us and drives us apart.  We're weaker as a country as a result.  

What would Jesus say?  I think Jesus would cry over our fearful bickering with one another.  Jesus would meet hate with love.  Jesus would meet ignorance with knowledge.  Jesus would extend an open hand to the neighbor and not a clinched fist.  Jesus would speak a kind word and offer a generous embrace to the stranger and the different among us.  That's what I think Jesus would do.  --Bob Orr

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Burning the Quran

September 8, 2010 - a note sent to the friends and members of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles

Dear Readers,

The proposed burning of a Quran by a small far-right evangelical church in Gainesville, Florida saddens me beyond words.

I have emailed the church asking them to consider how this will affect our soldiers in Afghanistan - there's no doubt that radical Muslims will see these radical "Christians" as representative of Christianity in America, even as we tend to see radical Muslims as representative of Islam.

Anyway, this is a reminder of what I have long called Christianity's underbelly.

Most of us rarely, if ever, encounter it, and chances are that anyone on this mailing is unlikely to meet it, except in these rare moments when bizarre antics and seething hatred reach the news. Though just a small group in Gainesville, I'm grateful for the news coverage, because there's a lot of this twisted christianity in the backwoods and suburbs of America, and it needs to be brought to the light of day.

There really isn't much we can do - though Gainesville police have denied the church a burning permit. We live in free land, but a "church" like this needs to be reminded that freedom isn't license, that freedom requires responsibility.

But with the breaking news of a hate crime in Thousand Oaks - Swastikas and hate messages ... we need to be clear - there's a lot of hatred out there, and some of it is found within the ranks of American Christianity.

The only antidote to such distortions of the faith is, first, our alertness to such things, then a solid knowledge of Christian history with a good and careful reading of Scripture.

In Christ, for Christ and with Christ,


Merciful God, I pray thee to grant me, if it please thee, ardor to desire thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to know thee and skill to speak to the glory of thy name. Amen (Thomas Aquinas)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How Does God Encounter Us?

How, then, does the wholly-other God encounter us? 
In the text, when carefully read?
In Jesus, when humbly contemplated?
In prayer, when surrender is the heart of it?
In worship, that seeks nothing for the self?
in life, that is moved by compassion?
In death, when we encounter the absolute limits of self?
in eternity, when we encounter the absolute infinity of God's love?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Growing and Eating Your Own Carrots - by Bob Orr

By Bob Orr

It was just this morning, early, about 7 am.  I made my usual trek to my twenty-four square foot garden to cut some red zinnias for our living room, do a little watering and pull one carrot.  I've waited since late May for this time of the year - the beginning of the carrot harvest.  Since they're not all ready at the same time, I need to peek down and around green twenty inch  bushy tops to examine the point where top gives way to root.  Do I see a little bit of carrot above ground?  That's a good sign.  My gardening book says  I can carefully push the soil away coming at the carrot from the side and test it's size and if not ready then replace the dirt.   I'm not good at this procedure.  This morning I got a good one!  Bright orange, plump with a characteristic wide top and medium taper to the tip.  After washing it off in the hose and cutting off the top, slowly I take the first bite.  The crunch and flavor is a little fourth of July.  This is not  the carrot you bring home from the grocery - how long since picking?, where grown and packed?, how transported?  No, this is a carrot grown lovingly and organically since May.  This is a carrot not a minute out of it's earthy home.  I crunch it up into little pieces and hold them in my mouth just to savor the flavor.   It was eleven months ago since I had my last home grown carrot.    I tickled the earth with a seed this Spring and here's my reward.  It's worth the wait. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Howard L Rice Dies

The church of Jesus Christ has lost an eminent scholar and a man of great heart.

Rev. Dr. Howard Leland Rice, San Francisco Theological Seminary chaplain and professor of ministry from 1969-97, died on Sunday, Aug. 8, in Claremont, Calif., at the age of 78. For more than 50 years, Rice served the larger Presbyterian Church as one of its most respected spiritual leaders.
Rice was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis prior to his appointment at SFTS and spent his time on the San Anselmo campus either on crutches or confined to a wheelchair. After Rice’s retirement, his diagnosis was changed from MS to spinal cord damage. Last spring he battled a stubborn bone infection for weeks, resulting in his decision to accept hospice care. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.
A memorial service honoring Rice’s life will take place Aug. 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Claremont Presbyterian Church. 
In the early 1970s, when one of his students gave him a copy of Morton T. Kelsey’s The Other Side of Silence, Rice realized he needed to feed not only his mind, but also his soul. By the mid-1970s, Rice recruited other pastors and scholars in the Bay Area to help him lead spiritual retreats for local pastors.
For the next 20 years he helped Presbyterians and other Protestants discover spirituality within the Protestant-Reformed tradition. An expert in Presbyterian Polity, Rice was elected moderator of the 191st General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. in 1979. During his year as moderator, he organized three spirituality retreats throughout the country and encouraged each presbytery to send one delegate. 
Rice was instrumental in supporting the establishment of “Companions on the Inner Way,” a retreat/conference that has served hundreds of pastors and lay persons. Rice played a significant role in developing SFTS’s pioneering program in spirituality. This led to the creation of the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction and the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Formation programs, which in turn prepared a cadre of spiritual directors within the Reformed Tradition.
“Howard had a huge heart for people, for ministry, and for the Church that he served so long and well,” said Dr. Elizabeth Liebert, SFTS dean and professor of spiritual life. “Always standing with the underdog, he was persistent to the point of stubbornness in defending them. He is beloved by hundreds of students, pastors and church folk, whose hopes and struggles he held dear. We mourn the loss of mentor, colleague, spiritual adviser, friend and consummate pastor.”
In 1991, Rice published the landmark book, Reformed Spirituality: An Introduction to Believers, and it continues to be widely read in seminaries throughout the United States. Rice was a man of great faith and possessed an enormous heart. His former students, colleagues, family and friends will always remember his thoughtful way and gentle words which conveyed “the living sense of God’s presence in daily life.”
To honor his retirement from SFTS in 1997, Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey presented a tribute to Rice before the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2007, SFTS trustee and alumna, Rev. Jackie Leonard, made a first gift to the seminary toward the Rice Family Chair in Christian Spirituality. In endowing this chair, Leonard sought to honor Rice and his wife Nancy, the late Rev. Wendy Rice Dreitcer and her husband, Dr. Andrew Deeter Dreitcer, and their longstanding contributions to the spiritual nurture of students, church leaders and congregations.
Rice graduated from Carroll College (Waukesha, Wis.) with a BA in history in 1953. He entered McCormick Theological Seminary in 1953, having just married Nancy Lee Zoerb. He graduated from McCormick with a BD in 1956. Rice and his wife had two children, Wendy and Amanda, both born after his seminary years. (Wendy, who earned a Master of Divinity from SFTS in 1983, died in 2004 from a brain tumor.)
Rice was ordained by the Presbytery of Winnebago on Aug. 20, 1956. His first call was as pastor of the House of Faith Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, where he remained through 1961. He served as pastor to Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Chicago from 1961-68.
Rice received a number of honors in his long and distinguished ministerial and teaching career, including honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from Whitworth College (1978) and from his alma mater Carroll College (1980). In 1986 he was the recipient of the McCormick Theological Seminary Distinguished Alumnus Award. The SFTS board of trustees conferred on him the title of Professor of Ministry, Emeritus upon his retirement. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 8, 2010 - Prayers of the Day

O LORD our God,
We thank you for the ceaseless compassion that guides our steps through life … in the worst of times, and in the best of times, your grace is sufficient unto the needs of the day.

In our sorrows, LORD,
And in our fear.
In our confusion and in our frustration.
You are God, and to you we belong.

Though we are frequently lost, you find us.
Though death is the dark shadow upon our souls, Christ is the light of the world.
And to him, O God, we turn.
In his cross, we find comfort.
In his resurrection, we find hope.
In his ascension, we find promise.

O God, help us, this day, to be deeply and wonderfully centered in our Savior.
In a land where so many folks are weary of religion.
Tired of the ranting and raving of poorly trained preachers.
Tired of the lies that religion has to tell to stay in business.

Help us to be joyfully about the truth.
The truth of Jesus and his love.
Help us, we pray, to lean on the everlasting arms.

And for the Holy Spirit we continue to pray.
And with the Spirit, we trust.
Trust that you are at work in all things for good.
That in life and in death, we belong to you.

And by the Spirit, dear God, we choose the best and the brightest.

We will walk with Christ.
We will shine light in the darkness.
We will open doors and welcome one another.
We will speak kindly and live peaceably as much as possible.

And when we fail, we’ll admit it.
When we speak harshly, we’ll seek forgiveness.

And we’ll keep on learning, LORD.
Keep on loving.
Keep on hoping.
Because that’s your way.
You do not give up on us, O God.
And we will not give up on one another.

Because of the Holy Spirit.
And for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done …

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Email Sent to the Congregation

Dear Readers,

As you probably know by now, Prop 8 has been overturned.

The Session (governing body) of Covenant Presbyterian Church, agreed to oppose Proposition 8, and when California voters narrowly approved it, the Session came out in favor of overturning it.

While the Session is sensitive to religions questions on the matter, the Session is clear that we're dealing here with a question of equality, something Judge Vaughn Walker affirmed in his decision. 

To read a review of Walker's decision, check out a "Faith and Reason" column by clicking HERE.

Covenant Church has a long and proud history of affirming civil rights. When California voters overturned a legislative decision (The Rumford Fair Housing Act, 1963)) and approved Prop 14 (1964) to retain housing covenants (restrictions on selling a home to minorities), Covenant's Session rose to the occasion and agreed that such covenants were simply wrong. Ultimately, the courts of California (1966), and the US Supreme Court (1967), ruled that housing covenants were unconstitutional. 

I am personally grateful for Judge Walker's decision, and I am confident that America is at its best when opening doors and windows of freedom and equality. To read my personal reflections about the decision and the quick response of the Mormon and Roman Catholic Churches to the ruling, click HERE.

Blessings and Peace.


Overturning of Prop 8

We live in democracy, not a theocracy. Right now, Mormon and Roman Catholic leadership is walking the plank on this one. Their position is irrational and biblically and theological flawed. Ultimately, their LGBT members will be heard, and America's basic sense of fairness will prevail. 

I want to live in a land of freedom, freedom for Mormons and Roman Catholics to manage their own households as they please, so that I can manage my own household, too.

America is always at its best when expanding freedom and equality. There are always those factions who see freedom and equality as a threat, and they cry wolf again and again, or like Chicken Little, run around shouting about the sky falling.

The ruling in Iowa by a conservative judiciary is a harbinger of the future. When and if Prop 8 goes to the Supreme Court, I'm confident that even the most conservative judges will see it as Judge Vaughn Walker does, though Justices Scalia and Thomas will likely dissent.

The overturning of Prop 8 is a good day for the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Catholic Workers Hospitality Kitchen, Los Angeles - August 3, 2010

Here are some pics from today, August 3, 2010
Greetings from one of the courtyard critters!

Lots of Bagles to cut ...

Courtyard cheer ...

Taking a break ...

Clean up ...

A Servant of the Lord ...

For more information, click HERE.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25, 2010 - Prayers of the People

Thank you, O God, for this day.

Your day.
The LORD's day.
A time to worship you … to get our house in order.
The LORD's Day …
It’s not about us, and it feels right and good, to step aside from ourselves.
We’re tired of our self-absorption, O God.
Deliver us, we pray, from our little worlds of me and mine.
Retool our hearts with your Holy Spirit …
Conform us to the image of Christ.
Forgive our sins.
Restore us … refresh us … and send us into your world with healing for the nations …
And give us, we pray, a full and joyful measure of your Holy Spirit.

Creator of the heavens and the earth,
We thank you.
For the wonders of our planet.
The birds of the air and the fish of the sea.
All creatures, great and small.
For you made and love them all.
Grant us, we pray, kindness toward nature.
Forgive the greed that rips a rain forest to shreds.
The thoughtlessness that fills the seas with garbage.
The manipulation of soil with pesticides and herbicides.
The cruelty of industrial farming.
Filling the food chain with hormones and antibiotics and strange chemicals, altering the shape of life, in ways we do not know.

With your Spirit, O God, give us good eyes, eyes to see the natural around us … the beauty of the sky and the delicate curve of a gull’s wing … the power of the wolf and the innocence of the lamb.
Give us ears to hear the birds of dawn as they greet the day with joyful song, and from them, O God, teach us to greet the day with song, giving thanks for our lives, and trusting you to provide what’s needed every day of life … all the way to eternity.

Give us, we pray, a sense of balance.
It’s not about us.
It’s about your world.
Nor what we want.
But what we need.

And we need you.
We need a finer compassion and a richer love.
Our hearts need to be fleshed out with Christ.

Thank you, Dear God,
For friends and family.
For pets and gardens.
For pots and pans.
For salt and pepper and oregano and rosemary and thyme and coriander.

Thank you for a good bottle of wine.
And good music.
And faith, hope and love.

And thank you, most of all, for Jesus our LORD.
Who taught us to pray, saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done …