Last summer, just as I was preparing for my writing retreat at the family cabin, I received an invitation from Rev. Martha Spong to contribute to a book project. Spong is the Executive Director of RevGalBlogPals, founded in 2005 to minister to and with clergy women around the world.
The Words of Her Mouth is a collection of 150 original psalms written by ten women who are Christian pastors and leaders representing diverse races, orientations, and denominational affiliations. Each writer composed fifteen psalms in conversation with the Biblical texts.
The writing assignment was the most writing fun I think I’ve ever had. I was assigned one of my favorites — Psalm 63, the psalm we often sing in morning prayer service of the Academy for Spiritual Formation. (The other psalms with which I dialogued for this book are Psalms 9, 20, 28, 37, 48, 56, 72, 83, 92, 101, 114, 121, 135, and 144.)
These words from Psalm 63 caught my attention: “I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” Then I wrote about how, when I can’t sleep at night, I think of and focus on everything else except God! (What funny creatures we are!) My Psalm 63 closes with this intention, “Next time I cannot sleep, may I remember the saints through the ages who awoke in the night.”
I hope you’ll enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing for it. You’ll find it at Amazon and your favorite booksellers.
For several years I have followed the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle from the World Council of Churches. Each week throughout the year we are invited to pray for countries and and the people who live there. Over the course of the year, we pray for the nations and peoples of the entire world.
The ordering of the countries is the same every year. So I was amazed to find that the prayers for this week are for the countries and peoples of Iran, Iraq, and Syria. (God timing!) Here are the intercessions from the prayer cycle website:
We are thankful for:
the resilience of the people who remain in Syria, Iraq and Iran, despite constant threats and ongoing violence
the relief and assistance that has been provided to so many
those who have made a new home for refugees fleeing from these countries
those who have worked continually for peace, justice and reconciliation.
We pray for:
an end to the violence racking these battlefields of global powers
political leaders emerging in these countries who will pursue peace, the common good, and human rights of all groups
the international community to pursue policies that will result in acceptable, just peace for all involved
greater openness to welcoming those displaced or fleeing from these lands, desperately seeking safety and wellbeing.
And I add these prayers:
For the leaders of the world, especially our president and his advisors, that they may have hearts of wisdom and compassion. God, in your mercy. Hear our prayers.
For those who live in war-torn places, that they may know your presence with them, that they may be freed from fear, that they may be comforted in their distress. God, in your mercy. Hear our prayers.
For those who serve in the military and their families in these times of uncertainty, that they may know that your love surrounds them. God, in your mercy. Hear our prayers.
For all of those who mourn and who are afraid, that they may be comforted by your loving embrace. God, in your mercy. Hear our prayers.
For all people and all the earth, that your healing and peace might come upon us. God, in your mercy. Hear our prayers.
God, in your mercy, hear all of these prayers, those spoken out loud, those spoken in our hearts, and those prayers we don’t even know we are praying. You hear all these prayers; indeed, you hear the prayers of the whole creation. We pray in the name of the One who came to bring peace to the world. Amen.
Nine of us gathered this morning in The Upper Room Chapel to pray with and on behalf of the world. Two guests from Colorado joined us. We sang, prayed, and lit the first candle of Advent, the candle of peace.
Our candle lighting prayer by Steve Garnaas-Holmes:
Loving God, you are our peace;
prepare our hearts for your coming.
Forge the swords of bitterness into plows of blessing;
till the soil of our souls for your springing forth in us.
Remove our heart’s defensive armor,
clothe us in light alone,
and pierce our wide-open hearts with your love.
By your Spirit in us, may we be at peace:
awake, and ready to welcome your presence.
“We all need this time of Advent to slow us down, to open our ears to God’s quiet voice, to guide us through the chaos of the consumerist culture that Christmas has become.” Child of the Light provides tools to help you find your quiet center. Our eCourse invites you to find that quiet center with friends old and new. Enter with Beth into readings and reflections inspired by the season’s carols and hymns. Your spirit will be lifted and your mind quieted. The experience extends past Christmas to Epiphany, encouraging you to live into the joy of Christmas beyond seasonal celebrations.
I woke up this morning to a world without you.
You were my bright morning star and confidante.
Cheerleader and librarian.
Theologian and comic foil.
When we sat down to talk,
No time was wasted on chitchat, sports, or weather.
We took deep breaths and dove deep.
Last week in the hospital,
I asked, “Are you scared?”
“Yes,” you said.
“Shall I say a prayer?”
“Loving God, give wisdom to the doctors
and comfort to your beloved one.
Let him know he is not alone,
but is surrounded with love and light.”
The last few days you haven’t been responsive.
But yesterday, hospice on the way,
You squeezed my hand and turned your face toward mine,
Giving me the gift of your blessing.
I prayed for your final journey.
“Loving God, give comfort to your beloved one,
To the family and friends who love him so much.
Let him know he is not alone,
but is surrounded with love and light.”
Today you sit down to talk with angels.
No time is wasted on chitchat, sports, or weather.
You are taking deep breaths and diving deep.
On All Saints’ Day, it is not just the saints of the church that we should remember in our prayers, but all the foolish ones and wise ones, the shy ones and overbearing ones, the broken ones and whole ones, the despots and tosspots and crackpots of our lives who, one way or another, have been our particular fathers and mothers and saints, and whom we loved without knowing we loved them and by whom we were helped to whatever little we have, or ever hope to have, of some kind of seedy sainthood of our own.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.
I’m excited about two recently released books with connections to Weavings.
The Upper Room Disciplines 2020, a lectionary-based daily devotional, features 53 writers who were contributors to Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life. I’m honored to be one of them, writing the meditations for the week of October 12–18, 2020. Marjorie J. Thompson writes the foreword for the book. The 53 authors include many friends and beloved writers, among them: Kathleen Flood, Luther Smith, J. Barrie Shepherd, Wendy Wright, Roberta Bondi, Michael Downey, Rachel Hackenberg, Don Saliers, Jan Johnson, Kristen Vincent, Gerrit Dawson, Marilyn McEntyre, Mark Burrows, Deborah Smith Douglas, and Kara Lassen Oliver. Available now at your favorite bookseller.