Yesterday Today Tomorrow

In prayer,
we say the name
that gives us hope:
JESUS.

In song,
we raise the name
that brings us peace:
JESUS.

With shouts,
we cry the name
that brings us healing:
JESUS.

You who are the same
yesterday
today and
tomorrow
stay with us and love us
yesterday
today and
tomorrow
through seasons of change
of heartache of struggle of love
yesterday
today and
tomorrow
through tears and praise
and lament and delight
yesterday
today and
tomorrow
be who you are forever and always.

We long to be made new,
we are desperate to leave the past behind us,
but you have brought us this far and
you have promised to continue.
Stories and experiences
shape us like ancient stars shape the night sky,
so do not teach us to turn our backs
on what has been but to listen
for stories of what may be.
Teach us not to start over in fear
but to wade in every water and to walk
through every wilderness with the patience
of hearts that trust you.
Teach us not cynicism but curiosity
so that our souls might sing gratitude
and our tongues speak prophecies
of your love and glory
for as long as we have breath to give.

To you, the One who is worthy,
to you in whom the angels delight,
to you alone at the beginning and the end,
to you we bring our prayers and our whole lives this day. Amen.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Sunday Prayer: Beginning Again

For the hope that You can bring about a new thing,
for the knowledge that You have already done it:
we give thanks with a deep breath.

For the ways that we have walked and wandered,
for the journeys that You set before us now:
we give thanks with a deep breath.

For the many tears that have marked these days and years,
for the friends and the grace that have dried them:
we give thanks with a deep breath.

For the return of the Word in flesh, in love, in glory,
for the Echo that calls us ever onward,
we give thanks with a deep breath.

For the dance that calls us to rest from work,
for the shout of lament that returns us to the work again,
we give thanks and we take a deep breath.

For snow and fog and rain that seem to slow our worlds,
for flood, storm and quake that tremble the earth,
we give thanks and we take a deep breath.

For light that reveals truth and comforts fear,
for shadows that allow questions and welcome seekers,
we give thanks with a deep breath.

For all that we have learned by head and heart,
for all that we do not know and for surprises still to come,
we give thanks with a deep & humble breath.

For every beginning, each new dawn and each new calendar,
for every end, beyond which You always remain,
we give thanks with a deep breath.

For faith and proclamation,
for doubt and despair,
we give thanks
and with a deep breath
we trust that You are in all & through all,
full of grace and healing and love and power. Amen.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Midnight on New Year’s

Would that I could escape this second, stretch out from the bubble that is this hour, and touch the hem of your robe there where you wade on the horizon, there where you watch the world go by out-of-sequence, there where you midwife death into birth and mourning into dancing, there where the soft shadows of yesterday’s dawn dance across your holy face with the blazing lights of tomorrow’s sunset. Would that I could be with you beyond time, without panic that joy is something to be lost, without fear that love is only a flower that fades, without despair that healing is beyond the reach of these days. Would that I could — but o! most Eternal God — if I cannot, then hide me in the hem of your robe until I see clearly the limits of the clock and the frailty of my faith.

on Ecclesiastes 3:11b

Monday Muse: The Collective Epiphany

Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of the New Year’s holiday? Really I can take it or leave it. For one thing, it’s a whole lot of hype & fireworks & store sales just to hang up a new calendar. For another, I might be a little resistant to change.

So New Year’s strikes me as a holiday to (1) mourn the past & the unstoppable tide of change, and/or (2) kick & scream in the face of whatever unknown lies ahead.

fireworks_1_bg_070402

It’s better if I just go to sleep and don’t bother seeing in the new year.

Still, New Year’s is one of those holidays to which many churches give a liturgical nod, in part because the themes of New Year’s are well-suited to the celebration of Epiphany: new resolutions and new revelations, contemplating goals and contemplating visions, praying for the unknown that lies ahead and praying to the Unknown that is unfolding.

The good news of Epiphany over New Year’s, however, is its focus on God doing a new thing (whilst anything I do is pretty darn predictable…like finishing the Christmas cookies in one sitting under the guise that I’ll start a new diet tomorrow). Seriously, thank God for doing a new thing, because I’m predictable and I don’t like change so it’s a reasonable guess that “new thing” is not my forte.

But here’s the twist — the surprise, the wonder, the realization: when it comes to Epiphany, the new thing that God is doing just might be us. Take another look at Isaiah 60:1-6:

Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. It’s time, let’s go! And not just you … y’all get up. Second person plural (see the preceding Isaiah 59:21). One & all, here we go! God is your light, God’s glory has crowned your head and ignited the synapses between you. It is your time to shine for God’s sake. Get up!

For darkness shall cover the earth like a fog, and dense clouds will hide all people from one another, but the LORD will arise upon you and God’s glory will be over you. Seriously, it’s time! The grace that you know, the passion for justice that you share, the fellowship that binds you: these are needed to bear witness to the dawn!

Lift up your eyes and look around: nations shall come to your light, people will gather together; your sons shall return from their wars and your daughters shall find healing. Do not be shy or fearful. Look and see the light that you have been given to shine together. Live boldly as the very best community that God has called you to be, and watch how others come to join with you in beaming with God’s Spirit.

Then you shall see and be radiant. Your heart shall thrill and rejoice! You will be surprised by the gifts that are shared — brought by sea and by camel — in joyful praise of the LORD. Let grace beget grace, let joy beget joy, let light beget light, to the glory of God!

You — and me, and us, and all people as far as you can imagine with your arms stretched wide — together we are the new thing that God is doing in this world, for the sake of the world. Beloved Community, there is a Spirit upon your head, a word upon your tongue and a light within your core, and this is the new thing that God has given to you to shape your path … the new thing that God has given to the world to bolster its spirits.

While New Year’s resolutions draw us individually inward for personal reflection & self-development, Epiphany’s revelation draws us outward to community for radiating & gathering & radiating some more. Set your individual goals if you will, but make one of them “Shine with others.” Mourn the past if you need to (I do) and scream at the future if it helps (it does), but participate in the bright new thing that God is doing — which is you, second person plural.

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: We are searching for a light to guide us.
All: Arise, shine for our light has come!
One: We are longing for inspiration to motivate us.
All: The glory of the LORD has risen upon us.
One: We are wishing for the world to change.
All: Look around: people are looking for God’s light in us.
One: We are ready to see what God can do!
All: Our hearts rejoice in God’s glory! We join together to shine!