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.
 

The First and Last

 

I wrote this song in 1999, but it really came into its own last year, more than 20 years later – sung in church as an encouragement to my congregation during lockdown, and accompanied on the ukelele at the bedside of someone who was dying. Now it’s my privilege to share a recording of this song with you, with my friend, Margriet, singing harmony.

 

THESE ARE THE WORDS
by Irene Bom

These are the words of the First and Last
The one who came, who died, who rose again
These are the words and the words are true
These are the words of Jesus to you.

I know, I know what you’re going through
I know, I know ’cause I’ve been there too
And be sure my love will carry you
all the way, all the way through.

These are the words of the First and Last
The one who came, who died, who rose again
These are the words and the words are true
These are the words of Jesus to you.

Fear not, fear not, there’s no need to fear
Fear not, fear not because I am here
And be sure My love will keep you strong
every day, all the day long.

 

Vocals: Irene Bom and Margriet van Overbeeke

Inspiration

This song is inspired by Jesus’ words to the church in Smyrna, as recorded in Revelation 2:8-10.

These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know … Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. … Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

 

First love


‘You yourself know what you need’  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Jesus said:

“I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”

Revelation 2:3-4 (ESV)

 
Here is a prayer written by Scotty Smith that helps us prayerfully consider if and how Jesus’ words might apply to us.
 


A Prayer for Keeping Our First Love First

Dear Lord Jesus,

Even as we first needed grace to respond to your love (Eph. 2:8-10), so we need grace to stay alive to your love, and to grow even deeper in our affection for you. Your love for us is the one constant in our lives—for you love us with everlasting, unwavering, unabated affection. Everything else changes—everything else is subject to whim and fancy. But, unfortunately, our love for you does ebb and flow.

Jesus, give us fresh grace to love you with an undying love. May the cooling of our affections for you bother us more than the fragile economy, our broken relationships, political upheaval in the world, concerns about our health, getting older, or anything else. Jesus, don’t let us get used to status quo, middle-class, business-as-usual love for you.

If, by the Holy Spirit, we hear you saying to us this morning, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4), may we welcome it as a great gift, and respond with humility, gratitude and repentance.

For it means you are pursuing us, and that you delight in us; it means your banner over us is love and your jealousy is current. That you are jealous for our love, Lord Jesus, is the greatest compliment you could possibly pay us. So very Amen we pray, in your glorious and grace-full name.

 
~ written by Scotty Smith, posted on thegospelcoalition.org (excerpt)
 


 
From the blog
Seed
In the school of prayer with Ignatius of Loyola
Forget not
 

Parental love

“I cannot forget him out of my mind,” an Afghani student said in a BBC World Service news report recently. The mix-up of ‘get’ and ‘forget’ means now I can’t forget this young man out of my mind.

In Isaiah 49:15-16 God says to his people who feel forsaken, forgotten:

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Here is a video by the Bible Project on the character of God, focussing in particular on his COMPASSION. Parental love is a recurring image throughout the video.

 


Great Caregiver Prayer

When we entered this world as tiny babies,
you gave us caregivers,
who watched and waited on us,
who fed and clothed us,
who taught us how to live.
We pause in this moment of silence to give our own thanks
for one special person who has changed our life:
For their work, and their love which has shaped us,
we give you thanks!

We pray today for caregivers;
mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers,
aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters and cousins,
neighbours and family friends,
all who care for children.
Give us the wisdom we need to do this work!
Open our ears and eyes to the real needs of those in our charge;
open our hearts and hands to meet these needs.
Give us endurance, and patience and hope,
and above all compassion,
treating each child as we would want to be treated.

You know us, God;
you know that there are places where we have failed as caregivers;
we also need your help to mend broken or strained relationships,
we need forgiveness, we need closure.
Grant us peace in our relationships.

Our prayers are also directed today for caregivers
around the world who face special challenges;
for those many caregivers
who are caring for orphans from the tragedy of AIDS;
for caregivers who are without food,
walking long distances with children in their arms;
for caregivers in war-torn countries who are trying desperately
to protect their children from bombs and guns.
So many dangers in this world, Lord,
and you know them all.
Bring peace to our troubled times,
justice for those who are oppressed,
hope to those who are hopeless.

God, you love us with a father’s love,
you care for us more tenderly than any mother,
you are the Great Caregiver.
Help us this week to be aware of your love,
your gaze upon us,
encouraging us, sustaining us,
directing us.
Amen.

~ written by Carol Penner, and posted on Leading in Worship.
 

First steps


Poster for a Corona-proof cultural route through the heart of Rotterdam
 

“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.” (Exodus 15:20)

britannica.com describes dance as

the movement of the body in a rhythmic way, usually to music and within a given space, for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy, or simply taking delight in the movement itself.

There is some overlap between dance and prayer, as our bodies help us express our love for God, our delight in knowing Him and our emotional and bodily needs.

Exodus 15 records the use of dance as a community response to God’s saving acts on Israel’s behalf. But there’s no reason why we can’t use “dance” in our personal prayer time too, to enrich it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Adopt the embodied version of St Patrick’s breastplate. A friend of mine was keen to learn it – not just for the spiritual benefits, but also to exercise her weakened left arm. And when I visit her now, we make a point to pray this prayer together before I leave.
  • Dance prayerfully to a favourite hymn or spiritual song.
  • Interpret a passage of Scripture as a series of steps and gestures, to make the words come alive in a fresh way for you.

 
RECOMMENDED
Dance Is Like Thought: Helen Keller Visits Martha Graham’s Studio (including a video)
 

The fruit of lips


A GDR family savours a banana  (Artwork ** by Irene Bom)

 

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

 


A prayer

Blessing and honour, thanksgiving and praise
more than we can utter,
more than we can conceive,
be unto Thee, O holy and glorious Trinity,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
by all angels, all men, all creatures,
for ever and ever.

 
by Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)
from The Open Gate by David Adam, p.48
 

A more contemporary/inclusive version of this prayer:

Blessing and honour and thanksgiving and praise
more than we can utter, more than we can conceive,
be to you, most holy and glorious Trinity,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
from all angels, and all people, all creatures
for ever and ever.

from churchofengland.org
 


 
** The photographs used for this collage come from a National Geographic article on the fall of the Berlin Wall. The collage (together with the quote that inspired it) is from a 100-day project on Instagram channel irene.bom, beginning in April 2020.
 

Open the door, open the window

 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

 
~ Jesus,  from Revelation 3:20
 


A prayer

O God, You who are always doing a new thing, we confess that we sometimes close windows against the fresh air of new ideas, against the noise of other people’s worries, against the winds of change. God of every place and time, we confess that we often draw the curtains against people who are different, against world news or community concerns. Forgive us our insulation in our locked homes, our shuttered churches, the security systems on our hearts. Open up our lives, and let your Spirit blow through. Amen.

 
~ written by Rev Teri, posted on revgalprayerpals.blogspot.com
 


 
From the blog
Treasure for our times
How good, how pleasant
Embrace the cities and towns
 

Quiet / rest


 
 
In Mark 6:31 we read how Jesus, at the end of a busy day, ministered to his disciples’ need for rest and restoration, saying:

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Are you in need of some rest and restoration yourself? Hear Jesus speak these words to you, and follow his lead.


Call to Worship

(based on Matthew 11:28-30)

Come, all that are weary, all that are carrying burdens so heavy
Jesus will give us rest
Come, take what Jesus has to offer: love, forgiveness, and grace
Christ will give us peace
Come, find rest, and learn from Jesus
For our Savior will give us rest in our souls
Come, let us worship our God
Let us follow our Savior, who leads us into life.
 
 
~ written by Rev. Mindi, and posted on Rev-o-lution.
 

Treasure for our times


 

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
      he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
      a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
      the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

Isaiah 33:5-6 (NIV UK)

 

Let us look to God and humbly pray that these inspired and inspiring words may come true in our times.


A prayer

Holy God:
with the precious jewel
of holy scripture,
you share with us
the treasure of your heart.
Engrave your covenant –
your hopes, your dreams,
your vision, your peace –
upon our hearts,
that they might beat
as one with yours.

Holy Word:
ever clear,
you keep us from wandering
down the wrong paths;
ever longed for,
you make us persistent
in bringing justice
to the lost and to the least;
ever practical,
you show us how
not to misplace our hearts.

Holy Wisdom:
as you breathe the Word
into our hearts,
tutor us in faithfulness
so we are trained
in using the tools
of justice and hope;
so we are equipped
to share the good news with all;
so we become skilled
in compassion and grace.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our hearts to you.
as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
Our Father . . .

 
~ written by Thom Shuman, and posted on Lectionary Liturgies


From the blog
Food for thought
Grace upon grace
Theme: Sharing in Jesus’ ministry  [prayer sheet]

“A Good Night’s Sleep” inspirations

 

Do not try to cover more than one good day’s journey at a time.

Ann Siddal, from #15

 

In July/August 2019 I decided it was time to address my struggle to go to bed on time, and I foraged for Bible verses and prayers to help me turn over a new leaf, writing them up in a little booklet I made.

My struggles also inspired a song to share with a group of creatives who might also be trying to do too much and regularly miss out on the benefits of A Good Night’s Sleep. (Follow the link for the lyrics and a recording).

I’m still struggling to go to bed on time, but during this Lenten season I hope to make it my daily practice, drawing on my collection of Bible verses and prayers for inspiration, and maybe adding a few more entries.

I share this resource with you, aware that our struggles with sleep may have different causes but a good night’s sleep will benefit us all.

 
Please feel free to share your own inspirations in the comments.
 


#1

We can rest,
we can sleep,
we can say no to this activity or that invitation,
we can quit the exhausting work of trying to sustain ourselves,
because You never slumber or sleep.
You are faithful always.

O my soul, praise the Lord.

~ by Grace Olsen Claus, posted on re:worship (excerpt)


#2

I lie down and sleep;
I wake again,
because the Lord sustains me.

~ Psalm 3:5


#3

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.

~ Psalm 4:8


#4

In vain you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat –
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

~ Psalm 127:2


#5

My soul finds rest in God

~ Psalm 62:5


#6

May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us –
yes, establish the work of our hands.

~ Psalm 90:17


#7

All the lands are at rest and at peace;
they break into singing.

~ Isaiah 14:7


#8

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

~ Psalm 91:1


#9

Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.

~ Psalm 116:7


#10

This is the resting-place,
let the weary rest –
this is the place of repose – listen.

~ Isaiah 28:12 (adapted)


#11

In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength.

~ Isaiah 30:15


#12

I am saying this for your own good,
not to restrict you,
but that you may live in a right way
in undivided devotion to the Lord.

~ 1 Corinthians 7:35 (taken out of context, but still valid)


#13

There will be no rest day or night
for those who worship the beast and its image …

~ Revelation 14:11


#14

Lord, you put twenty-four hours in a day,
and gave me a body which gets tired and can only do so much.
Show me which tasks you want me to do,
and help me live prayerfully, as I do them.
Sharpen my senses that I may truly
    see what I am looking at,
    taste what I am eating,
    listen to what I am hearing,
    face what I am suffering,
    celebrate the ways I am loved,
    and off you whatever I am doing,
so that the water of the present moment
    may be turned into wine.

~ by Angela Ashwin, from The Book of a Thousand Prayers, #262


#15

In the footsteps of centuries of pilgrims, go now …
Consider how you may simplify your days,
so that you may travel lightly.
Be alert to all that could side-track you:
notice that which beckons alluringly,
or with apparently greater urgency,
than the pilgrim journey Christ invites.
Do not try to cover
more than one good day’s journey at a time.

Know when to stop for food and sleep,
so that the journey will not be too great for you.
Walk humbly, knowing that the goal
is not recognition, achievement or reward,
but simply to have come to know Christ
and yourself more intimately.
Be on the lookout for other pilgrims,
caring for those who limp, or fall;
those who cannot see the way forward:
pilgrimage is richer in community.
Go now: place your hand
into the outstretched hand of Jesus Christ,
allow the words of the story to guide you,
and pray for purity of heart and mind. Amen.

~ by Ann Siddall, posted on re:worship (adapted)


#16

God with us in our restlessness and wakefullness,
    give us your rest.
God with us in our sleep and calm,
    give us vision of newness.

~ by Meredith Holladay, posted on re:worship (extract)