The Holy Other


 

 
Annie Dillard, writer of Holy the Firm and other books of non-fiction and poetry, said in an interview with Philip Yancey:

I often think of God as a fireball – friendly – who rolls by. If you’re lucky you get a slight glimpse of him.

 
from Open Windows by Philip Yancey, 1985, p. 30
 
 


Let us pray

Lord God Almighty, may we revere and serve you, forsaking all other would-be gods.

Loving God, you hear our prayers: You live among us.

Holy Trinity, one God, you are so powerful that the highest heaven cannot contain you. Neither can our churches, our hearts or our world hold you fast. Nevertheless, hear our prayers and pleas this day, for your love is far greater than our needs.

Loving God, you hear our prayers: You live among us.

Holy Spirit, comfort the brokenhearted among us with your promise of redemption and resurrection, for we believe we shall live forever in the house of the Lord.

Loving God, you hear our prayers: You live among us.

Arm us with your might, Lord God, else we will be defeated by evil. May your truth, peace, faith and holy Word guard us, inspire us and embolden us to be your people.

Loving God, you hear our prayers: You live among us.

Lord Jesus Christ, help us take no offense from your difficult teachings. You are the Holy One of God, and the Heavenly Father bids us come to you in faith.

Loving God, you hear our prayers: You live among us.

Lord God Almighty, this world delights in producing weapons of war. Forgive us our fear of one another, teach us to trust your Son, and bring peace to the hearts of all people.

Loving God, you hear our prayers: You live among us.

Among us are many counting on your goodness and mercy for hope and healing. Hear us as we name them _____.

Loving God, you hear our prayers: You live among us.

The love of God has won.
The new life has begun.
Amen.

 
~ written by Paul Sauer, and posted on re:worship
 

A holy kingdom


 
[from the Prayer Stations handout]

 

LET’S PRAY: THY KINGDOM COME

From Ascension Thursday to Pentecost (13 to 23 May 2021) Christians all over the world are once again invited to join the annual global prayer movement called Thy Kingdom Come.

During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come, the hope is that all who take part will:

  • deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ
  • pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
  • pray for the Holy Spirit to empower Christians everywhere for witness, just as He did the early disciples at Pentecost

Prayer resources – catering for ages 5 to 105, suitable for churches, families and individuals – are available online.
 


A prayer

Jesus, we believe in your kingdom coming. Even amid pain and despair, we believe that with each brave prophet – with each unknown disciple who stretches her arm as a bridge between a broken world and a holy kingdom – you are laying another brick for the New Jerusalem.
Amen.

 
from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro, p. 274
 

Holy moment beneath the stars


(Illustration: Irene Bom)

 

Let me introduce you to a recent addition to my growing collection of prayer books: Every Moment Holy: Volume One by Douglas Kane McKelvey. It features over 100 liturgies for the ordinary events of daily life, including liturgies “For Home Repairs”, “For Missing Someone” and “For the Hurried Preparation of a Meal”. A second volume with liturgies for seasons of dying and grieving has also been published.

Here is an excerpt from Volume One, used with the publisher’s permission.
 


from  A Liturgy For Stargazing

[O Great Architect of These Intricate Heavens]

Tune our ears to hear the songs
of stars in their trillion-fold choruses,
bearing witness to your glory, your power.

Use these bright expressions of your extravagant
beauty to stroke our holy longings, whetting our
appetites afresh for all that is eternal and good.

You made this vastness, and by
your love you placed us in it,
fixed among the wonders.
So let us be stirred, O Lord, by night skies such as these,
lifting our thoughts to you, our Maker, and to the vast
and beautiful infinitude of your designs.

O Spirit of God, draw praise from us,
      here in this cathedral of creation,
      beneath this starry dome.
Awaken our adoration in this place
where we are so very small –
      and yet so greatly loved.

Amen.

 
written by Douglas Kane McKelvey
from Every Moment Holy: Volume One (Pocket Edition), p. 80, 82
Used with permission
 


 
More
Interview with Douglas Kane McKelvey on The Habit Podcast
Every Moment Holy liturgies for download and liturgy videos
 

Lively concern


 

A blessing

Bless, O God, all who dedicate their powers today
      to the making of peace in the world;
bless all who give their training and experience
      to feed and clothe and house the destitute;
bless all who lend their energies and skills
      to teach impoverished people to till, water and harvest their land.
And give us all a lively concern for the underprivileged,
      and show us practical ways for helping.
For Christ’s sake.
Amen.

~ written by Rita Snowden, posted on re:worship
 

Thank you. For life


 

In the silence
I receive once more
this gift of my life
from you.
     Hold me in your stillness,
     simplify me,
     and take possession of me,
     my God.

 
by Angela Ashwin,
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #613
 


 
From the blog
First love
Who do you work for?
Theme: Spurred on by prayer  [prayer sheet]
 

Tree of life


 
 

Recently I’ve been experimenting with frottage, often using the bark of a tree as my substratum, and posting results to my instagram account (@irene.bom).

Here I’ve used the technique to help illustrate Proverbs 15:4a (NLT): “Gentle words are a tree of life”.

My main inspiration for featuring this particular verse was a blog post entitled, “100 Healing Words for Every Harmful Syllable” by Scotty Smith.
 


Words of assurance

(inspired by Revelation 21:1-6)

Behold:
there is a new heaven,
    a new earth
        and a new city,
where the river of life flows,
where the tree of life bears fruit in every season.

This heaven,
    this city,
        this river,
            this tree
are a vision of your life
    reborn, restored, and renewed.
Thanks be to God!

 
source: re-worship.blogspot.com
 


Tip: Word study on “Tree of life”

Check out the bibleproject.org video on Tree of life. Also check out their many other materials to enrich your study of the Bible.
 

Newness of life


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

A prayer

Risen Christ, bring newness of life
into our stale routines,
into our wearied spirits,
into our tarnished relationships.

 
from Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold Patterns for Each Day
by Ray Simpson, p. 29
 


A blessing

The God of life go with us,
the Risen Christ beside us,
the vibrant Spirit within us.
Amen!

 
from Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold Patterns for Each Day
by Ray Simpson, p. 30
 

In the school of prayer with Michael Mayne


 

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! And that makes all the difference.

 
To quote Michael Mayne from Alleluia is our Song: Reflections on Eastertide, “Our struggles haven’t ended, nor has the world changed, because it is Easter Day. And yet because of Easter, everything has changed, all is different, because we have met Jesus and he has said ‘Peace be with you!'” (p. 13)
 
I first discovered Michael Mayne through his book, Learning to Dance. As with so many of his books, it is peppered with quotes from books that shaped him. This Sunrise of Wonder, written as a series of letters to his grandchildren, is no different.

 

Here are some extracts from This Sunrise of Wonder, from a chapter on prayer entitled “Prayer as giving attention to God”.

For the most part I let Michael Mayne speak in his own voice, with references to a mystic or two, for good measure. Check out the quotes in context to learn more about his influences.

 


I

“My value lies in the fact that I am my unique self, that no-one else who has ever lived, or who ever will, can be in exactly my relationship with God, or reflect his love back to him in exactly the same way. … ultimately that’s what life is about: it’s about learning to stand in your own space and discerning in its unfathomable depths a power greater than yourself who invites your attention; and not simply your attention but your love. And it is that kind of giving attention that we call prayer.” (p. 279)

II

“There is in each of us a Self that lies deeper than our conscious ego, that still point of your being where you are most truly you, so that the journey of prayer is largely a journey inwards. Not that prayer is self-analysis. Quite the reverse: it is a way of becoming detached, or escaping at least momentarily from the constant clamour of self. It is the way we begin to shift the centre of living from self-consciousness to self-surrender. … Prayer is about learning how to become still, open and receptive to the now, the present moment in which alone God is to be found.” (p. 280)

III

“St John of the Cross, a sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, said that the heart of prayer is giving ‘loving attention to God’; and certainly the starting point of prayer is to realize that it is not about words (or not much of the time); it’s about listening. It is about becoming still, remaining still, waiting, not being afraid of silence. … Birds, painting, music, books, people: we have to learn to go at their pace and tune to their wavelength. What we receive is related to what we give. Giving attention to God is no different, though much harder. For we are so used to doing that learning to be is like learning a foreign language. And we mustn’t expect to feel much. Feelings are not what count. What counts is simply being there.” (p. 282)

IV

“Jean-Pierre de Caussade was an obscure eighteenth-century French priest who wrote anonymously a book called Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, and the heart of it lies in the phrase by which it is best known: ‘the sacrament of the present moment’. He begins with the New Testament assertion that God’s nature is unchangeable love, that he loves us at every moment of our lives and ‘can no more stop loving us than the sun can stop radiating heat.’ It follows, he says, that if God’s loves come to us at every single moment then he is with us in the moment that is now. If we don’t find God in the actual world around us, and in ourselves at this moment, then we can’t expect to find him in our so-called ‘spiritual’ times of prayer. Therefore it is to this moment, and to this moment alone in all its singular nowness, that we should give our attention, so ‘that every moment of our lives’ becomes ‘a sort of communion with the divine love’.” (p. 286-7)

V

“I have never seen this day, all it contains, before and I shall never see it again, nor will I ever again be exactly the self I am now. It is quite literally the only way we can know God, in the here and now and by living this moment fully. It is also, of course, the only hope we have of ever changing how we are, with the possibility of redeeming the past or affecting the future. ‘This is the day that the Lord has made,’ says the Psalmist, ‘let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ … If I am even to begin to live like this (and the kind of prayer I have spoken of is the most effective way of learning it), then two things are necessary. First, that I really do come to know at gut level that I do walk through the world as one who is loved, whatever may be happening to me, and that every moment, even the worst, can be used by God. And, secondly, that I learn to give attention to each moment as it comes – this person to be seen (repeat, seen), that tricky letter to be written, this humdrum task to be done … and that is difficult, and most of the time we forget. But that, and that alone, is how we are called to be. Not that we are called to do, but how we are called to be. Attention givers. For that, when you think about it, is not a bad definition of love.” (p. 288-9)
 

Some practical advice

“You can’t sit still if you are uncomfortable. … Only when the body is at ease is the mind at ease. … How you breathe is also important. Stillness is achieved by the stilling of our agitated restless minds and bodies. Most of us breathe much too shallowly most of the time, engaging only the upper part of the lungs. So it’s good to begin by very gently giving attention to our breathing for a few moments, until we are breathing in and out in a smooth unbroken rhythm and our body is calm and centred.” (p. 283-4)

“Because our mind is so full of thoughts and sensations the quiet repetition of a word or familiar phrase is one of the simplest and most effective ways of practicing the presence of God. Words like ‘Abba’, the word Jesus used to address the Father, or the words, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’, or the Psalmist’s ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. There is the Jesus Prayer which has been said for centuries and is one of the greatest treasures of the Orthodox Church, the words, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’. … It is repeated, quietly and slowly, over and over again as a way of bringing us to be in God’s presence with no other thought than the wonder of God being who he is and us being who we are. … To say such words, repeatedly, means that they gradually become part of you and may then well up from within you quite outside your formal times of prayer. … But perhaps best of all is to take the Lord’s Prayer. It does not really matter if occasionally you get no further than the opening two words, provided your understanding of the words ‘Our’ and “Father’ is a fraction deeper as a result.” (p. 285)
 

quotes from This Sunrise of Wonder by Michael Mayne, 2008 edition
 


 
From the blog
Sister moon
Ding! Dong! Curiosity
In the school of prayer with Ignatius of Loyola
 

Man of Sorrows


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Prayer of intercession

Jesus, Saviour,
Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,
we come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
wounded for our transgressions,
bruised for our iniquities,
we come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
we come as a church broken by factions,
weak in our mission,
wavering in our faith.
We come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
we come as people of the world,
torn by war,
ruined by greed,
spoilt by selfishness.
We come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
we come as members of a family,
insensitive to each other,
blind to tears and deaf to cries.
We come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
we come with the sick at heart,
we come with the ill in mind,
we come with the diseased in body.
We come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

 
from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p.64-5
 


 
From the blog

‘He suffered’ Series – posted during Holy Week 2018
scheming | criticism | collusion | anguish | treachery | abandonment
 

Light in the gloom


 

A prayer

Jesus, you are the light of the world,
a light that no darkness can quench.

Upon your church
wrestling with the darkness of evil,
battling against doubt,
let your light shine.

Upon the world governments
facing gloom and despair,
battling against disaster,
let your light shine.

Upon those that live in the shadows,
caught up in sorrow and strife,
struggling against oblivion,
let your light shine.

 
from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p.65
 


 
Prayer poem for Palm Sunday, Year B : Cornerstone
 
This prayer poem is inspired by Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, in particular verse 22: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone …