In Praise of Music

Music.

What more can I say?

This one word stirs imagination, memory, and soul,

Dear God and Creator of all that is good.

God, creator of music.

 

Music,

Our ability to make it,

The ways it impacts brain, soul, and spirit,

The global variety of musical expression,

The messages it carries,

Love, hope, grief, friendship, peace, justice.

The rhythms of dance.

 

All of creation makes music,

Rustling leaves, rhythm of a pecking woodpecker, beat of a bird’s wings, trumpet of an elephant’s call, rain, wind,

Foot steps,

Breathing lungs and beating hearts,

Drum, cymbal, guitar, piano, pan flute, trombone, bag pipes, rain stick, gong,

Marimba, cello, balalalika, sitar, tambourine, kalimba, gamelan, dulcimer, kazoo,

Clap, whistle, stomp, hum,

Vibrations.

 

Our souls,

Our world,

Needs hopeful music,

Lyrics that inspire,

Melodies that unite,

Riffs that challenge,

Harmonies to join,

Rhythms of our common humanity, the common good,

Beats that move our feet, that make us sway,

Grand arias,

Quiet lullabies,

Hymns of praise,

Psalms of lament,

Raps of justice.

 

Creator God,

In pandemic and quarantine, in loneliness and separation,

In hope and relief, in connection and friendship,

We praise you for the gift of music.

May we listen to, make, and sing music of hope and love,

Music that glorifies You.

Amen.

Note- image from Google Free Photos, Pexels; words by Lida Merrill

Prayer to God, Loving Parent, Abba

You, loving Creator who has many names,

God Who Sees,

God Who is Present,

God Who is All Knowing,

God Who Heals,

God Who Provides,

Alpha and Omega,

the Beginning and the End.

This morning I, we, need You to be Abba.

Abba, Parent, who is all wise and all love.

A Parent unlike any earthly mother or father.

The Creating Parent, who knows the final outcome,

The honorable decision,

The just direction,

The kind answer,

The merciful response,

The compassionate solution,

The righteous action,

The generous provision.

Abba, tender Creating Parent,

My prayers go to You this morning.

I pray for those who are

Chafing at isolation from loved ones,

Lonely,

Mourning,

Afraid,

Anxious,

Sick,

In financial need,

Bored,

Hungry,

Unsafe in their homes,

Incarcerated,

Angry,

Depressed.

Creating Parent, please be a loving presence in their day.

Please:

Give them encouraging words,

Give them dreams of being loved,

Send angels to give them gentle touches and hugs,

Prompt someone to contact them,

Open the eyes of neighbors to see unsafe children and families, and how they can wisely intervene,

Open storehouses of food and resources.

If You, as the Loving, Creating, All Knowing Parent have made me/us to be the answer of anyone’s prayers than please

Nudge us,

Whisper to us,

Point the way for us,

Open our hearts and minds to see,

Make us restless,

Cause us to be uncomfortable

Until we respond,

Kind, generous, courageous, merciful and just responses.

Tiny or grand responses,

Whatever response is needed.

And, Abba, Loving Parent, if we are the ones in need, please hear our prayers.

To You be the power, and the glory now and forever,

Amen.

 

Note- image used is a sunset on Lake Erie, photographed by author

 

 

Prayer for God’s Steadfast Presence

Father, who art in heaven and on earth,

Creator of All that is Good, who is here and attentive to us.

Your steadfast love never wavers.

Your mercies are new every morning.

Every. Morning.

Without fail.

 

You are a rock fortress to whom we can go,

You are a mountain cave we can hide in when the storm comes,

You are the cherry picker platform on the end of the firetruck ladder,

Coming to rescue us.

You are the one in the mask, face shield, and PPE,

Saying, “I will not leave you.”

 

You are our stability,

You never change.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow,

You are Love.

Your love does not falter.

Your mercy and justice never tremble.

Your compassion does not hesitate.

Your wisdom is not indecisive.

Your ways are higher than our ways.

 

Creator of all that is good,

The word for the day is stability.

Our stability is You.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

 

To You be the glory.

 

Amen

Note- image is a mountain near Purulha, Guatemala, taken by this writer in August 2019.

Dear Pastor,

Dear Congregational Leader,

Peace be with you. May you find a peace that surpasses all understanding in this current time of virus, restrictions, social distancing, and technology for communication.

Only a few weeks ago we each were fairly confident in our ability to connect with the people in our congregations and communities. This change was thrust upon us so quickly that the time to think intentionally about communicating in different ways has mainly been reactionary.

Well, we reacted and are now determining how to make the connections and communications proactive, more meaningful, more inclusive. I have a request to make of you, as you prayerfully consider your options and explore various platforms for electronic communication:

  • Please do not forget to include the people in your congregations and communities who do not have access to technology.
  • Please remember to include those who communicate in non-traditional ways.
  • Please include those who are shut-ins, such as residents of nursing homes, supported living, homeless shelters, psychiatric facilities, and prisons.
  • Don’t leave out those who have disabilities or are elderly and do not understand the technology.
  • Please include the people who live in poverty and cannot afford the technology;  many of them no longer have access to computers in libraries to connect via e-mail.

How can you and your communications team intentionally include people who are often forgotten or who seem too difficult to include?

  • A direct telephone call to those with telephones.
  • A telephone call to the front desk of a facility with a request to be connected to the person.
  • An email to the last known email address.
  • Put pen to paper and write them a note to post in the mail.
  • Search for them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
  • Contact the chaplain’s office at their facility.
  • Send them a card addressed to them at the shelter they usually frequent.
  • Contact the person who usually gives them a ride to your weekly services to find out if  they have connected recently and how they did so.
  • Print out sermons and mail them to shut ins.
  • Make CDs of the service, or portions of it, and mail or drop them off at people’s homes, using safe social distancing practices.
  • If you know their address than drop off a book, puzzle, game, flowers from the garden, etc., using safe social distancing practices.
  • Ask congregants to call and share the audio of Live Stream and other gatherings over their telephone with those who cannot access them.
  • Ask a volunteer to verbally describe images used in PowerPoint presentations that are part of the on-line service experience for those who are visually impaired or who cannot view the screen. Google how to do this.
  • Provide ASL interpretation, transcription service or closed captioning.

Friends, thank you. In my Christian tradition the inclusion of all members of your community is part of being sent out as Jesus was sent by his Father; He included those on the fringes. Indeed, he often deliberately sought them out for relationship.

Thank you for embracing technology as a means of serving your congregations and for sharing the good news of your faith.  Thank you for all that you are learning and implementing. I ask only, sister and brother, that you consider and include all of your people.

Are there things that I did not include in my suggestions that you have done to reach out to people that you would like to share with us? Please, do so in the comments. I would love to hear your ideas. Thank you!

Peace be with you.

 

 

A Monday Morning Thought & Prayer

When random thoughts pop into my mind I pause.

I have found that often the thought leads to deeper thoughts and ideas.

This morning’s thought was in a conversation with my dog:

“We don’t make the sunshine.”

 

We do not make the sunshine,

But we know Who does.

 

We did not conjure compassion,

But we know Who gave it to us.

 

We discover medicines and cures,

But we know who is the true Healer.

 

We did not create the healing salve of nature,

But we know the Creator.

 

We dance, sometimes to the beat of a different drummer,

But You created the beat.

 

We make music but it did not originate in us,

But we know the First Composer.

 

We can not make fix grieving hearts,

But we know Who does.

 

We did not create love,

But we know the One Who is Love.

 

To the Creator, Healer, Composer, Artist, Comforter, Love, be the glory.

Amen.

TGIF Covid 19 Prayer

Creator God,

We have an expression,

TGIF,

Thank God It’s Friday.

You have probably heard it a lot.

 

I don’t know if you hear it as often lately.

For so many it is difficult to keep track of the days of the week.

Familiar work and school patterns have shifted.

Familiar responsibilities and routines have changed.

 

Please, Creator God,

Remind us that what has not changed is

Your constant love for humanity,

Your presence in the world,

Your compassion and mercy.

 

What has not changed is your words

To bear one another’s burdens,

To forgive and ask for forgiveness,

To be generous,

To be childlike.

 

Thank God it is Friday.

Thank God for giving us the gift of Sabbath rest.

 

TGIF.

Amen

Prayer for Living in the Tension

God, who is present here at this moment, … and who was present in the past and will be in the future;

Jesus, the King whose Kingdom is on earth… and whose Kingdom is still to come;

Holy Spirit, who was with the Creator at the beginning of time… and who empower us now … and in the future;

God, who created the tulip bulb… and who makes it grow only after a cold winter buried in the ground;

Jesus, who died… but did  not stay dead;

Spirit, who has macro presence in all of creation… and micro presence in our lives;

Life, that is so beautifully precious… and so devastatingly painful when it ends;

Grief that tears apart our lives…. and hope that death never has the final word;

Distance, that separates family and friends… and protects family and friends;

Sadness that we cannot be with people we love… and relief that staying away keeps loved ones safe;

Isolation… and solidarity;

Death…. and life;

Life … and eternal life;

Love… and God is love.

Amen.

 

 

 

Eastertide Day 2 Prayer

Good God, Creator of all that is Good, Giver of Life
We embrace today,
Day 6 of Passover,
Day 2 of Eastertide season.
Day 2 following the celebration of the resurrection of your Son.
Day 2 of remembering that everything is different because of the life of Jesus.

Today, with open eyes and hearts we see the goodness of creation.
Birds, sunshine, flowers,
Rocks, water, sky,
Laughter, song, silence.

Today, with open minds and hearts we see your goodness.
Attentiveness, sacrifice, compassion,
Creativity, patience, faith.

Today, with open spirits and souls we see your love.
Family, strangers, givers,
Smilers, encouragers, listeners.

Today we see You.
We see the results of your life and resurrection.
We see You.

To your glory,
Amen

Holy Saturday Prayer in Time of Covid 19

 

Holy Saturday.

A day of waiting.

Our calendars and experience tell us that we only have to wait out this day,

Then tomorrow we will celebrate and dance and sing!

Then tomorrow we will read the story of Jesus’s return to life,

Tomorrow we will hear the angel’s words, “He is not here, he is risen as he said.”

 

Maundy Thursday

Good Friday

Holy Saturday

 

Our calendar and experience tells us what we will celebrate tomorrow.

But that first Holy Saturday they did not have a calendar.

They did not know it was only one of three days.

They did not know when the fear and hiding would end.

Their world was uncertain and the future was unknown.

They did not know.

 

Father, that sounds familiar.

We don’t have a calendar for Covid 19,

We don’t know when the fear and isolating will end.

We don’t know when we will gather to celebrate and dance and sing.

 

On this Holy Saturday,

The day of waiting,

Please sustain our hope as we wait.

 

Our current reality is one long, uncertain, and wearying “Holy Saturday” existence.

 

We will wait,

We will care for each other,

We will maintain hope for a future day to gather, to celebrate, dance and sing.

 

We wait then we sing!

 

May it be so, Our Father who art in heaven.

 

Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer in a Pandemic

Creator and creative God.

God, who has said to call him Father.

Our Father God who is everywhere at all times; our Parent who is with everyone at all times,

Father who is in our homes, the homes of our loved ones, the homes of strangers, and with those who are homeless,

Father who rides in ambulances and who moves about everywhere in emergency rooms and hospital corridors and ICU units. And morgues.

Our Father, who has many names

Each name is holy. Creator, Healer, Counselor, Comforter, the One Who Sees, the One Who Supplies, the Word in the Flesh, Love.

Our Father whose presence is everywhere, who cannot be kept out,

Whose kingdom permeates every corner of the world, including the homes and offices of our political leaders, and our spiritual leaders,

Whose kingdom is a witness to your mercy and justice, your compassion and wisdom.

Father, you opened wide your kingdom to include us,

Through your Spirit, through angels working on your behalf, through the people of your kingdom, may what You desire be lived today,

Through your Spirit, angels, and people, may your will be done here as it is in heaven,

Mercy, justice, compassion,

Tears wiped away,

Knowledge to guide decisions that must be made today,

Wisdom to make decisions that offer abundant life,

Abundant life for family, friend, stranger,

Abundant life for neighbors who are unable to work, for our side yard neighbors and our neighbors in far places of our world,

Abundant life for the weakest among us, for the most sick, the most lonely.

Abundant life according to your understanding, not ours.

On earth as it is in heaven.

Father, we ask for what we need today,

You created a world rich in resources,

May we use only what we need for today,

Bread, tortillas, naan, crust, pita, manna, matzoh,

Gloves, masks, protective gowns, sanitizer,

Today You give enough love, compassion, mercy, justice, bread, medical supplies.

We ask for bread and we ask for forgiveness,

Forgive us for not loving our neighbors as ourselves.

We ask for the ability to forgive those who offend us, those who hoard, those who defy the need for social distancing.

Father, we ask for hearts that recognize when we are being tempted to not love our neighbors as ourselves.

Today,

Your Kingdom, your ways, your words,

Your power, your authority, your guidance, your boldness,

Your glory, your presence,

Now and forever.

Amen