Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Prayer for Ordinary Time...

Wow. Didn't realize it had been so long since I posted anything. Here is the prayer from this morning's worship service - a service which I led, in the absence of our Senior Pastor, who is on a much-needed, long-awaited vacation/study leave in the south of France. (A good friend, John Notehelfer, stepped in to preach as there was no time or energy for either preparation or delivery!) Unfortunately, I'm not in tip-top shape even for worship-leading, as it turns out. Still in recovery mode from a scary bout of blood clots in both lungs, which required hospitalization for a couple of days and a continuing - now 11 day - recovery and recuperation. I marshaled my energies for the morning, and then pretty much crashed all afternoon, more tired than I can just about ever remember being. Our bodies are indeed 'fearfully and wonderfully made,' and when they get out of whack, one needs to pay attention.

Today is the 2nd Sunday in the season of Pentecost on the church calendar - also called Ordinary Time. And that's what about 99% of life is, isn't it? Ordinary time. Here is a prayer for such a time, beginning with a line from our offertory hymn of the morning:

"...his strength shall bear you up, and nerve your heart, and brace your arm."

There are days, Lord,
when we truly need
to have our 'hearts nerved'
and our 'arms braced.'

There are days, Lord,
when it seems as though whatever it is we are carrying
weighs a couple of tons.

There are days, Lord,
when we need to stop on the road a while,
take a deep breath,
and wait;
wait for your sweet,
sometimes subtle,
yet always reliable
to bear our spirits up.

And for many of us this morning,
today is one of those days.

Some of us have come through
wonderful times of celebration recently -
graduation day,
wedding day,
even a birth-day for beautiful new Isabella Faith.
We're grateful for milestone celebrations such as these,
because they bring us reminders of your good gifts of
grace and goodness,
faith and faithfulness,
connection and commitment.

But because we are frail creatures of dust,
even parties can wear us out,
can cause rough edges in our relationships,
when schedules have to be set,
tasks have to be done,
deadlines have to be met.

So, will you sit with us,
by the side of the road this morning, Lord?
Help us to breathe deeply of your love,
and to wait for your strength to fill us
for whatever comes next.

For others of us today,
celebration has had to be pushed aside to
make way for more urgent concerns:
failing health,
failing bank accounts,
failing relationships,
exhausted resources.
We are truly in need of a roadside rest,
space to wait,
for our hearts to be nerved,
and our arms to be braced,
and our spirits to be borne up by your strength.

And while we're sitting here,
on the side of the roadway of life,
it seems important for us to offer to you
some words of apology and contrition.

Because not one of us can manage to get through a single day,
even a single hour,
without revealing the shadows
of sin and brokenness that mar your image in us.
So, please hear our silent words of confession as we offer them to you:


Amazingly, dear Lord, we must also declare that there are moments,
here and there, once in a while,
when we know that you're with us, at work in us,
reaching through us to others in need,
or simply filling us with deeply joyful gratitude -
because we're alive,
because we're loved,
because we are.
And for these moments, we want to say, 'thank you.'
'Thank you so much."


We've brought gifts of love today, Lord God -
money that can be used to bring the gospel good news
of hope and healing into needy hearts and bodies,
both here and around the world.
We set these gifts aside for holy purposes today,
grateful that we can bring them,
grateful that you will use them.

Prepare our hearts to meet you today,
to hear from your word through your servant, John,
to hear your song of love to us,
even as we sing songs together,
to taste and see that that LORD is good
as we share together in bread and cup.

And then send us out,
arms braced,
hearts nerved,
spirits borne up by your strength,
refreshed from our
and sitting
and waiting,
ready to hit the road again,
with joy that is contagious,
with grace that is generous,
with thanksgiving that is overflowing,
with Jesus himself, alive and well within us.
For it is in his name,
and for his sake that we pray. Amen.