Don’t give up… I love the idea of posting daily prayer. I know it will be good for me. I’ll get there. I suspect what this venture will show is that prayer (for me) is more of a running conversation than an event. Posting creates events, requires a structure which is not characteristic of my prayer life. I have routines and mini daily rituals. Prayer wends its way through those. I’ll ask it to stop and stay. ~PrL
“Which of you, wanting to build a tower, does not first sit down and make an estimate the cost to see whether you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, when you lay the foundation and are not able to finish, all who see it will begin to make fun of you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” Luke 14:28-30
Today is Friday, November 13, 2020. The presidential election has not yet been conceded nor certified, but it does finally seem to be decisively won. The childishness of the administration looks more and more like Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes – complete with courtiers willing to repeat and embellish the nonsense.
Meanwhile, the pandemic continues to spread – Polk County today reporting a 9.38% positivity rating with more cases isolated than have recovered, and 24 current hospitalizations. The hospitals of the county can’t treat the sickest among us, and so we are sent to St Paul and Minneapolis who have their own quickly growing caseloads.
And Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away.
In a year when we want more than anything to rejoin our comfort groups, we must instead count the cost and be adults, placing our emphasis on a longer view. This is, obviously, not a strength of our culture which has been raised on the proclamation that immediate gratification (especially in consumer behavior) is our duty and a top feature of national security.
Loving God, without you, we are truly sheep without a shepherd. Following Jesus is to count the cost of our actions and inactions, seeking the common good, knowing that for most of us, it will come with an element of sacrifice. Grant us strength to be good, to be faithful, to be patient, to be loving toward those who have no choice but to put themselves at risk for us, for others. Shield and protect those essential to society through us, in our willingness to join our sacrifice to theirs. This doesn’t seem to come naturally, but let it be so. Amen
Oops. I guess I can’t post this from my phone. So another late day. Really late.
Today is Thursday, November 12th, 2020. I have to take it back – as I often do with God. I am not ready in any way for snow. I am ready to concede, to accept that a new season has begun and that it is fair and right for it to snow, but I’m not able to embrace it with a glad and willing heart. Beyond acknowledging its beauty, I’m just not there.
This is a minor problem, and my only options are to adjust my attitude or be a weather grump. But what about this issue on a bigger scale? What about the times we can’t accept the “Ecclesiastes’ season” in which we find ourselves? What do we do with God when it’s all wrong, when the time we are in is not a time we can accept or deal with? How do we pray to a God by whom we feel abandoned?
Well, there is good company in scriptures. Jonah, Job, the prophets, the psalmists, Jesus, Paul…. these come quickly to mind. It seems there are more examples of honest, raw emotions of anger and confusion and hurt addressed to God than we might expect. Even the “chosen ones” begin with denial – I think in every case. Transparency is a modern term, but an old value, one practiced in prayer by all of these biblical folk. God doesn’t need pious or forced praise, or our hands thrown up in blind obedience. The incarnations of God’s word – from creation to Christ – are to bridge all gaps, to open every portal.
God of all of us, you created all our bits and parts, lovingly forming the intricacies we are still discovering within our own bodies and brains. When we are out of sync – physically, emotionally, spiritually – grant us a sense of your presence holding our parts together, giving us time to unplug and reconnect, giving us options and healing. When we cry out to you, let it be honest, holding nothing back, for you have held nothing back from us. Grant us the calm and peace in your presence and in the caring presence of those you entrust with this mission of love. We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught this. Amen
Today is Wednesday, November 11th, 2020. As it rose this morning, (I was up!) the sun danced off a coating of ice on tree trunks and twigs, dazzled on four inches of fresh snow and open water visible through the trees. It’s hard to hate it. And maybe we need this to remember that a new season is upon us. Time to get out the winter-wear and snow shovel, time to put the garden requiem behind us. What is undone will be left undone – and it will be okay.
God of all questions, in last week’s scripture, Jonah kept trying to run from your presence. In this week’s readings, Isaiah in a vision and fishermen at their nets also object to their calling, but concede their former lives, leaving everything familiar behind. “Who shall I send?” you asked. “Send me, take me. Here I am,” they responded. Grant us this trust, this passion for your will and ways. Help us take up your work with a glad and open heart. We pray in the name of Jesus who taught this. Amen
Here it is, Monday at 5pm.
Last month, I randomly decided that November is the month for me to organize (i.e. radically change) my life. Some improvements are becoming familiar, forming a discernible path in the thicket of things. Replicating a daily pattern of new disciplines, however, is reminding me of poor Sisyphus pushing his boulder. Suddenly, it’s Monday at 5pm. The boulder goes tumbling back down the hill.
Posting Daily Prayer will be very helpful and good for me. I don’t have a long-standing spiritual discipline and I’ve enjoyed the process in my two attempts. But, I also need to realize that I am not a lark, morning is a struggle and source of shame more than anything else. Recognizing my circadian rhythm and working with it is my best hope. Believing the virtue of morning people and longing to be among you, I will write daily prayers at night, scheduling them to be posted at 6am for those fortunate souls whose bodies cooperate with my ideal.
So, I apologize to anyone who looked this morning or this afternoon. Please try again. My intention is to post prayers Monday through Saturday – Sunday being the day worship is posted.
God of all times and rhythms and patterns, thank you for this day; for the gentle rain – for the calm, quiet way it has of soothing and cloistering. The dazzle and shadows of sunlight conceal; drizzle mutes colors and sends our eyes to details and textures and nuance. We have needed sunshine. Today we need the rain. Let our nation heal. Help us appreciate the nuance and texture of our lives together, blur the borders and sharp edges, let the colors run together in the rain. Amen
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Today is Saturday, November 7th, 2020. The sky here is hazy today. Not cloudy, but not clear. Interesting. That maybe fits the political reality of this day. We have a new president elect. We have heard the sitting president say he has won. These two things do not belong together. We are back to Ecclesiastes:
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance….
It is a strange and unsettled time of polar opposites and hazy middle ground. Of relief for over half of the nation’s people, and anger or disbelief for the others. I remember that feeling. I felt it four years ago.
God of all people, no parties, no nations, no teams or tribes or institutions, grant us peace. Deep in our collective bones, help us empathize with those who receive the news of today with passion. Willing or dreading the change, change will come. All things change, spiral, form and reform. Grant us a longer vision and a greater hope than the political and cultural world can imagine. Help us be the peace you would bring. We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught this. Amen
Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Today is Friday, November 6th, 2020. The sun is still shining. It is still election week. We are still waiting to learn the results. But, we are leaning into a change today. The votes are shifting, the ‘maybes’ are solidifying, the math is close to a definitive choice.
But, a new anxiety is revealed in the old. We are still, also, dealing with an unpredictable president and, obviously, many who truly feel he is the best candidate, who truly believe what he says to be true, who have taken on his cause as their own.
God of grace, grant both candidates a sense of the future, of the inevitability of change, of the dignity of the office, of a long gaze at our nation’s eyes turned on them in this time of instability and uncertainty. Help our nation draw a deep breath and expel the kinetic energy of anxiety. We pray that the former things may be forgotten, forgiven, released as necessary. Grant us the will to be kind and open and to hope in what may become. We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught this. Amen
Luke, verses from chapter 1
And Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, ‘This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.’
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. [We know the particulars of the angel’s message to Mary. He ends with this] And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.
Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
Today is Thursday, November 5th, 2020. The sun is still shining. It is still election week. We are still waiting to learn the results. My choice for readings today may seem a bit odd. I am not in favor of rushing the seasons… I’m generally too far behind in the one I’m in to want the next thing… and that non-rush to the next thing is my point in choosing this reading for today.
There is no rushing some things. As a nation, we are in a pregnant pause. Something is coming to birth – one way or another that baby will be born – but seasons, births, pandemics, bird migrations, and election results – these things have their own timing, and we have very little influence over them.
Still, it is hard to wait. It’s hard to look at the news, to google ‘latest election results’ and find that we are still pregnant. Still waiting. Still holding our collective breath.
Breathe. The burden of birth is not ours to bear. Let the pangs of labor wash over you – they are not yours, anxiety and pushing will not help.
God of new beginnings and ancient ways, grant us faith that you are over all, in all, and through all. Grant us comfort in believing that your will and ways are not hurried or forced upon us, but come to fruition in the fullness of time. Grant us courage in trusting that, no matter the result of this election, no matter the changes – welcome or not – that the election will bring, we find a truer life, a higher dignity, and an ongoing calling in being your hands and feet, your words of struggle for justice and reconciliation, and creating a good life open to all. We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught this. Amen
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Today is Wednesday, November 4th, 2020. The sun is shining, it’s 70º. My young cats have the zoomies; racing around the house from floor to the top of a living room chair, flying 6 feet onto the dining room table, crossing it in a bound, and sailing over the two steps down into the porch where they stop to wrestle. Two minutes later, they begin the race again, this time up the stairway. Their pent-up energy likely has more to do with the weather and their age and the phases of the moon than our national election, but I suspect we share their zoomie impulses. This election has race reached terminal velocity, and it’s sudden stop, it’s necessary point of pause, of tedious, careful counting and recording and accuracy leaves us breathless.
Breathe, open your windows, take a walk, stretch as far as you can in every way you can.
The trouble with life is that we find ourselves in one of Ecclesiastes’ seasons knowing that others are in its opposing pair, or in another time altogether. While we weep, others are laughing; we may be sewing, mending, while others are tearing apart; we long to embrace, others are gathering stones; we begin the dance while others are at war. Communal times are rare.
O God of Peace, hold us tight. Open our minds and eyes and hardened hearts. Release our stiff necks so that we may move. Grant that we may not hunker down into defensive or offensive frozen postures and attitudes. Remind us that when others mourn, we are to grieve with them and lift them to you in prayer; when others raise angry, ugly fears, we are to offer balm not blame. Grant us strength and grace to uphold all of our siblings born from your creative hand with the honor, patience, and dignity we would have them hold out to us. We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught this. Amen
Prologue to the gospel of John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Today, is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. The sun is shining, the angle noticeably at a slant, lending the landscape a richness and depth the top-down summer sun does not. Leaves are down now, allowing the trees to reveal their species particular forms. We can see through into areas obscured by summer’s green as we drive along county roads or gaze out of windows. November has the peace of space – cleaning up after perennials die back, anticipating the snow soon to come. It is often a quiet month in nature.
Breathe in this clean, cool air, deeply fill your lungs. Today’s election seems ominous, so much is at stake whichever candidate wins. Breathe, gaze into the woods, over the fields, beside the still waters. Absorb the light of this physical day and let it, like Christ, fill your heart and mind. Be at peace, knowing you have done your part, and that tomorrow, also, will dawn. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Loving God, we pray for a peaceful election night. We pray for a decisive result. We pray for compassion and patience and the work of your spirit, not only in our nation, but among all people, toward unity and empathy and difficult love for those we might call enemy. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in rulers, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth,
and in that day their plans perish.
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help,
whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth,
the seas, and all that is in them; who keeps promises forever;
who gives justice for the oppressed; and food to those who hunger.
The Lord sets the captive free.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
the Lord upholds the orphan and the widow, but frustrates the way of
The Lord shall reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Today, I pray for the leaders we will elect tomorrow. Loving God, I pray that the men and women we choose will have sensitive hearts. Grant me, as well as our leaders, your heart of gracious concern for my neighbors. I pray that you will use my vote to promote restoration and compassion to your people and to our land itself.
Grant us peace, grant us hope, grant us your vision beyond this day.
Grateful for your love, we pray.
10 June ~ Make me an instrument of thy peace
6 June ~ My open door
2 June ~ How long, O Lord
Daily prayer took a break while Pr L was gone.