Flower where you are

Opening Prayer

Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness….Psalm 29:2

 
O God,
whose holiness is not limited to
      grand cathedrals or saintly persons,
      spectacular mountains or mountain-moving leaders;
O God,
whose holiness is often discovered in simple everyday places
      and simple everyday folk,
plant Your holiness in this place,
      in us now.
Grow us this hour,
      that we might flower,
      right where we are,
      with the beauty of Your holiness.
Through Jesus we pray.
Amen.

 
~ posted on My Redeemer Lives website.


Note: Next month’s theme is “Response”. Week by week I will be posting a litany based on the lectionary psalm and a sung response I’ve written specially for services in my church in Rotterdam in the month of August. The psalms are Psalm 17, 105, 133 and 124.
 
Get in touch if you’d like to use the litanies too. I can provide recordings and basic notation (melody line and chords).
 

Courage … with joy


Paper mosaic  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame, “for the joy set before him”. (Hebrews 12:1b-2)

 
John Chrysostom, a great fourth-century preacher in Constantinople, also speaks of joy in connection with our suffering for Christ’s sake:

“When we suffer anything for Christ’s sake, we should do so not only with courage, but even with joy. If we have to go hungry, let us be glad as if we were at a banquet. If we are insulted, let us be exalted as though we had been showered with praises. If we lose all we possess, let us consider ourselves the gainers. If we provide for the poor, let us regard ourselves as the recipients. Do not think of the painful effort involved, but of the sweetness of the reward; and above all, remember that your struggles are for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 


A prayer

Transform our memory, Lord, so that whenever we encounter suffering for your sake, we will recall all the saints who have gone before us whose courage and faith brought us this far. Amen.

from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro, p. 193
 

3 prayers for the New Year


ending well …  (Artwork: Irene Bom)
 

Because prayer matters, from one year to the next …

 


#1

O Christ,
tirelessly you seek out those who are looking for you
and who think that you are far away;
teach us, at every moment,
to place our spirits in your hands.
While we are still looking for you,
already you have found us.
However poor our prayer,
you hear us far more than we can imagine or believe.

Brother Roger of Taizé
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #13
 


#2

God, bless our year
giving us
time for the task
peace for the pathway
wisdom for the work
friends for the fireside
love to the last.

The Mother’s Union Anthology of Public Prayers
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #752
 


#3

O Lord, as the years change, may we find rest in your eternal changelessness. Help us to meet this new year bravely, in the faith that, while life changes all around us, you are always the same, guiding us with your wisdom and protecting us with your love; through our Saviour Jesus Christ.

William Temple (1881-1944)
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #749
 


Credits

“If you want to start well, it is deeply connected to ending well.”
from Creative Pep Talk podcast (episode #345), hosted by Andy J. Miller (alias Andy J. Pizza).
 

Amazing to consider

 
Those who were at the October 2021 Presbytery meeting might recognize this verse from Isaiah 40:26, which I posted in the chat to encourage us.
 


Call to Worship

(inspired by Psalm 147)

Celebrate God’s grace!
How comforting it is to know God always accompanies us.
Approach God in awe!
How amazing it is to consider that God has created each of us
      and each star in the heavens.
Praise the living God!
How good it is to sing praises together.

~ written by Ana Gobledale, and posted on Worship Words.
 


 
The story behind the card

I made this card towards the end of a two-week stay at Dutch L’Abri, returning home in time for our October 2021 Presbytery meeting (via zoom). This card is one of a whole pile of cards I made on my last full day at L’Abri, to give away to the staff and guests. I took photographs of all the cards I made, but I only kept this one, and happened to have it on me during our Presbytery meeting, tucked into a notebook.

In our discussions around the future of our Presbytery and the different charges, it seemed a timely reminder, worth sharing: If not one of the stars is missing because of God’s great power and mighty strength, surely we can trust ourselves and our congregations to God’s care and sovereignty too.
 

Playful prayer


 

While I was trawling the internet for play-related prayer topics and resources I came across a website called PLAYFUL PRAYER with the tagline, ‘Exploring creative communication with God’.

The blogs posts are by Susanna from the UK. She writes,

This blog exists to inspire you and I to play and explore with different ways of communicating with God. There are many different ways to learn and express. I happen to be a visual and kinesthetic learner: Truth and beauty sink into my spirit when I see and do. Don’t get me wrong, I do love words: There’s great power in spoken and written word but sometimes I get a bit ‘word weary.’ So, recently I’ve been having lots of fun praying in creative ways.

Here are some ways it’s helped me:

  • Focus when I pray for others (I’m easily distracted!)
  • Going deeper into understanding the bible
  • Emotional healing, overcoming fears, breakthrough freedom and spiritual growth
  • I’ve found new ways to worship God, thank him & mediate on his character
  • Ways to express myself when I can’t find the words
  • By creating something physical and visual it helps to share the joy with others

 
The most recent blog post is dated January 23, 2018. Still, the site is a treasure trove of ideas to inspire playful prayer activities where you are – in your family, church and neighbourhood.

PLAYFUL PRAYER posts you might like:

 

Check it out. Creativity, playfulness and prayer are always in season.

 

Safe to play

I have joined forces with my sister, Daphne (seated in the distance). Together we started this low-key outdoor art project in my neighbourhood in Rotterdam, open to passersby. We meet for a few hours on a Friday afternoon when we can, weather-permitting. We call ourselves “ZO MA outdoor art”. (ZO MA is a version of “zomaar” which means “just like that”.) Daphne’s medium of choice is chalk and mine is frottage, standing up against a tree and transferring some of the texture of the bark onto paper using a thick graphite stick or pencil. I usually turn the results into mini zines (A4 sheet of paper folded and turned into an 8-page booklet). You can find examples of my frottage experiments and mini zines on instagram (irene.bom)

 

A few quotes on the topic of play from a conversation between Esther Perel and Krista Tippett on onbeing.org:

“… playfulness comes with a certain element of letting go.”

“… play and curiosity are so intimately interwoven.”

“… play is when risk is fun. You can’t play when you are in a situation of danger, anxiety, or contraction. So you have to feel safe in order to play.”

 
May you find a safe place to play risk free and follow your curiosity, and may you pass on this gift to others too.
 


A benediction

May God’s blessing rest on each one of you.
May God’s light shine on you, and make your path clear.
May hope carry you through the challenging times,
and gratitude be your response when life is good.

May your days be filled with curiosity and adventure,
and may you discover the incomparable joy
of living lives that bring honour and glory to God.
Amen.

 
~ written by Christine Longhurst and posted on re:worship
 


From the blog
To dance with God
Ding! Dong! Curiosity
Heart’s desire
 

Small beginnings

 

Some things start small and grow over time. Maybe the best things.


The Gift

This time 3 years ago I was working on 12 prayer poems for my series on the Holy Spirit which I entitled The Gift.

You might like to revisit the series as Pentecost 2020 approaches.

 
There’s also a PDF booklet available containing all 12 prayer poems and the verses that inspired them.
 


Prayer-Poems

After completing the series, I wrote the blog post, On Writing Prayer-Poems. This post continues to attract readers in increasing numbers: 18 views in 2017; 36 in 2018; 212 in 2019 and 129 and counting this year.

Prayer-poems are a great way to engage with Scripture. You could make it an online group activity, reflecting on Scripture together, writing and sharing and giving feedback in the group and later sharing your creations with others.
 


Thy Kingdom Come

Don’t forget, Thy Kingdom Come 2020 starts on Thursday.

During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come it is hoped that everyone who takes part will:

  • Deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
  • Pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness

This year’s theme is “The Father’s Love”.

Download the app on your phone (android | iPhone & iPad) or print out the PDF prayer journal from the website.
 

Wonder-full psalm


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Here is an active prayer by Roy DeLeon, inspired by Psalm 139, a truly “wonder-full” psalm and one of my favourites.

 
 
Note:
Roy DeLeon’s book includes drawings for the different poses, but the written “instructions” should be graphic enough to get you praying with body, heart and soul.

 


An active prayer

inspired by Psalm 139
 

O God, you know when I am happy;
Inhale: Express your joy with a smile coming from your heart and radiating out through your hands and feet.

You know when I am in the gutter.
Exhale: Sag your body down, depleted of energy, drained of life.

You know well the choices I make
Inhale: Lift up your arms.

And the paths they lead to.
Exhale: Bring your arms down toward your front foot and check the path you took today.

Your thoughts go beyond my reach;
Inhale: As you breathe in, reach up.

Your depth beyond all thoughts.
Exhale: As you breathe out, reach down, letting your head dangle freely.

I open my eyes, and there you are.
Inhale: Look up toward God in the heights.

I look inward, and there you are.
Exhale: Close your eyes and feel your humanness.

Thanks for your wonderful gifts.
Inhale: Count your blessings and give thanks. Smile.

Because of you, I am wonder.
Exhale: Smile. Radiate God’s joy.

 
from Praying with the body: Bringing the psalms to life by Roy DeLeon, p. 94
 


 
From the blog
Summer-friendly spiritual practices
Fearfully and wonderfully made
walk, run, soar

The Gift revisited

The Gift

 
This blog usually features the prayerful writings of others. One major exception is the series, “The Gift”: 12 meditations with readings and original prayer poems on the Holy Spirit that I published between Ascension Day and Pentecost last year.

As a gift to you for Pentecost 2018, I’ve repackaged the 2017 series as a 16-page booklet in PDF format, ready for printing. To get your copy, click here.

For the original blog posts, click here.

Also, check out the Index to see what else this blog has on offer (past posts/series) and maybe consider signing up (if you haven’t yet done so) to receive future posts in your email inbox.
 

Call of the wild ones


Last year’s clutch of Egyptian goslings behind Rotterdam Central Station
 

On the eve of Ash Wednesday and a new season of Lent, here is a “wild” poem by Joel McKerrow that I found on the Northumbria Community website.

 

As the tamed horse
still hears the call of her wild brothers
and as the farmed goose flaps hopeful wings
as his sisters fly overhead,
so too, perhaps,
the wild ones amongst us
are our only hope in calling us back
to our true nature.
Wild ones
who have not been turned to stone
by the far-reaching grasp of the empire
and its programme of consumer sedation,
the killing of imagination.
Where, my friends,
have the wild ones gone?

Joel McKerrow
 

Can you hear the wild ones calling?

Jesus: ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’ (Mark 4:9)


More Joel McKerrow

Curious to find out more about Joel McKerrow, I found this youtube video featuring another of his “wild” poems: We Dance Wild by Joel McKerrow

You can find the words to “We dance wild” and some backstory on the Abbey of the Arts website.