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Today’s StillSpeaking Devotional, written by Elissa Johnk, quotes this scripture:

“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. […] To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people . . . .” – I Corinthians 9:19-23

So, she wrote this with me in mind (and people like me, all around the world).  I read it, then prayed the prayer, then went into the kitchen where Steve is washing dishes, and read parts of it to Steve.  And I prayed the prayer again, right in front of him. Those of you who know Steve know he hates organized religion and preachiness. I read and prayed anyway, because I want him to know I’ll try to love him better and occasionally take a pass on loving strangers.

arguing-coupleI’ve wondered for a long time how I can be so pleasant to friends and even strangers, and even do lots of stuff for them, but I won’t remember to do that for Steve. I’m not a tent-maker and don’t even want to be (heck, I’m a seminary drop out).  Yet, I believe it IS my Christian duty to show love to all people. It seems to me that if I wear a cross, I need to be a good representative of Jesus.

But here’s the thing. I need to remember to be good to Steve or else HE gets a bad representation of Jesus. Do you think Jesus went home to Mary and wouldn’t help mend the broken things that a carpenter could do?  (Mind you, one Gospel has him calling his mother “Woman” at the wedding feast of Cana, and being pretty nasty to her when she asks him to do something about the lack o’wine.) I hope he could curtail his expectations of his mother and treat her with love and respect.

LoveWordCloudDid Jesus have siblings? Popular opinion states that he did. I hope Mary & Joseph taught him respect for all family members. I spent years trying to show my parents just how wonderful I was. Much of this was at the expense of my poor sister and younger brothers. I try now to treat them well, even when they royally annoy me (as they so often do and I so often annoy them!). (I can’t explain why James, his brother, is such an authoritarian. He was raised by the same people as Jesus.)

Was Jesus married? Do I even need to care? If so, I hope his wife embraced his mission and travelled with him. I hope he treated her like a queen. I hope, in his perfect-Jesusness, his son-of-Godness, that he treated his wife and children well.

So here’s my prayer, and if you are like I am, and continue to strive to embody love, compassion, kindness; I invite you to pray with me.

God of Graciousness,

You make the goodness in the world. You still speak and since the beginning, your words are you. Your word is light, shutting out darkness. You are not evil. You are not the god who plays chess with the incarnate evil and sends bad things to happen to good people. You are goodness. You are kindness. You are love. You are amazing!

Lord of Light and Love,

I pray that today you will replace all selfishness with love. Help me to take enough time to replenish my resources, so that I remember to think before I speak or act. Write the words love and loving-kindness on the inside of my eyelids. Grant me patience. Grant me grace. Grant me compassion. Take me back to where I was in the honeymoon of my love for Steve. Give me new eyes to see all the good he does. Remind me that I don’t need to cure every ill of the world. Remind me to cure the ills at home.

And I bring to you those with ills of mind and body. I bring those who aren’t handling life as well as they should and those who don’t have the resources to manage things well. I bring those who cannot bring themselves as well as those who don’t realize that they can bring themselves to you. I pray for a better and just economy. I pray for wisdom for the world’s leaders. I pray that your kingdom come on earth and turn upside down the belief that all resources are finite and insufficient.

Generous Giver,

Thank you for sunlight and lamps that bring the full spectrum of light indoors. Thank you for a husband who washes dishes and cleans the patio after the winter. Thank you for the promise of spring in the bulbs that stick their heads out. Thank you for colors, especially the green of growth. Thank you for my life.  I love you so much.

I pray claiming the promise of Jesus. That if we ask in his name, our joy will be made full.

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Love always,

Melissa

© Melissa Pazen, 2015
LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!

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Again, a Stillspeaking Devotional touches me.  Mary Luti writes of 

in si·tu
ˌin ˈsīto͞o,ˈsē-/
adverb & adjective
  1. in its original place.
    “mosaics and frescoes have been left in situ”
  2. in position.
    “her guests were all in situ”

When I had breast cancer, in 2007, the tumor was “in situ”.  This means it hadn’t moved beyond the milk duct where it originally formed.  I give glory to God for having found it when it was SO small (6 mm – about 3/16 inch, photo is actual size).

6 mm - actual size

 

On Wednesday, I will have a repeat mammogram on the same (left) breast because it appears I have another calcification, often the precursor of cancer.  I know I’m not in control of these things, and I try not to worry.  

I keep giving this over to God and LET-NOT-YOUR-HEART-BE-TROUBLED-smtrusting.  Five minutes later, I’m giving it over again.  Sometimes I wish my humanity weren’t so human.  I know I’m not meant to be perfect, yet I long for serenity.  I long to be comforted and held secure in Jesus’ arms. I long to be able to rise above this.  As long as I keep my mind occupied with something else, something positive, I am safe.  My idle mind goes back to this over and over.  I guess the idle mind IS the devil’s playground.  I don’t believe in a personified devil, but I know there are forces of evil at work in the universe.  These are mine (and yours?) every time I slip from God’s embrace.  Will you pray with me, please?

 

Amazing Architect,

You created the universe and somehow you chose to create a wretch like me.  I praise you for finding me, for letting my blind eyes see you and the beauty of all your works.  I praise that you are creating still.  That you speak to us, not only from a document that is almost 2000 years old, but in the words of friends and your whispering voice.  I “hear” you in my quiet mind, with words you would have me think.  I worship you for this, the ability to turn my heart and my mind to the good, INSTEAD of dwelling on the bad… on my fears.  You are more than I could ever imagine; more powerful, more loving.  You are amazing!

Lord who Longs to make my joy full,

Joy-FullI pray you will be with me today.  I pray you will keep your loving arms around me and let me languish on your lap. I pray that in my time at church and my time with Kate & Will & Steve, you will keep my heart and mind on YOU. I pray you will banish my fears. I pray you will hold me close and remind me to lean on your perfect strength. I pray you will remind me that if you are for me, nothing greater can be against me. I pray that you will let nothing separate me from your love, even sickness – if it shall be so, even death whenever it comes (may it be years away!)

I pray for others who suffer with fear and illness: Craig, Thea, and many too numerous to mention – yet you know their names and my intent. I pray for all the littluns who arrived earlier than their parents planned: Emilie, Hayden & Ethan, Nick & Alex and many too numerous to mention. I pray for my congregation as we seek your will in becoming “Open and Affirming” of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders — and of all those for whom we see the differences and forget the similarities.

I pray that you will remind us we are your precious children, that each of us have a life that matters dearly to you.

Magnificent Maker,

You are the source of everything I sense – see, hear, smell, taste and feel.  You have given it all to me and my brothers & sisters in this world — and every human is my brother or my sister! I am filled with gratitude and I thank you.  And, Lord, thank you.  And by the way, Lord, thank you. May I ever be in awe of what you have done for me, and continue to do, and will do forever.

And I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2015

Live Inspired: pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Have you read the stillspeaking devotional for today? If not, click here. It’s a God-moment, when we turn everything upside down; just like Jesus told us to do.

“Blessed are those who appreciate it when they get head lice, for theirs is the kingdom of good parenting and good relationships.”

~ the gospel according to Melissa (the heretic)

(clearly NEVER to be included in the formal church tradition)

 

I’ve had head lice. Kate was then Katie. She was in first grade and had longer hair and brought them home. Louse - adult male that lives on h;umansChris never got them. Katie and I shampooed with a nasty potion every three days and tried to comb out the nits. We washed combs, brushes and anything that touched hair. Mostly we wanted to stop itching!

But God! God helps us to reframe our thoughts about these little parasites, even while we strive to eliminate them.  Lice show us that love and affection have taken place and love is always a good thing.  Will you pray with me, please?

Lord of Lice and Love,

You created everything, even lice. Each has a purpose and a place in your world. Monkeys eat lice. I guess it’s part of their balancing of their diets.  

You are bigger than just the creator of humans, monkeys and headlice. You called the universe into being. You were there before it existed. You will be here long after all of us have turned to dust. You are amazing!

Light of Love,

I humbly approach you this morning. I bring all of my brokenness and I pray for healing. I pray for forgiveness, for me and all who have wronged me OR YOU. Part of getting over things for me is to understand. Yet even when I can’t understand, help me to forgive. Help me to allow people to be less than perfect. Help me to enjoy the journey with them, help me to ask your forgiveness for my sin and to forgive those who have wronged me, deliberately or inadvertently. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus is said to have taught disciples to pray:
Abba, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation. (Luke 11:2-4)
 Jesus turns the world upside down
Tall order! And I pray you will help me to forgive those who I feel should be indebted to me in any way; for those who have trespassed or sinned against me.  I find my judgment runs rampant like: 

“Losing” (Tenth Avenue North)

I can’t believe what she said
I can’t believe what he did
Oh, don’t they know it’s wrong, yeah?
Don’t they know it’s wrong, yeah?
Maybe there’s something I missed
But how could they treat me like this?
It’s wearing out my heart
The way they disregard
This is love, this is hate…
We all have a choice to make
Oh, Father won’t You forgive them?
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
Well it’s only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that’s mine
Seventy times seven times
‘Cause Lord it doesn’t feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it’s not that much
When I think of what You’ve done.
This is love, this is hate…
We’ve got a choice to make
Oh, Father won’t You forgive them?
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
Oh, no!
Why do we think that hate’s gonna change their heart?
We’re up in arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
But pride won’t let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not
Freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
Of mercy and Your grace, Father, send Your angels down
Oh, Father won’t you forgive them?
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
Yeah, I feel like I’ve been losing
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
I feel like I’ve been losin’
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’

Lord, I pray for your grace. Heal me from sin, especially the sin of judgment when I’m hurt. Marianne Williamson wrote:

At a certain point, we forgive because we decide to forgive. Healing occurs in the present, not the past. We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.

Lord, help me to love.  And Lord, help me to love. And Lord, when I forget, help me to love.

Generous Giver,

You’ve given me all that I have, especially the ability to forgive.  I am truly grateful.  Thank you for full spectrum lights to use even in the darkest winter.  Thank you for green tea.  Thank you for technology and the ability to write my prayer to you and the memory to remember to pray. Thank you for my life. Thank you for the lives of those around me, and the lessons I learn from my community. Lord, I love you so much!

Jesus taught me that when I ask in his name, I shall receive, that my joy be made full.  I pray for that joy and your peace as I pray

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2015

Live Inspired: pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  

~ Phil. 4:8

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????My blood type is B positive.  I used to say this is why I’m such an optimist.  These days, however, I can be cranky for what seems like weeks on end.  That’s not fair to others and it’s not fair to me and it’s really not fair to God.

I noticed last night that I’m irritated about this extreme cold that keeps me indoors with my car garaged.  There have been warnings on the radio to avoid going out at almost any cost.  My office is closed and I know that’s good because my car would likely give trouble trying to start after sitting in the wind-blown parking lot.  But I’m tired of the things that normally occupy me.  Mind you, I could make a lengthy list of things that could occupy my time well.  And so, I must.  But first, I need to talk with God.

Will you pray with me, please?

Everpresent Energy,

I’m getting bored in the house. You have made a universe that allows for beauty in every hour, and I am on the verge of sin as I refuse to enjoy it. As I meditate on the possibilities for this day of potential solitude, I know that you would want me to focus on doing good. You are perfect, you are wisdom, and just the fact that you ARE makes you worthy of my praise and adoration.  You are more than I could ever conceive.  You are amazing!

Loving Lord,

I pray that you’ll help me to adjust my attitude. Help me to fix my thoughts on purely pleasing you. Lighten my mood and remind me of my purpose, to help others. There is much I could do and now I shall make a list of a few of those things so that I can sense achievement when all items are checked complete.  And if I need to make a second list, inspire it.

Bee PositiveAs I share my home with Steve and the dogs, let me keep my mind focused as you would have me do. Strengthen our relationship and bless it. Let us find happiness in one another – not annoyance or blaming our discomforts on the other. Be with me always; put your hand on my mouth, if necessary to stop me from speaking meanness.  Let your blessed fingers unfurrow my brow and make my face a light of your love.

I bring to you also, those who are forced to be outside in such dangerous conditions. Show them ways to get warm and safe. Ensure that all have good nutrition and hydration to stay healthy.

I think of those who struggle with illness and injury. Lord, I pray you will be present in healing each of them, and when healing is not possible I pray you will keep them from suffering.

Generous Grandother,

Be PositiveYou have given us so much. Let me remember to be grateful for the light and warming energy of the sun. Let me thank you for water and coffee.  Let me revel in the fact that you have granted those in my circumstances more than enough to survive, you have granted me all I need to thrive and Lord, I pray I can thank you by using all these gifts as your faithful steward.  I am grateful.  Lord, I love you so much.

And I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2014

Live Inspired: pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”

John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

~ John 3: 26 -30

This morning, Mary Luti knocked it out of the park with her Stillspeaking Devotional about John the Baptist.  I had been sitting at my desk getting weepy because people don’t realize I’m sensitive and hurt easily.  And whenever this happens, I try to remember again — it’s not about me.  

A while back, Colleen Gabel led a retreat for women of the Congregational Church of  Batavia called “Cracked Pots to Holy Vessels” (or something like that…  I know cracked pots WAS involved, because the pun was totally intended!)  Will you pray with me, please?

cracked pot

Parent and Potter,

You are the architect of the universe and the builder and the materials and the laborer.  You created the heavens and the earth and I suspect there was little ‘hard work’ done to create it — I think you can’t help but create.  I think your creative energy is love.  I know you are amazing!

Gracious God,

Help me to remember that my every move should be to increase you.  Grant me the humility I lack.  Keep me on my knees worshipping you, not mistakenly thinking it’s about me.  Make me a vessel, filled with you to overflowing.  Empty my mind of me by filling it with you.  Make me a blessing for others, Lord — nothing more.

vessel for God

Constant Creator,

You have given me this mind, these fingers, these thoughts.  Without you, I am nothing — I would not be. Thank you for my life. Lord, I love you so much.  I am grateful.

And I dare to pray claiming Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired: pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
…A time to kill, and a time to heal

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

AP_FALL_BACK_TIMERecently, I’ve watched a lot of people deal with loved ones end of life (or the over it).  Today in the US, it’s “Return to God’s Time” as daylight savings time ended at 2 a.m.   (I wasn’t up to count THAT down.)  My garden is brown or frozen because it’s -3ªc or 20ªf outside!  All the lovely blooms are gone and the annuals are too, except for tarragon & rosemary that I haven’t harvested yet.

This all reminds me of the seasonality of all living things.  Rod McKuen called it ‘Seasons in the Son’.  Leslie Bricusse talked about the morning, noon and evening of one’s life in Fill the World with Love in the musical “Good-bye, Mr. Chips”.  I simply wax nostalgic.

I remember my women’s theology group (Monday Night Bible Study or MonNtBS as I irreverently named my e-Mail group), working through the book of Job.  I went into it thinking “God and the Devil playing a game with a man’s life… RIGHT!”  But here’s the thing, I came out of it with a six word answer to many of our theological musings.  “I am God and you’re not.”  

Will you pray with me please?

Everlasting Energy,

You named yourself to our ancestors, “I am”. I can only agree, “Yes, God, YOU ARE.”  Job asked why he was smited and covered with sores. You asked if he was present when you called the world into being and hung the sun and moon.  Of course, Job wasn’t.  But “YOU WERE/ARE/WILL BE”.  Merely the fact of your infinite nature brings me figuratively to my knees while my literal fingers are on this keyboard.  I adore you, God.  You are AMAZING!

Lover of Light,

Perhaps you inspired daylight savings time.  (Wait, did I SAY that?  Of course, YOU DID!).

Responsive Ruler,

Jesus told the disciples that we should ask in his name, that our joy be made full.  I rarely ask for miracles, though.  When my 92 year-old mother-in-law went to the hospital, I thought, “This could be the end.  She’s lived a long time.” Then when she was moved to a rehabilitation center, I thought “Ah, an easier transition to this continuum of care facility.  She’ll move on to the other assisted living centers.”  Now she is home.  I praise you!  Only you could make this happen!

Annamae with Savannah

Responder to our Requests,

YOU ARE.  You answer the desires of our hearts that we dare not articulate — sometimes.  Then there is Mary’s 95 year-old mother, who cannot live unassisted anymore and has been moved to her son’s house, after hospitalization, then skilled nursing care, then home.  She can’t make it without someone strong to lift her. I suspect she’ll either die eventually in another skilled care facility or have hospice care at her son’s house.  So what of her? What should I ask of you?

Mary is sad and harried.  The weight of this is heavy on her shoulders.  God, will you inspire her with your peace?  I pray of thee, surround Mary and her family with your love and a bit of joy through this dark time of the soul.  Remind them, especially my good, good friend that the clouds will lift as they have this bright morning.  That while we go through autumn and winter, that your energy and spirit are always willing to support us, to let us lean on you.

Is this what it will take to get Mary back to church, God?  She has suffered with the guilt of a divorce, but you always forgive the penitent. I know  you still yearn for her; crave her attention.  You want her to worship YOU, not a religious rule that blocks her ability to seek you.  Put it on her heart at just the right time, to go to Mass or a Worship Service.  In your time, may this be done — not mine.  Remind her that communion in any form or any sense is bringing her soul to yours.  Let her commune with you and with other seekers of your kingdom.

baby-girl-handprint-footprint-vector-817335

Or perhaps, you will use her daughter’s new baby.  Remind Mary that the love is in that new life, too; that her relationship with her own granddaughter and daughter is equally important as her relationship with her mother.  Remind Mary to spend less time on worry and more time on “OPTIMISM” and peace and rest and self-care.  If she runs out of energy to replenish her own body, remind her that she must rebuild herself before she can build or rebuild others, I pray of thee, God.

Yet not my will, but yours, God.  Not in my time, but yours. Not to my glory, but to you be the glory,

Generous Giver,

Thank you for the mouse and the red underscores that help me to correct my mistakes.  Thank you for the ability to confess and apologize when I sin.  Thank you for Samantha Madhosingh’s month of gratitude.  Thank you for Jean Stone who taught me about gratitude even during those dark nights of the soul.  Thank you for the internet.  Thank you for daylong retreats and Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel and Rev. Merlyn Lawrence and for all the Sisters, Saints & Sinners who went with me.  Thank you for living my life with me and letting me live it for you.  Let me live to bring your kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven.  Let me live according to your will and to love, and to love and to love.

I dare to pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired: pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

The prayer at the end of this devotional,  published today, reminds me of Stephen Ministry and my training for it.  The body of the devotional is exactly the kind of story that led me to a talk I gave a year ago in San Diego.

child-abuse-620x349

I doubt the Stephen Ministers are often privileged to have someone share such serious parental abuse, yet I pray that as each care giver stands in the mud with her/his care receivers (official or unofficial), we can lean on God’s strength to avoid slipping with them into the ‘slough of despair’.

Will you pray with me please?

Unimaginable One,

You call us out of the darkness.  You created the light and you invite us to come live in the light of your kingdom.  We are honored, humbled, privileged.  You are amazing!

Lord of Love,

I pray for all who suffer the abuse of power by another human.  I pray especially for the vulnerable who should be cherished and protected but who are harmed by those who they were told to trust.  I pray for those who are told they must be wrong or that they are liars when they tell another adult of the abuse.  Be the comfort.  Be the healing energy.  Enfold them in your loving embrace and let them again feel safe.  You are the love through all the world and beyond.  Only you can help them by empowering them and others to do well.

Child_abuse

I pray for those too weak or naïve to protect the vulnerable.  Lord, please open their eyes and let them lean on your strength.  Let them use your strength to create a safe place for the victims.  Let them help to keep the victims out of harm’s way.

child_sexual_abuse

Lord, I bring to you also the abusers.  They have been weak to these sins; they have not overcome the temptations.  Bring them, too, into the light, Lord.  Show them the path on which to put their feet.  Make their journey aim for your kingdom and straighten the path for them as they begin to walk with you.  Send your saints to them, to walk beside them and encourage them and love them.

Gracious Giver,

You are the source of the technology to deliver the devotionals.  You put the thought into Donna Schaper’s mind to write the words we read.  You inspire me with forgiveness for perpetrators of hate, compassion for those to weak to stop what they know is wrong, and love for those who suffer from violations.

All that we have, all that we cherish, all that we enjoy comes from you.  I am grateful.  Lord, I love you so much!

Jesus told us to ask in his name, that our joy be made full.

I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Not to us, but to God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

The 5/22 Stillspeaking Daily Devotional from the UCC was written by Rev./Prof. Mary Luti.  As I finished reading it, I was in tears.  It took me 18 minutes to stop while praying the following.  If you haven’t read it, click the link above.  It’s among the most beautiful!

God of Wind and Quietude,

I don’t understand how you can be both, but I trust you are.

Moore, Oklahoma Tornado on Ground

God of Chaos and Order,

I can’t fathom where I would begin in a catastrophe like Oklahoma’s, but I trust you do.

God of Creation and Destruction,

I can’t imagine the purpose of this horrific situation, but I know you’re there, and I trust that my task is to begin anew and every moment I need it, to rest in your arms – crying, planning, lauding, thanking.

God of Faith, Hope and Love,

I remember the words of the TV ad from the 1960’s, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

moore-ok-tornado-prayer-2

Ever-present Energy,

I bring this mess in Moore, Oklahoma to you and I place it at your feet. I don’t have the power alone to resolve it. Indeed Lord, no human nor group of humans have the power alone.  I praise you, Lord, because you do.

Remind me to pray without ceasing today.  Remind me to cling to you, for I will be better off with your loving arm around my shoulder than anywhere without you.  Remind me to hope today, because up until now, bad has always gotten better when I prayed and planned and practiced patience, then put my shoulder to the load as I put on the yoke with you.  Remind me today to love, for there’s really no other reason for me to be here.

Generous Grace,

It may not feel like much sometimes, but as long as we still are living, we have an incredible gift from you.  I’m grateful.  The house may be gone, but if someone survived and someone else can hold that person, cling to that person, take and offer support, each has an incredible gift from you.  If clean water, a change of underwear, a cell phone, a nourishing meal is brought in by “the helpers” (as Fred Rogers’ mother would say), all will be well again eventually.

moore-ok-tornado-work

That was a POWERFUL wind.  And no, I don’t think you were angry at ANYONE nor sent tornadoes to punish ANYONE.  I think bad things happen and it’s up to you and me to pull up our bootstraps or our ‘big-girl panties” and get to work to bring your kingdom, to end evil, to create a world filled with love that can overcome anything, even death.  So, God of all Good Things, thank you.  Thank you for my life.  Thank you for a few extra dollars to send to the non-profits that will help.  Thank you for FEMA, even though I can’t fix it all by itself.  Thank you for the calm, beyond the  storm.  Lord, I just love you so much!

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the Glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Go-deep-go-strong-abatley-1

© Alison Batley (photo copyright)

Today my congregation hosts a prayer vigil.  We’re in a transition phase, since our pastor of 22 years retired.  The United Church of Christ (UCC) recommends taking time to adjust to leaving the old and envisioning the next pastoral period.  With a lot of help from the internet (amazing what one can find with Google!), I developed a guide for our prayer vigil today.   Among the resources:  

Prayer Vigil Guide for Visioning with the most lovely graphic (above)

Those who wanted a resource for their 30 minutes of solitude in our sanctuary (or elsewhere) have been given the following.  I pray it helps us to think about where God wants to lead us.

Throughout our four-week all church study, we used this little graphical guy doing various things.  I was fortunate to find him praying; it appears he’s likely copyrighted by Leo Blanchette.

orange guy - prayer

I’m posting the resource here, because some may find it helpful in considering their personal or congregational journey ahead.

To God be the glory!

Transitional Ministry Visioning Prayer Vigil

Enter into prayer:  praising God for the many wonderful ways our congregation embodies God’s love.   Praise God if you have grown closer to Christ at our church. Praise God!

Scripture:  

We continually remember before our God your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

~ I Thessalonians 1:3

Focus:  on whom God is for you, the purpose God has given you and the purpose for our congregation.

Scripture:  

“But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by God in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…”            ~ Matthew 16:15 – 19

Meditate:  on the times and ways in your life when God has guided you and the times God has led our church.

Scripture: 

But when the Spirit of truth comes, the Spirit will guide you into all truth.

~ John 16:13

Access the Holy of Holies in ways that work for you:  Listen to music, read, draw, do handiwork or your craft.  Enter into God’s Sacred Space.

Scripture:  

… beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.            ~ Phillipians 4:8

Ask:  for spiritual vision for our congregation and spend time listening to God.

Scripture: 

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

~ Proverbs 29:18

Pray:  that our church will be led by the Holy Spirit during the envisioning event and that each participant will come with a listening heart to be attentive to what others have  to say.  Pray that all will seek to align our personal desires with God’s vision, and work together to seek God’s direction.

Scripture:  

Call unto me, and I will answer, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.

~ Jeremiah 33:3

Ask:  God to guide the participants to discover key areas of ministry focus God would desire for us during the next five years.

Scripture: 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak.

~ Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 7

Scripture:   “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

~ Jeremiah 29:11-13

Pray:  for good participation from as many people as possible on March 10 in helping to envision our church’s future.

Scripture: From God the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

~ Ephesians 4:16a

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

I participate in a theology/bible study on Monday evenings.  This week, during our discussion on the series Living The Questions, we spoke of things that keep us from God and the theological solutions for each.  We spoke of them as blocks to our relationship with God.  

As has been the case quite a lot lately, a devotional arrived the next day that reminds me, invites me to meditate and helps me become nearer to God (I hope!). Donna Schaper wrote about “Laying on of Hands” – how the touch of laying on or even a massage can release blocked energy.

God-letter-building-blocks

I believe that there is a creative energy in the universe.  I believe love is this energy.  I call this energy God.  So the healing touch may indeed be releasing God’s loving energy.  Pretty cool, huh?

Incredible Imagineer,

You are all energy.  Your energy is the creative force of the universe.  Your energy is love.  You called the worlds into being and created people because  you want to be in relationship with us. We are your beloved creations. We are precious to you.  Amazing!

Lord of Liberation, Returning and Forgiveness,

I pray that you will inspire us to remove the blocks, whether bondage, exile, or sin.  Let us focus on restoring our relationship with you and valuing your people.  I pray you will remind us of the many ways we can overcome these blockages or obstacles.  Help us to remember  that the ‘what’ (being in relationship) is more important than the ‘how’ (choice of denomination or theological style).  With renewed fervor as we journey through Lent, let us end at the destination of your kingdom on earth.

antahkarana_lightning

Extravagant Energy,

Thank you for giving us  such abundant resources.  Food, thoughtfulness, air, light, wisdom – all things come from you.  We appreciate them, we see their value.  We love you so much!

Through Jesus, I pray,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

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