Tag Archives: prayer

Colored Pencils for Praying and Playing

Broken Colored Pencil Tips. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.
Colored Pencil Shavings in Trash. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.

After getting out the colored pencils on Sunday, we’ve used them everyday this week! So grateful to have found FREE RESOURCES to help us pray and learn and simply pass the time during this period of staying home for the good of all. Note: click on the name of the each organization below for more information.

Praying with Mandalas. Photo: TLClark, 3/16/2020.
  • Tuesday: Watching and Learning to Draw with Paula Rotschafer in her public Facebook Group The Creative Quarantine – my cow just makes me laugh!
Drawing a Cow with The Creative Quarantine. Photo: TLClark, 3/17/2020.
A Prayer from Illustrated Ministry. Photo: TLClark, 3/18/2020.

Be well, Friends!

Musing: Worship in the Time of COVID-19

Sunday Morning Sun on Roses. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.

The roses had graced the kitchen table for more than a week.
On Sunday they became altar flowers.

In this time of physical social distancing
and with a householder in a high-risk category,
we opted to worship God at home.

Come, let’s sing out loud to the LORD!
Let’s raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation!
Let’s come … with thanks!
Lets shout songs of joy…!

Psalm 91:1-2, Common English Version

There were plenty of options to watch worship.
But I opted to create something a bit more hands-on.
(It might have something to do with the ministerial training in me.)

After Worship, 3/15/2020. Photo: TLClark.
  • SINGING using a keyboard and the songbook Songs & Prayers from Taize;
  • READING from a Bible, the Revised Common Lectionary passages for the day (can be found online at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library);
  • PRAYING for others using an intercessory prayer from The New Century Hymnal;
  • LISTENING and humming, and singing along to the “Lord of Light” CD by the St. Louis Jesuits (Bob Dufford, S.J.; John Foley, S.J.; Tim Manion; Roc O’Connor, S.J.; and Dan Schutte);
  • and PRAYING as the Spirit led with paper and colored pencils.
John Praying with Colored Pencils. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.

But the time is coming–and is here!–
when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:23a, Common English Bible

In ordinary times we gather on Sunday morning with other Christians.
For now, this works.

Be well, Friends.

Please wash your hands
and keep a physical distance from others.

And, if it’s in your spirituality, offer a prayer today for patients and their families,
for the the many, many people working to care for those who are sick,
for researchers and lab workers,
for decision makers,
and for everyone who’s regular routine has been upended.

Musing: Baptism and Buttons

Bowl of Water with Blue Buttons. Photo: TLClark, 1/12/2020.

For local churches who follow the Revised Common Lectionary last Sunday was “The Baptism of Christ.” It is one of those holy days on the liturgical calendar that I rather like. Not only does it go without notice in the wider world, it has few – if any – expectations associated with it.

Remembering Baptism. Photo: TLClark, 1/12/2020.

Since I was leading worship for a colleague, I wanted to use water in some way to help us remember our own baptisms and the promises we have made to follow Jesus.

Plain bowls of water seemed boring (i.e., not visually interesting). Buttons have no liturgical significance. But I wanted something in the water and was reluctant to buy blue “stones.” And I have plenty of blue buttons on hand!

Blue Buttons. Photo: TLClark, 1/12/2020.

One image of baptism is to “take of the old and put on the new” – symbolized by the baptismal candidate wearing a white gown. I refrained from suggesting it Sunday, but maybe the buttons could be used to secure the new.

On a more serious note, here is a prayer from the Confirmation liturgy adapted for use on The Baptism of Christ Sunday.

By your Spirit, almighty God, grant us love for others, joy in serving you, peace in disagreement, patience in suffering, kindness toward all people, goodness in evil times, faithfulness in temptation, gentleness in the face of opposition, self-control in all things.  Then strengthen us for ministry in your name.  Amen.

Adapted from Order for Confirmation: Affirmation of Baptism in Book of Worship, United Church of Christ.

Musing: Persistence and God

My beloved and I tend to worship God with other Christians twice every weekend: with a Roman Catholic parish on Saturday evening and with a congregation of the United Church of Christ on Sunday morning.

One benefit is getting to sing a wider variety of hymns.

Another is hearing two different sermons on the same Biblical text. (Or, in my case some weeks, hearing one sermon on Saturday and preaching a sermon on Sunday.)

I cannot tell you most of what either preacher said this last weekend. Which is pretty normal. Even when I’m the preacher I don’t remember much of the sermon the next day. Just a main point or two. Or maybe a good illustration.

The text last weekend was the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge.

18 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” 

Luke 18:1-5 (NRSV)

It’s a parable, a story to make us think. As a parable, there is more than one way to interpret it – even when an interpretation is given in the text (see Luke 18:6-8).

Today I’m remembering the persistence of the widow and the call to not lose heart in prayer – individually (my own life), communally (in the life of the congregation), and world wide. Keep praying. It may not change the situation directly. But it may change me and my response to what is happening. Don’t give up.

But I’m also reconsidering the widow. Who is she, really? Me? You? Us?

Who is she pestering in her persistence? If we are the widow, does that make God the unjust judge?

What if the widow is God? God is the persistent the one. God is the one who never gives up. God pesters the unjust (me?) until the unjust relents and does the right thing.

It’s a parable. Told to make us think.

Thanks be to God for Fr. Michael for naming the widow as God and for all who cause us to rethink what we thought we knew.

Musing: Prayer

“[Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'”  – Luke 11:1 NRSV

Who taught you to pray?

“My sister,” was the quick, first answer when I asked the congregation last Sunday.  I have to admit that I was a bit surprised.  But I shouldn’t have been.  Our siblings – biological or spiritual – teach us all kinds of things when we pay attention.  Why wouldn’t a sister be a teacher of prayer?

Other answers were more along the lines of what I expected.  More than one mother taught the bedtime prayer “Now I lay me…”.   At least one father made sure the family said grace at mealtime.  A grandmother was mentioned.  And a Sunday school teacher.

Earlier in the worship service the three children in the small crowd, their father, and I enjoyed Tim Ladwig’s beautiful interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer.  Ladwig’s illustrations in this children’s book are exquisite and a great way to talk about the meaning of each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer in ways younger children – and the rest of us – can understand.

DSC02572

Whenever I preach on the prayer, I remember one question from the old Evangelical Catechism:  “What is prayer?”

101.
What is prayer?
Prayer is the conversation of the heart with God
for the purpose of praising [God],
asking [God] to supply the needs of ourselves and others,
and thanking [God] for whatever [God] gives us.
Ps. 19:14. Ps. 34:3. Ps. 103:1-4. Matt. 6:6. Matt. 7:7- 8. Matt. 18:19-20. Matt. 21:22. Ps. 92:1. 1 Tim. 2:1-2. 1 Thess. 5:17.

Evangelical Catechism, https://www.ucc.org/beliefs_evangelical-catechism

“Prayer is a conversation of the heart with God.”

A conversation.  Speaking and Listening.

For praise. For help. For giving thanks.


I didn’t use it last Sunday, but here’s my favorite prayer by Saint Francis.

The Prayer before the Crucifix by Saint Francis

Most High,
glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
true faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
Lord,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.

May it be so.

Lent.05: Faith

Palm Prints

Early in the morning, as Jesus and his disciples were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered from the root up.  Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look how the fig tree you cursed has dried up.”

Jesus responded to them, “Have faith in God!  I assure you that whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea’—and doesn’t waver but believes that what is said will really happen—it will happen.  Therefore I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you will receive it, and it will be so for you.  And whenever you stand up to pray, if you have something against anyone, forgive so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your wrongdoings.”[d]

[d] Mark 11:26 is omitted in most critical editions of the Greek New Testament And if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your wrongdoings.

Mark 11:20-26, Common English Bible (c) 2011

This is one of those teachings of Jesus – one that is misused every time it is quoted to imply that someone – you, me, the grieving parent, the bereft spouse, the lonely or the sick or the underemployed or the __(fill in the blank)__ – does not have enough faith.  In the face of pain and suffering and overwhelming obstacles in ordinary human lives I refuse to think that someone’s faith is not good enough or that it is not sufficient; measuring another’s faith is never in my job description.

I do believe in prayer and encourage regular, honest communication with God – conversations where we ask, we listen, and we are somehow changed.

“Believe” is not a head thing.  It is a heart thing and it has everything to do with faith in action.  When a creed begins “I believe …” it means “I give my heart and life to …” or “I give myself, body and soul to ….”.   So when we pray and believe we’re offering our lives as part of the answer.

If we are talking about mountain-sized issues of justice – from immigration to racism to truly welcoming our LGBTQ siblings in Christ to addressing climate change – we must do do more than pray.  We must also act.  And, to borrow Jesus’ words: not waver.

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 5

 

Shelter from the Cold

We have a resident rabbit.  Or maybe it’s a bunny (is there a difference?).  Long ears; fluffy little white tail.  I startled him (her?) the other night when I peered out the window to see how much snow had fallen.

shelter for a bunny

Rabbit hole (lower left); he lives under the sidewalk leading to our front door. Photo: TLClark, 1/29/19.

With snow on the ground, it’s easy to see where the bunny has been and where he takes shelter.

shelter - bunny tracks home

Bunny tracks heading to/from shelter.  Photo:  TLClark, 1/29/19.

Record low temperatures and even colder wind chills are in the weather forecast.  We are being advised to take shelter.  Stay out of the wind, out of the cold.  Stay home if possible.

It is not possible, of course, for so many.  Police, firefighters, EMTs.  Doctors, nurses, aides, janitors, cooks, and all who keep a hospital humming.  Road crews.  Utility workers.  Staffs of nursing home, care centers, and homeless shelters.  Those who must go to work or go without pay.  Those who must go to work or face losing their job.

Schools – including universities – are closed.  Some small business owners are opting to shut their doors for a day or more.

Other businesses will be open and are likely to have customers.  Gas stations.  Grocery stores.  Pharmacies.  Medical clinics.  Some (most?) eating establishments.

The Lord will protect you from all evil; God will protect your very life.  The Lord will protect you on your journeys – whether going or coming – from now until forever from now.    – Psalm 121:7-8 CEB

Guide us all, O God, with your wisdom that we might make good and sound decisions about our coming and going in dangerous weather.  Shield from harm all who serve to keep others safe.  Amen.