God on the Street Corner

God was leaning against
a street lamp at 40th & Woodland
as I drove home today:
bulky blue sweatshirt,
forearm set against metal, forehead
buried in forearm, as if
even the thought
of crossing the street
was one too many decisions for the day.
I saw God there, craned my neck
as I cruised through the green light;
if God was exhausted and stationary,
I still had places to go.

Amen and Amen

Come, let us sing praises to the One who hears every prayer,
to the Holy One whose love never fails:
Amen and Amen! With the host of saints and angels,
we worship and say: As you are, so let it be.

As you are full of mercy,
let mercy be abundant
to those who live in the streets
and those who faint with hunger,
abundant for children who live with fear
and for those whose lives are surrounded by warfare.

As you are, so let it be, O God of grace.
Do not hold back peace from those who are persecuted,
nor light from those who wander in need of a vision,
nor comfort from those exhausted by mourning,
nor justice from those in power.

As you are, O God Most High, so let it be.
With the host of saints and angels, we sing,
Amen and Amen!

Amen and Amen, O Alpha and Omega!
You have walked beside our ancestors for generations,
you have given us stories to guide our ways,
you have kept our endings and our beginnings
secure within the palm of your hand.
Blessed are we, for we have known your joy and still
you call us to new heights of wonder and disbelief
to greater depths of discipleship and incarnation.
How can this be, O Living God?

May we have the honor of continuing the song,
teaching the heart of it to our children and
our children’s children’s children:
Amen and Amen! With the saints and angels, Amen!
With all of creation, Amen!
Forever and ever,
Amen!

This prayer is cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals.

Namesake

Each Friday I email a prayer prompt to encourage a pause for thoughtfulness and creativity in our prayer lives. (Sign up here to receive my Friday emails.) Yesterday’s prompt was based on Isaiah 43:1b, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” What is your name, how was it given to you, and how does it continue to shape you? Write a prayer as you reflect on your name.

She is a lamb,
adored and stubborn,
adored for her stubbornness.
She is the beloved and
the lamented:
Rachel.

The shepherdess
who was worth the wait,
she herself did not care to wait
for life’s favor but wrestled
to bear children and
stole the gods.

O Knower of all names,
bless this headstrong Rachel.
Even in my impatience, let me wait
always on you. Bend your ear &
keep my own life faithful
to Rachel’s lament.

Unwilling to Work (reworked)

Dear friends, prayer-writers, and sermonizers:

The lectionary readings for this coming Sunday include Second Thessalonians 3:6-13, which says in summary:

When we were with you…with toil and labor
we worked night and day so that we might not
burden any of you. For even when we were with you,
we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling
to work should not eat. (NRSV)

We’ve heard a similar message repeated in political debates over unemployment benefits, food stamps, and other so-called “entitlement” programs coordinated by our state and federal governments. It’s hard for me to hear 2 Thessalonians 3 without also hearing the condemning tone of those persons (not just politicians!) who view poverty as an indication of character flaw or idleness.

But! When we marry this passage with the whole of scripture (including Sunday’s gospel text of Luke 21:5-19, in which Jesus warns listeners against trusting their security to institutions and popularity, preceded in verses 1-4 with Jesus’ acclamation of the widow’s meager offering) … when we place “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” within the context of the Bible’s good news that God has a soft spot for those who are hungry and poor … then 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 takes on a decidedly different tone!

When we spent time with you and got to know
the joys & stresses of your lives, we saw that life
is not always easy for you. Therefore we worked
even though we had plenty, because it would not be
fair for you — amidst your struggles — to give up
 your daily bread in order for us to feast. And we did not
spend our days pointing out your flaws or scolding
your lifestyles, but instead worked in solidarity with you
to ease the pressures that build up against you.
Learn from us: do not ask others to sacrifice
 their very lives and health so that you can
live comfortably in the status quo (and more!).
Our work — like our faith — is not meant
for personal comfort & gain, but for
the well-being of all people.
Therefore, do not be unwilling to work
in such a way that others are blessed.

I invite us to bring new ears to Second Thessalonians 3, and to set aside the judgment that we hear and the judgment that we may hold ourselves. Take pen and paper, and write a prayer for those who are out of work and those who are out of food. Then find a way to invest your time, your work and your spirit in the efforts to relieve hunger and poverty.

Blessings and peace,
Rachel

Lent 2

Striving for fullness…
Striving for wholeness…
Striving for fullness…
Striving for wholeness…
Striving for fullness…
Striving for … a remnant?
Striving for only part?
Good Lord, God!
How you interrupt me and
capsize the ways that I set out
to accomplish faith! I’ve theologized
the Army’s motto (“Be all you can be, with God“),
idolized fullness without rest and wholeness without need,
but you convert me with a single word: remnant.
“Be a remnant, a piece, a humble fragment
with which I can create my fullness
(not yours). Be for me a part
rather than a whole
so that
I have room
for divine creativity
in the mosaic that can use you
— right there within the bigger picture —
but only if you are not a whole.
Relax already from your
vain striving; come,
be my piece.”
You are
difficult, O God.
I suspect you know that.
But I will seek to be a
piece, only
a piece.
God,
be my peace.