Prayer for Tigray Region, Ethiopia

God, we pray for the suffering
of the Tigray region,
from ethnic cleansing that calls
some of your children –
despised and rejected,
stricken, afflicted, bruised,
by a perversion of justice
cut off from the land of the living.

We pray for those grieving
murder in the streets,
and prevention of burying their dead.
We pray for those raped
whose lives are forever changed,
and for villages destroyed,
homes looted, atrocities beyond
the limits of ongoing warfare.

We pray for those who flee massacre
to refugee camps in the Sudan.

We pray for intervention
with the strength of the United Nations,
for support of the ongoing witness
by Amnesty International
of the human rights abuses,
the departure of
Amharans and Eritrians
and, as people die from starvation
for the opening of blocked access
for humanitarian aid.

We pray through all the holy names
of God,
who does not quench
a dimly burning wick. amen

(with allusions to Isaiah’s suffering servant songs)

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Prayer for Romania for Mărțișor

God, I celebrate with Romania
on this Mărțișor – first day of spring,
glad for my friend
who shares her tradition
of the red and white string
worn from this March 1
until the day when trees bloom,
and then hung on the trees.

I confess, Holy One,
that I know so little
about my friend’s home –
joys, sorrows, traditions, crises –
because I wrap myself  
in my own country
as if it were all the world.

I had never seen the sculpture
of Constantin Brâncuși,
read the poetry of Andrei Codrescu,
nor did I know the tragedy
of two covid hospital fires
in the last few months.

Hear my prayer for Romania,
and for my own knowing,
small as a ladybug,
other symbol of Mărțișor,

on this first day of March,
first day of spring,

until I hang my small
red and white symbol of hope
on all the blooming trees
of all the world. amen

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Holy Communion Liturgy for March 7, 2021

This is my twelfth month sharing a service of Holy Communion designed for communities of faith in which all or many are sharing worship in their own homes with a few others or alone.

I am grateful to LL Kroouze DuBreuill  for the photograph from her at home February Communion, offering the insight that we make something of the Communion we share that will feed ourselves or others, even when it is called “foolishness” by those who claim wisdom. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20b)

This month I do touch on the scriptures of the Revised Common Lectionary, lightly, and in ways that do not require their use by those who follow the Narrative Lectionary or another way of choosing Sunday morning texts.

This communion liturgy is shared freely with churches. Please  use or adapt pieces of this service helpful to the worship you plan. You may abridge or add freely language, music, gestures, and practices familiar to your faith community.  

Announcement … for Sunday, February 28, or Monday, March 1

Next Sunday, March 7, we will share Holy Communion in morning worship. Those who bless and receive the sacrament at home, please prepare food for yourself and those with you as traveling rations on the Lenten journey. It may be a slice or roll of bread, a corn tortilla, Naan, or rice cake and a cup of juice — perhaps grape or cranberry — or wine, with or without alcohol. (For those who will be receiving the sacrament in a physically distanced gathering, the elements will be prepared for you / or please bring the elements you have prepared for yourselves from home.)

Celebration of Holy Communion

Invitation to Holy Communion, reflecting on the Ten Words of the Exodus (May be in one voice, responsive, or eight voices)

God brought us to this table, a place safe from human slaveries.
We shall not treat our traditions like gods, or make idols of a particular Bread and Cup.

We will not imply that a sacrament shared at a kitchen table is less real than any other, for that is to misuse God’s name.

We remember that this virtual experience is worship, and keep it holy. Just because we can turn off our video to retrieve laundry to fold, and then fold it, we don’t. Working twenty-four-seven is too like a parable of morning-after the bigger barn project, and there is no beatitude ‘Blessed are the multitaskers.’

This virtual time is a sabbath to God. This sacrament’s consecration is in the story that stretches back to beyond the light years of light years.

We honor the communion of saints and name the ones precious to each of us personally, and then acknowledge those we do not know who have passed into grace, especially those who do not look like us, speak our language, love as we love, worship as we do – for their heritage is our heritage and the future of their children is our future.

We set down this sacred offering, confessing our complicity in things that kill, that betray, that steal (even if it legal) and committing to a reconciliation as real as this Bread and Cup.

We will not bear false news of our neighbors, or share, re-post, re-tweet it, nor will we doom scroll God’s Spirit within us.

We will not covet last year’s service or next year’s service. We will not covet sung kyries and glorias or the simplicity of “Let Us Break Bread Together,” in a time when we do not sing. We will not covet another community’s sophisticated technical platform or the homeyness of a pastor’s dog barking. We will not covet any other experience of the Body of  Christ or the Cup of Blessing than the one we are sharing now.

Words of Remembering

In Lent we come to remember
that there is a time not to eat the stones
even when it seems useful,
and there is a time for a meal scented
with the uneconomical joy
of a broken alabaster jar.

We remember that Jesus
suggested in Bethany that one bowl
with one selection is a good meal,
but served a hillside picnic
with so many leftovers,
their gathered abundance
could be shared with others.

We remember that Jesus
turned over tables in the Temple
and we confess that our church tables
practices, plans and programs,
should be overturned,

until our house be one of prayer
and our table serve compassion
to those most vulnerable.

And we remember that Jesus Christ
sitting among those
whose feet he had washed
at the Passover table
of precious and ancient tradition,
anticipated betrayal and desertion,
pain and even death,

but made a new Covenant
of blessed bread and poured wine
on a global table,
inviting us always to share
from our brokenness and grace.

Prayer of Consecration (from Psalm 19)

O God, the sky speaks your glory and deep space your creation. Daybreak announces hope and starlight sings rest in a language that needs no translation but joy. Nothing is hidden from you, and you make no barriers for human understanding. We are revived, enlivened, warned and comforted. Beyond even the bright and sweet parables of our lives, you free us from definitions of relationship based in dominion and being dominated and you lead us to words of reconciliation and grace. So reconciled, we pray –

Let the Bread of our mouths and the Cup upon which our hearts meditate, be acceptable to you, O God, at this ordinary table and in our lives of redeeming. Amen

(As is community’s tradition in silence or with music playing –  break, touch or lift the bread,
pour, touch or lift the cup)

Sharing of the Elements

Leader: Let us at many tables receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
Unison: We come to Christ in the Bread we share.
Leader: Let us in many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
Unison: We come to Christ in the Cup we share.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Leader: In thanksgiving for this sustenance on our Lenten journey and the grace of holy dispersion in virtual worship, [and cautious re-gathering in familiar pews] we claim the story of Jesus Christ as our own, a path of healing and service, the cross and the ever-present truth of the resurrection. Let us pray ..

O Holy One, we come to you with our weariness and hope. We thank you for the rest and strength of this Communion so that we may re-turn our tables to service in the world and hear your words of guidance every day and every night through Christ who has taught us to pray, saying …
Prayer of Our Savior

Benediction

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A Prayer for Children

God, we pray for the daughters
of Zamfara, Nigeria,
kidnapped in the night,
from Jangebe town,
as many as three hundred taken
from Government Girls Secondary School.

We pray for children unaccompanied
at the US southern border,
seeking to be reunited
with families and sponsors,
waiting in shelters
strained by covid precautions.

We pray for children
endangered in their own homes,
by people who should love them,
or bullied in school,
neighborhood, online,
or struggling just to learn
in this year’s
fractured education.

God, my morning news shows
a pile of sandals
left in the Nigerian dust.

Let me never rest
until we find all the children,
hold them, wash their weary feet,
tell them it’s not some heaven,
but here and now –
that all God’s children
have shoes.

Amen

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Words from Psalm 139 for Countries with no or limited access to Covid-19 vaccine

Where can I go from God’s spirit?
Or where can I flee from God’s presence?
If I ascend to heaven, God is there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, God is there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there God’s hand shall lead me,
and God’s right hand shall hold me fast,

but my global neighbors do not hold me fast,
do not open the hand that holds vaccine,
if I live in one hundred thirty countries
that have received none,
and many others who have received
such limited doses.

For any rise of generosity
in rich countries and manufacturers
to fight vaccine nationalism,
we give thanks.

For a new task force in the UN
and COVAX attempts,
we give thanks.

For anyone receiving an injection
with gratitude,
who cries out that health-justice
should travel on the wings
of everybody’s morning,

we give thanks. Amen

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Blessing for Myanmar

May the memory of Mya Thweh Thweh Khine,
shot before her twentieth birthday
and of those who died this weekend
in protests against the coup
live on in the courage of others.

May the ‘hunger games’ salute
give hope to those young,
and the messages and actions
of other countries in the world
feel like deep support.

In the face of bans and curfews,
barbed wire, tear gas, rubber bullets,
lethal weapons,
threats of ‘loss of life,’
may we offer whatever
is our prayer practice –
mantra, salah, tefillah, intercession
a simple breathing in and out –

for Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyidaw,
for Dawei, Taunggyi, Myitkyina,
and for Chin state,
place of many friends.

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Prayer for Grieving 500,000 Dead of Covid-19 in the United States

Holy One,
who blesses those that mourn
and do not hurry into being comforted,
we sit down into the loss
of those we know,
and those that now
we’ll never have a chance to know.

We grieve the stories they will not live,
the songs they will not sing,
the children they will not have,
the hope they will not offer
to those around them,
the inventions they will not patent,

the art, poetry, ink, music,
shingling a house, legal argument,
good tune-up and tire rotation,
diagnosis, surgical procedure,
gentle placement of a ventilator,
dental cleaning, quilt,
strawberry picking,
produce counter stocking,
life-guard undertow rescue,
lullaby, recipe and vote
that will never be made.

We grieve the birthday candles
on cakes they will never taste.

We grieve for their parents
and their children, their families,
their colleagues and their friends.

We grieve memories slipping away
waiting for memorial services.

We grieve that the very sadness
ebbs away from weariness
or the new whisper of good news.

O God, our masks are wet with tears
and our fingers shake holding balloons
at nursing home windows.

Comfort us, we pray. amen

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Christchurch, Ōtautahi, ten years later

God is in the flowers,
but God was not in the earthquake.

God was in the prayers of the world,
the tears of those who grieve,
the courage of rescuers,
and these ten years of re-builders.

God is never in hurricane winds,
or tsunami, tornado, blizzard,
never in wild fires or war fires.

God walks today
where earthquake has been.
a still small voice,
and flowers in the water,
in Christchurch, Ōtautahi.

The commemoration this year in the summer of Aotearoa is to place flowers on the water in memory and celebration of February 22. I am posting this in my US Eastern time zone on the 21st because it is ow the 22nd there.

I acknowledge that there is still controversy about the Te Reo Māori name of this town, because Ōtautahi refers to a person and that may be considered an incorrect name for a place. I decided to follow the direction of the Māori Dictionary.

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Prayer for Ingenuity and Perseverance on Mars

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established … Psalm 8:3

God, We lift up this NASA Mission,
a six month journey of awe,
to look more closely
at your fingers’ work
in our neighboring planet.

Bless this work of human beings
of whom you are mindful,
and in whom you have created
minds-full
of seeking the gifts of the past
and wisdom for the future.

As you watch this place we call
Jezero Crater, your lake now dry,
and these small things –
Perseverance, the rover,
and Ingenuity, the Marscopter,

so strengthen in each one of us,
both perseverance and ingenuity,
for the living of our days,
whether we rove far,
or we stay close to home.
amen

Photo from NASA, public domain
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Prayer for Texas

God, they are boiling water
and it is simply to drink,
except in places
where there is no power for boiling.

They are lighting candles
when the lights have gone out,
and there are fires.

They face frozen pipelines
and frost-bitten fingers,
icy highways,
desperate nursing homes,
hospitals, and dialysis centers,
waiting lines for propane,
blankets, shelter and food,
new guidelines
for using melted snow.

Mostly, there is this new fear
among the hurricane-wise,
drought-savvy, tornado-ready,
even, thanks to Harvey,
flood-trained,
who are so blizzard-innocent.

As winds, snow, deep cold
endanger lives
across all the country,
and we grieve losses,
encourage those who restore power,
enable vaccine lines,
support those who offer shelter
with as much
pandemic-protection as possible,

we pray especially for those
across southern states,
who learn quickly,
but find themselves saying,
like folks in an old church hall –
“we’ve never done it this way.”

Amen.

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