Archive for the ‘Prayers’ Category

My first experience with pastoral care

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

I just finished this brief article for our Stephen’s MInistry newsletter and I thought I would share it here. It’s a reflection on my first experience of Pastoral care.

I had received many calls from individuals in the church who needed to talk to my Dad; so many that I could often tell when the call would require my Dad to leave to see someone who had suffered an accident or was experiencing a medical emergency. I sensed the fear in George’s voice that day when he called. Jackie had been rushed to the hospital. She was in critical condition. George was scared, and I was as well.

Dad wasn’t home, and Mom was out of town. He didn’t have a cell phone number to call, and I wasn’t sure when he was going to be home. About the only thing I knew at that moment was that George was scared. His wife was very ill, possibly near death, and nobody was there to help me help George. So I did the only thing my 17 year old mind could think of to do. I left my Dad a note, and I got in my car and drove to the hospital in town that was only a few miles from my house. I had no idea what to expect. I was scared. I didn’t know what to say or do. I knew where I could find George but once I found him, I didn’t know what would come next.

When I arrived at the hospital, George was sitting in the emergency room hallway all alone. He had brought his bible with him and he was reading through the Psalms. When I sat down, he started to share with me the passage from Psalms that he and Jackie had read together that morning. I remember him saying to me again and again, “She’s got to be OK. She’s got to be OK. She’s got to be OK.”

But Jackie wasn’t OK.

Jackie never made it out of ICU. She had suffered a massive stroke, and it was quickly apparent to the doctors that they would not be able to save her. I was sitting there with George when the doctor brought him the news that his wife had passed away. I held him as tight as I could and I cried with him. I cried because I didn’t know what else to do, and even though I knew I couldn’t really understand the depth of the emotion that George was experiencing, my heart hurt because I knew George was hurting too.

It wasn’t too much longer before my Dad showed up to the hospital. I remember feeling a great sense of relief because I knew that Dad would know what to say and what to do. At the same time, I remember thinking that I had in some ways failed because I had said very little at all. I had gone to the hospital to help. As I left the emergency room that night, I couldn’t help but wonder if my presence had made any difference at all.

But it was in this very raw experience of unqualified care that I learned the incredible power of being present in the midst of another’s pain. When we had the chance to talk that evening, my Dad helped me see the gift that I had shared that night. When George called me the next day to thank me for sitting with him and asked me to participate in Jackie’s funeral, I felt a sense of affirmation that maybe my presence had made a difference.

It certainly wasn’t my words. It wasn’t because of any training or skill. I hadn’t been to seminary yet and the call that God had placed my life was still undefined for me at that time. It was simply being present in the midst of another’s pain.

Experiences like that night with George remind me that words are overrated, that in many cases, the greatest gift we offer to one another is the gift of our attention, our empathy, our presence, our time, and even our tears.

Jesus said it this way. “Where two are more gathered, I am there.”

Maybe that’s what makes the gift of our presence so remarkable.

A prayer for 2008

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

A Franciscan Blessing (via)

May God bless you with discomfort

At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships

So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger

At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,

So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears

To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,

So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and

To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness

To believe that you can make a difference in the world,

So that you can do what others claim cannot be done

To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen.

A Christmas Poem for Peace

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

The following is a poem that I shared at the end of my message last night at Saturday Night worship.

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,

Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope

And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.

The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,

Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.

Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.

Flood waters recede into memory.

Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us

As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children

It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.

Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,

Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.

At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.

We listen carefully as it gathers strength.

We hear a sweetness.

The word is Peace.

It is loud now. It is louder.

Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.

It is what we have hungered for.

Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.

A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.

Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.?

We welcome the Peace of Christmas.

The God who yearns and waits for us

Monday, November 26th, 2007

The following is a prayer from Walter Brueggemann’s book, “Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann” , a wonderful book of prayers that I have enjoyed using in worship. I shared this prayer during our Saturday worship this weekend.

We are strange conundrums of faithfulness and fickleness.

We cleave to you in all the ways that we are able.

We count on you and intend our lives to be lived for you,

and then we find ourselves among your people

who are always seeking elsewhere and otherwise.

So we give thanks that you are the God

who yearns and waits for us,

and that our connection to you is always from your side,

and this it is because of your goodness

that neither life nor death

nor angels nor principalities

nor heights nor depths

nor anything in creation

can separate us from you.

We give you thanks for your faithfulness,

so much more durable than ours. AMEN.

The incomplete Kingdom

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Over the next several days, I will be posting many of the quotes that I have found important from my readings over the past six months. I have a wonderful wife who types those up for me during her summer break. I archive those quotes here to be used in sermon prep. and teaching, but they are available to all here under the “readings” category.

As I was reviewing some quotes from Brian McLaren’s book, The Secret Message of Jesus, I found this short poem that I wanted to share. If you are interested in more prayers and readings like this, you can check out the “prayers” category here on my blog as well.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of

The magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete,

Which is another way of saying

That the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection…

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:

We plant seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted,

Knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything

And there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something,

And to do it very will.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning , a step along he way,

An opportunity for God’s grace to enter and to the rest.

We may never see the end results…

We are prophets of a future not our own.

Secret Message p.206

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The Prayer appointed for the week

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart our greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever. Amen.

Source: Eastertide

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How I feel right now…

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

if i stopped

if i was quiet for a minute

if i was calm

if i was still

if i turned everyone down

if i switched everything off

if i ceased looking everywhere all at once

if i was silent

if i was still

if i stayed at home

if i didn’t pick up the phone

if i was out even when i was in

if i was silent

if i was still

if i slowed

right

down

if i simply sat

here

there

anywhere

if i stood on my head

and emptied out the contents

if i stopped

would you be there

would you speak to me

would i be able to hear you

would it be worth it?

if i stopped

would it be long enough?

if i was silent

would i hear anything?

if i heard something

would i know it was you?

if i did

would i be interested?

if i was

would i stop again?

Credit to Marko

Disturb us Lord…

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future

In strength, courage, hope, and love.

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A Christmas Prayer

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

holy child of bethlehem, whose parents found no room at the inn; we pray for those who are homeless.

holy child of bethlehem, born in a stable; we pray for all who are living in poverty.

holy child of bethlehem, rejected stranger; we pray for all who are lost, alone, all who cry for loved ones.

holy child of bethlehem, whom herod sought to kill; we pray for all who live in danger, all who are persecuted.

holy child of bethlehem, a refugee in egypt; we pray for all who are far from their home.

holy child of bethlehem, in you the eternal was pleased to dwell, help us we pray, to see the divine image in people everywhere.

david blanchflower; bread of tomorrow.

Lauren’s Service

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

Lauren’s funeral service was beautiful. I didn’t realize how much different a
family responds when a disabled child passes away. For my aunt and
uncle, who had seen their daughter go through such tremendous physical
challenge, it was a blessing to know that Lauren’s physical limitations
had passed and her new life had begun. Both of them shared words at the
funeral, and it was truly a celebration of Lauren’s life. My uncle shared some really funny stories and shared his genuine joy that his daughter was now dancing with Jesus. I think both of them will grieve more than they think in the coming months than they expect, but their faith was so evident during the visitation and her memorial service.  I am so glad
I was able to be there. I also had a ton of fun with my own family on
the way up and back. My other cousin, Clint, is a worship leader in Wisconsin, and he shared with us a song he had written for Lauren. Here it is…

Lauren Elizabeth Alexander 
May 18, 1981
I know a girl who cannot stand and brokenness her thorn.
She hasn’t jumped or danced or run not even once since she was born
but in my dreams I’ve seen her smile in a place I cannot see
and Jesus sands up from his throne,
and He says "run my child to me"
and arm in arm they jump around and tears roll down her face,
and she’s amazed and leaps in awe at this Physicians perfect grace.
Only a moments time has gone since her body’s been set free
but now she understands His plan,
and she gets back down on her knees.
November 12 – Eternity