Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Prayers from Matthew and Esther: For Such a Time as This

These prayers were written with Matthew 10:34-49 and Esther 4:1-17 in my mind and my transgender friends in my heart.

Let us pray.

Speak to us this day, O God,
and humble us to hear your word.
Make us still enough to notice your presence,
Quiet enough to hear your voice,
Brave enough to speak your good news,
and wise enough to follow your spirit.

So often we pray to you for life:
to preserve life, to prolong life,
to guard life, to begin life.
Today we pray something else.
We pray for courage to lose our life for your sake,
and we pray for the wisdom to find it.

As Mordecai challenged Esther to be faithful at all costs,
make us hear the voices of people oppressed,
whose stories challenge our way of life.

We pray for your children everywhere:

For your people who are suffering,
Discriminated against because of their race, gender identity,
sexuality, or religion.
For your people who are fearful,
Faced with losing their access to healthcare or treatment.
For your people who are isolated,
Living in the shackles of addiction or abuse.

Holy comforter, challenger, redeemer,
We know that you are in our midst.
Help us recognize your spirit on the move,
and empower us to join your work.

Help us be your church, reformed and still being reformed.
Help us be your people, formed and still being formed.
Help us boldly share the news of your love,
For such a time as this.

Amen.

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Holy Holy Holy: A Prayer from the Lips of Isaiah

Refrain: Holy are you, Lord of Hosts. Holy, holy, holy.

God of mercy we pray to you,
With all our joys and all our burdens.

Holy are you, Lord of Hosts.
Holy, holy, holy.

Your power is beyond our imagination;
Your grace is beyond our comprehension;
Your presence is beyond our senses;
Your goodness is beyond our wildest hope.

We give you thanks for the movement of your spirit:
In the church and in the world,
In the past and in the present,
In our lives and in our neighbors,
In our hearts and in our minds.

Holy are you, Lord of Hosts.
Holy, holy, holy.

Even as we praise you for your power and your might,
We carry the weight of a hurting world.
Where there is pain, breathe your comfort.
Where there hunger, help us share our bread.
Where there thirst, splash living water.
Where there is weakness, help us know your strength.

Hear the prayers of our hearts,
O God our maker,
and hear the prayers we dare not put to words.
Lift them into your being,
Lift our hearts to your presence.
Into our lives, breathe your love.
Into our silence, breathe your mercy.

Holy are you, Lord of Hosts.
Holy, holy, holy.

In the name of Christ,
In the love Christ,
In the grace of Christ, we pray.
Amen.

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A House Blessing

It’s that time of year. Moving time. As I write this, I look around and see boxes in every corner, signs that it is time to say goodbye to one home and hello to another.  Below is a “house blessing” prayer in the Celtic tradition–a ritual that aims to ask God’s blessing upon each room as well as dedicate the house/apartment/dwelling and all that takes place in it to the service of God.

May this prayer remind you to look for God’s presence in every place, from the kitchen sink to the baptismal font.

Opening: Gather in the entrance of the home, near the door.

Gather with Scripture: A Reading of Psalm 16

Move to the front door.

God of our coming and going, we ask that you bless this simple wooden door. Bless those who knock upon it,

And bless those who answer it.

Bless those who enter through it,

And bless those who exit.

May its locks provide protection and safety

But never exclusion or harm.

 

Move to the Living Room.

God of our sitting and standing, we ask that you bless this living room. Bless the friends and family who will gather here and the laughter that will be shared.

Bless the burdens and sorrows that will be carried here and the tears that will be shed.

O God, bless the movies that will be watched here and the drinks that might be spilled.

May this room soon be filled with happy memories and always with your presence.

 

Move to the kitchen.

God of our cooking and our cleaning, bless this kitchen and the meals that it will bring.

May we taste the goodness of God in every apple pie, the body of Christ in every loaf of bread.

Bless the pots and pans that fill the cabinets.

May their warm contents fill stomachs and soothe souls.

Bless the many dishes that will be washed, rinsed, and dried here.

May each drop of water be baptismal, cleansing, and claiming,

 

Move to the dining room or other table.

A Reading of Scripture: Luke 24:13-31

Place your hand upon the table.

God of our eating and our drinking, bless this table and all those who will gather here.

As we break bread together, help us to recognize Christ among us.

As we dine with friends and family at this table, remind us of the people with whom you dined:

The strangers, the sinners, the outcasts.

Help this table to be one of hospitality.

Help this table to resemble yours. Amen.

Close the ritual by sharing a meal around the table.

 

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Baptism of Christ: Matthew 3:11-17

This coming Sunday is one of my favorites: Baptism of Christ Sunday. It’s an occasion to reflect on who we are, whose we are, and how we are called to live. It’s a reason to remember that we are washed and claimed by a God and a community who love us, and we are marked with an irreversible sign of God’s grace.

"This is my son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

“This is my son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

The lectionary text for this week is Matthew 3:13-17, but I’ve chosen to include verses 11-12, as well. Those two verses give us John the Baptist’s words about Jesus, and they remind us that Jesus was not what the world expected. He wasn’t even what John expected. John predicted a Messiah who would bring fiery judgment. Instead, Jesus was a Messiah who would bring living water.

Matthew 3:11-17  ‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and to you come to me?  But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’

Below is some liturgy I’ve written for this text. May it remind you of the flowing abundance of God’s grace in our lives.

Call to Worship                                                                                

Hear these words from Scripture. “And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” (Gen 1:6)

“Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.” (John 4:14)

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Rev 22:1)

“And early in the morning Jesus came walking towards them on the water.” (Matt 24:25)

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you” (Isa 43:2)

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the waters were divided.” (Ex 14:21)

Let us worship the God of living water.

Let us worship the living God!

Prayer of Confession

God of grace and mercy, we confess that we have sinned against you by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have heard your words of justice rolling down like waters, and yet we often ignore our neighbors’ cries. We have felt the presence of your spirit among us, and yet we are afraid to listen to your voice. Have mercy on us, O God. By your grace, cleanse us. By your providence, help us to learn from our mistakes. By your Holy Spirit, equip us to love and honor you. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Children of God, hear the good news: The grace of the Lord quenches our thirst, and God’s mercy satisfies our hunger. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Amen.

Baptismal Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We truly praise you, almighty God, for your faithfulness to creation through the gift of water.

In water, you provide, nourish, and sustain all life. In water, we are born, and in water we are claimed.

Through water we are connected to one another and to all creation. Through water we are reminded of your covenant promise.

The scriptures tell us the stories of your faithfulness—your faithfulness expressed through the gift of water.

In the time of Noah, you sent a cleansing flood which offered renewal;

through the sign of the rainbow, you gave us a covenant.

In the days of Moses, you led your people Israel out of Egypt through the waters of the sea;

through the parting of waters you gave them freedom.

In the waters of the Jordan, Jesus was baptized and proclaimed as your son;

through the waters of the river, you gave us new life.

Through the baptism of his death and resurrection, you set us free.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon this water, that it may be a sign and seal of your abundant grace.

May the ones who passes through this water find new birth.

May we know that we are cleansed and redeemed, washed and claimed.

May these waters move us all from sin to righteousness as we seek to live as your faithful people.

All praise, honor, and glory to you, O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

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