Prayer for Illumination for Matthew 26: 69-75 (Peter’s denial)

God, remind me that it can be
a most ordinary sound —
the backbeat of a pop song
from, you know, that time,
or cicadas,
or something that isn’t a sound at all —
the scent of mother’s cologne,
some popcorn at the youth group,
a match striking, wet dog fur,
or the sight of the sunrise,
a photograph,
or maybe the way a child I love
puts a trusting finger
right in my despicable hand,

as if I didn’t just deny
everything holy
three, twelve, twenty-five times.

I heard the prophesy
and I just didn’t think it would be me.
Everyone in the congregation
has done the same thing.

Remind me before I read these words,
that people are really listening
for something as ordinary and irritating
as roosters –
the thing that makes each of us
run away and cry.

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Prayer before reading Matthew 26:6-13 (anointing)

God, I am praying
also — daydreaming, sleeping,
walking the dog in the sunset,
reading some Facebook posts,
talking with a friend on the telephone.

Wasting the most costly
substance of my time – time.

And some people would suggest
that it could be used
in very many useful, productive ways
for the sake of the poor,
for the vulnerable who need justice.

As I pour it out — my time,
a whole jar of sabbath
contemplation,
wasted time thinking about this story,

it doesn’t really matter if anyone
will remember me.

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Prayer before reading Matthew 21: 12-13 (cleansing of the temple)

God, this is one of those scriptures
where Jesus criticizes someone
who isn’t me. Not.

Help me read it as my church,
even with the rock-bottom no-frills budget.
Jesus is tossing the social justice ministry
and the stewardship drive,
the new choir robes
and the cost-of-living pay increases.

Whoever we are
and wherever we share faith –
we are not perfect at being
a house of prayer for all people.

Whoever we are
and wherever we share faith,
we are caught –
fingers sticky with pigeon feathers.

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Prayer for Egypt, April 9, 2017

Hosanna, God, please save us.
Blessed is the One who come in God’s name.

Blessed today in Egypt
are those who die in your name
with palms in their hands,
songs of children on their lips,
a story of a donkey
leading the way
to a brave entering, a sad going out,
and an alleluia
that can never be denied.

Hosanna for God’s children in Tanta.
Hosanna for God’s children in Alexandria.
Wrap, O Risen One,
not only the bright but brittle palms
of this morning around them,
but gather each to you in paradise,
and send angels of comfort
to push away the heavy stones
of your Coptic people who mourn.

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Prayer for a pastor the day before Holy Week begins

God, could you send me to a scripture
that does not need to be preached next week,
something for me – maybe …

Come unto me all you who visit shut-ins
and are heavy laden with committees
and I will give you rest …

but, if I am honest, I want – inspiration.

I want you to make it easy
for me to say something new,
reality-check – something old fresh,
or just something competent
to go with the music and flowers,

side-step the “today in paradise”
or end of time dilemma,
avoid all the images
of gratuitous painography,

be faithful to all those
sweet, wet-handed pilates
asking me, sometimes in words,
what is truth?

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Praying 1 Kings 19 on Friday morning, April 7

Now there was a great chemical bombing,
and we are all very sure that God was not in it,

and there were tomahawk missiles
and the earth quaked,
and God was not in them,

and there was the posturing of nations,
and the violence of faith against faith
a fire that burns
like no other burning.

God is not in such a fire.

And there was a refugee child seeking shelter
who was nearly silent,
and there was a voice asking –

What are you doing here?

What, O God, are we doing here?

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A prayer from a hymn– forgive me, Katherine Hankey

God, I do not love to tell some stories –

Jesus calling some mama’s child – a dog,
dissing Martha’s hospitality,
applauding a dishonest steward,

and certainly I don’t love the story
of withering a fig tree
because it was figless
in a season
when there should be no figs.

I have waited with too many people
through figless days,

not to speak of lending them some oil
when their lights went out,
and sending them home to bury
mom and dad,

promising every single time
there will be for them an old, old story
of Jesus and his love.

(this is my favorite hymn)

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