Tuesday, December 10, 2019 — Places of Peace — shelter

Emmanuel who blessed
a bumpy pregnancy on a census journey
a grudgingly offered manger
and rest stops on the way to Egypt,

we pray for peace in the temporary homes
your children find along the path.
Some of them are hospitals, dry shelters,
rehab facilities, foster families,
tents, motels, couch-surf invitations,
animal shelters, airport lounges,
refugee villages, detention centers.

May there be kindness, moments of quiet,
unexpected laughter,
sharing across differences,
peace for the moment, peace for the day,
peace for the heart,
rest for feet, room for breathing,
and more peace,
enough to believe in tomorrow. amen.

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Prayer for Whakaari/White Island

God, we are all tourists,
going somewhere new,
hoping to learn
from other people, other landscapes.

And so we pray for those who came
to the Land of the Long White Cloud,
to listen to tangata whenua,
to honor haka, to hike,
to scan sky and land for birds,
and to walk the amazing volcanos,
who died in this eruption.

Tenderly hold those who grieve,
those who worry about loved ones
who are still missing,
and rescue workers, still waiting
for an opportunity to return.

God of the mountains and of the depths,
rest your cloak on your children.
amen

Ko ngā raorao katoa ka whakarewaina ake, ko ngā maunga katoa me ngā pukepuke, ka whakapāpakutia iho: ko ngā wāhi kōpikopiko ka meinga kia tika, ko ngā wāhi taratara kia papatairite (PT Ihaia 40:4). / Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. (Isaiah 40:4)

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Monday, December 9, 2019 — Places of Peace — churches

Emmanuel, I give you thanks
for all the churches where people find peace —
as sunday school wonder,
beauty of building
in stained glass or hand-smooth pews,
kindness in kitchen and prayer meeting,
in Fair and choir and youth group sardines,

a sanctuary from a violent home,
first light after desperate mourning,
new beginning from a deeply broken time,
moment when pastor or parishioner
passed the peace and really meant it.

And today, I pray for churches that need peace —
in the midst of budget conflict,
search struggles,
anxiety about shrinking membership,
aftermath of misconduct,

and need to offer a place of peace
by giving sanctuary to the frightened,
standing up for justice,
breaking the silence around sexual violence.

The angels sang “peace on earth,”
may that be so in our earth-bound places
that strive to sing of heaven. amen.

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Prayer after the Pensacola Shooting

O Holy One,
comfort, O comfort, your people
gathered together from many places —
those who call you
Emmanuel, Adonai, Allah.

Speak tenderly to Pensacola
and to parents and friends
of those killed —
Joshua Kaleb Watson,
Mohammed Sameh Haitham,
Cameron Scott Walters,

and gently lead those who care
for those still injured.

Whatever it takes to end the violence —
ways of the heart made straight,
valleys of terrorism lifted up and exposed,
and mountains of hatred brought low,

guide us to these ways,
the ways of peace. amen.

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Prayer after the Pensacola Shooting

O Holy One,
comfort, O comfort, your people
gathered together from many places —
those who call you
Emmanuel, Adonai, Allah.

Speak tenderly to Pensacola
and to parents and friends
of those killed —
Joshua Kaleb Watson,
Mohammed Sameh Haitham,
Cameron Scott Walters,

and gently lead those who care
for those still injured.

Whatever it takes to end the violence —
ways of the heart made straight,
valleys of terrorism lifted up
and mountains of hatred brought low,

guide us to these ways,
the ways of peace. amen.

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Sunday, December 8, 2019 — Places of Peace

Bears Ears, Sacred Place of Peace

The second week of Advent is the week of peace and so I think of the places where I find peace and the places for which I pray peace.

God, you choose real places to meet us.
Our hopes and fears were met,
not in the clouds,
but in the little town of Bethlehem.

You continue to meet us in real places —
a grandmother’s kitchen, a seashore,
a decorated urban street, a snowy backyard,
the chapel of a prison, the lap of a tired person,
Bears Ears, Mecca, Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

We continue to ask for peacemakers
and peace sustainers
in Syria, Yemen, Mexico, Libya,
Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia,
where peace is shattered in pieces
and so many lives have been lost this year.

May these be the manger in our time. amen.

In this detail from de la Tour’s moving portrayal of the birth of Jesus, we see Joseph’s hand tenderly guiding the candle’s light to illuminate the Christ-child’s face. In the Isaiah passage for this day, the prophet foretells the coming of Christ with the language, “Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” In this peaceful painting, Joseph’s first gesture tells of his own fatherly love.
Georges de la Tour, painting in France in the early 17th century, was deeply affected by a religious revival based upon the teachings of the 12th century mystic, Francis of Assisi.  Art in the Christian Tradition, Vanderbilt.

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Saturday, December 7, 2019 — Stories of Hope — Your Favorite

Emmanuel, we give you thanks
not only for the good tidings of Matthew and Luke
but all the stories that have shared hope
in written word and movie and song
in the years that have passed —
from early legends
to a golden book on a grocery store rack,
from The Gift of the Magi to The Grinch,
from Miracle on 34th Street to Black Nativity
from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
to A Piñata in a Pine Tree
and for these … (please add your favorite in “comments”)

Emmanuel, we find your story
in the pages of scripture
and the whispers of all our storytelling.
Help us in this Advent season
to become your story-tellers of hope for our time. Amen

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