On the Grind.
A poem by Christopher Ball.
A poem by Christopher Ball.
Inspired by a Kairos Morning on The Lord’s Prayer, Lorina Meade offers this prayer.
Today Sammi McCubbins shares her reflections on the importance of friends and what Jesus says about friendship. This is Lent Day 36.
For Lent Day 27, Mary Pandiani shares some of the writings from a recent Gig Harbor Gathering Hub called Collects style poetry. Learn more about Gathering Hubs.
By Evelyn Gerardo Challis
Opening prayer: As we await with longing the celebration of Christ’s holy birth may we embrace the inner light we have been given through the abiding love of our God. May God’s Love kindle a luminosity that heals the darkness and doubt, fragility and sin of our world within, and the universal world of which we are a part.
Intercession: Carry us, O God, as Mary carried Life within her. Carry us as we yearn for the arrival of fresh perspective, that our life might be given to bringing about a peaceable kingdom of heaven on earth. May those whom we entrust with faith-filled leadership in our nation, and local governance, churches, synagogues, temples, and the sanctuary of our being have eyes that burn with love, hearts that open with compassion, and words that speak your wisdom and extinguish the fires of injustice, we pray.
The Intercession: Protect us, O God, as we journey individually and collectively, through worldwide sorrows, and an upsurge of violence in this nation that have taken lives and loved ones, homes, and hope. Continue to protect all those who speak and serve courageously to bring healing in known and unknown ways. In their care of us, especially the most vulnerable, hold them closely, dear God and give them sustained comfort and protection, we pray,
The Intercession: As we celebrate this Advent season, may we be mindful of the everyday miracles that invite us to remember and surrender to the joy of being God’s beloved, we pray.
The Intercession: Knowing the joy of anticipation and yet profound loneliness, frustration or sadness that may be part of these holy days, may we release dread and reflect the peace of the Spirit that sustains us in times of isolation and separation. May we be turned to your luminous Love, O God, so that you are known in every place, in every welcoming face, in every human heart; seen in our struggles and in our longing; embraced in our suffering and in our rejoicing. We lift up to you at this time the names of those you know well, O God, as they, and we, seek your healing. We pray especially for (Name those for whom you wish to remember.)
The Intercession: Home is where we all belong, O God, and loved ones among us have been welcomed to the home of eternal peace where suffering and pain have ceased and our breath of life is one with yours. We entrust to you those dearly loved who have died, especially (Name those whom you wish to remember who have died).
Closing Prayer: Blessed God, Holy One, hear our prayers and the many more we carry within us. As we speak your name, bless our union with you that it might deepen and still us, so that finally, out of the silence, we might emerge proclaiming that you are in our midst, that you shine in our darkness, that you are at work in our world and that you move us through turbulence to a lasting peace. Luminous One, in Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
God of mercy,
bless this nation of ours.
We pray for liberty,
that none may be oppressed or exploited.
We pray for democracy;
that all voices be heard, and none silenced.
We pray for peace,
that there be harmony, in which everyone’s gifts may flourish.
We pray for justice,
that no one benefit at the expense of another,
that there be a just and equal sharing of power.
We pray for a spirit of patriotism,
that we be faithful to one another as a whole.
We thank you for our freedom, and those who have protected it:
teachers who taught us to question,
neighbors who acted in covenant with one another,
those who spoke out against injustice.
We thank you for the gift of our diversity;
may we honor all people
and celebrate our rich differences.
We thank you for this land, for it is yours.
May we live in reverence for your Creation.
God of mercy, in love of our country we confess
our mistreatment of the poor, and of the land,
our abuse of power, and idolatry of our place in the world.
Temper our might with humility
and our power with compassion.
Mend our divisions, heal our fear,
and restore our love of one another.
Bless this nation,
and bless every nation the same,
for all of us are sisters and brothers.
On this Day of Inter-independence,
bless us O God, and make us a nation of justice and peace,
a nation of benevolence and generosity,
a nation of mutual sharing and cooperation,
a nation devoted to the healing of the world.
God of mercy, bless this nation,
that we may be a nation of mercy.
Used with permission
Steve Garnaas- is a retired United Methodist pastor. He and his wife Beth live in Maine. He often leads retreats on prayer, poetry, and renewing our language about God. He writes a lot of church music. “I am trying to be here now,” says Garnaas-Holmes.
Unfolding Light is a daily reflection rooted in a contemplative, creation-centered spirituality, often inspired by my daily walk in the woods. In poems, parables, psalms, thoughts, and the odd weather report I hope to invite readers into a spirit of presence, compassion, justice, and delight. Though these writings are rooted in the Christian story you’ll hear in them melodies of many traditions. Unfolding Light is for anyone who wants to be a part of God’s healing of the world. You can receive Unfolding Li
Photo by Spenser Sembrat on Unsplash
May all the love you lavish come back to you in a glittery filled
bright ball of sunshine
As you have loved and cried and screamed and ached and nursed wounds in your children and — friends
May all of this come flooding back to you in your time of need.
May it speak directly and clearly to your soul.
You dear one are safe
You are loved
You are known
You are not alone
You are held
All of you — All your story matters
All of you
is safe —and held here
part of the Selah Community
I was in the woods at 8 tonight it was similarly quiet, and they were singing here too
I did not feel joy nor peace
I asked to the Divine to offer grace, tender love, comfort to 21 families tonight
in Texas whose lives were shattered today
I’m so glad I quit Facebook otherwise I’d be ranting at guns and conservatives
Somehow, there is a way to walk in the absolute terror in this world
Hold the space with injustice and cruelty ……
While aiming my own pathway toward peace
I feel unable to do this
And …. the Divine?
She will light the way
As a protestant, I had heard of the Stations of the Cross but didn’t know anything about it until I decided to investigate it this year.
The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations grew out of imitations of the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, which is a traditional processional route symbolizing the actual path Jesus walked to Mount Calvary. The objective of the stations is to help the Christian faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion Story of Christ. It’s one of the most popular devotions and the stations can be found in many Western Christian churches, including Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic.
The Stations of the Cross originated in pilgrimage to Jerusalem and a desire to reproduce the Via Dolorosa. Imitating holy places was not a new concept. For example, the religious complex of Santo Stefano in Bologna, Italy, replicated the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other sacred sites, including the Mount of Olives and Valley of Josaphat.
Usually, a series of fourteen images will be arranged in numbered order along a path, and the faithful travel from image to image, in order, stopping at each station to say the selected prayers and reflections. This is done individually or in a procession usually on Good Friday, in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during his crucifixion. As a physical devotion involving standing, kneeling, and genuflections, the Stations of the Cross are tied with the Christian themes of repentance and mortification of the flesh.
The style, form, and placement of the stations vary widely. The typical stations are small plaques with reliefs or paintings placed around a church nave. Modern minimalist stations can be simple crosses with a numeral in the center. Occasionally the faithful might say the stations of the cross without there being any image, such as when the pope leads the stations of the cross around the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday.
Obviously, as a Protestant, I was puzzled about station six. Who was Veronica? According to Catholic tradition, Veronica was a pious woman of Jerusalem who was moved with pity upon seeing Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha. As Jesus passed, Veronica wiped his faith. A miracle occurred when an impression of Jesus’s face was left upon the cloth called The Veil of Veronica.
And, I never knew that Jesus fell three times as featured in stations three, seven, and nine.
In 1991, Pope John Paul II introduced “Scriptural or Biblical Stations of the Cross.” These fourteen stations are tied to scriptures from the Passion story in the gospels.
You might try meditating on these scriptures at each station. You can use the artwork below.
If you want to pray the stations using the scriptures listed above, there are lots of resources online:
The next time you wear a necklace with featuring a cross, I hope you’ll remember the Passion Story and the Stations of the Cross. May you find Holy Week this year meaningful with the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.
by Debora Buerk
Here & Now
“Experimental Theology” blog by Richard Beck, March 28, 2022
Led by the Spirit of God,
you will be united intimately
with a global multitude of Lenten Pilgrims.
As your Lenten prayers and works
will influence their Easter pilgrimage,
so, likewise, their prayers and deeds
will influence yours,
as together we are reformed and renewed
during these Desert Days of Lent.
A Blessed and Grace-filled Lenten Pilgrimage
and a Joyous Feast of Easter.
priest, author, storyteller, artist
After hearing these words from God the Father “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life,”  Jesus leaves the place of his baptism to enter into the wilderness (also known as the desert). From a place of abundant public belovedness to the quiet and solitary dismantling of all that is more easily relied upon, namely food and comfort, Jesus moves toward the unknown in his desire to hear God’s voice.
Speaking of food, because it is definitely on my mind, my husband, Bill, and I are doing the Whole30 nutritional plan to address some health goals while eliminating those foods that tend to create more cravings and addictions. We’re in the phrase where all I can think about is what I’m not eating, and wishing I could. It happens that our decision coincides with Lent which helps in the motivation to join Jesus in his fasting while in the desert.
However, I’m not so sure I have the same attitude as Jesus. While I would like to hear God’s voice, all I can hear right now are my cravings for foods that don’t really satisfy over time. Craving by definition is a “powerful desire for.” As I admit the reality of my cravings, I find some comfort in realizing that it’s not that far off from what Jesus was having as a craving, only his was to be in communion by intentionally being present to God through solitude and silence in his fasting. He lives into his powerful desire to be with God the Father and Creator of all.
I’m wandering and wondering through my own wilderness of giving up foods that I normally enjoy about what a craving, or even deeper, a longing means to be in communion with God. It is here that I turn to the book In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen where he describes the first test of Jesus in the desert. Jesus faces the first test of three temptations from the Devil who says “[s]ince you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread. Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: ‘It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.’ ”
Nouwen relates how the Devil appeals to the desire we have to be able to fix what’s immediately in front of us, to choose those things that make the most sense for the situation we’re in. If you’re hungry and you have the capacity to make food, why not change stones into bread? Make things right that need to be made right.
But Nouwen addresses something deeper than the seemingly obvious need of food. What’s the motivation behind wanting to make things right in that very moment, touching the chord of our humanity to do what we can as soon as we can? The attractive proposition, or test as commonly cited in this scene, is the desire, the craving, the longing to be relevant in that moment. By relevant, Nouwen describes it as those places where “the self can do things, show things, prove things, build things.” Could it be that we, like Jesus, are being asked to consider another way – a third way – that doesn’t respond immediately to what is relevant? Could it be that we are called into a different posture to speak what is more true, a discernment that comes from being in relationship with God?
That posture is prayer. Moving towards God again and again in the longing to be in communion – that is prayer. Instead of reacting to what it immediate, we can lean into a listening place where we no longer rely on what makes us relevant, or more intelligent, or more adept at a particular skill like changing stones into bread. We can live within the “steady stream of words [spiritual nourishment] from God’s mouth.” Jesus experiences freedom in the desert, even in the midst of his fasting. He knows the longing beyond the perceived craving, a knowing that comes in his willingness to stay focused on the One who fulfills those longings.
Our prayer does not mean we don’t act when we are called to act. Rather, Nouwen offers this perspective: [S]ecurely rooted in the personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative. 
Perhaps then, for me, if I consider this third way, I may not seek to be relevant as much as seek the one who is my source of life. In fact, as I continue this nutritional plan (my own type of fasting), I might be a bit kinder to my husband, an act of being gentle and forgiving. Even more so, I may have the capacity, while in the hardest of places, to frame the way in which I act toward others through the lens of love that comes from communion. Like Jesus offers, it takes more than bread to stay alive. To live fully alive means to be present to God.
 Matthew 3:17b, The Message
 Matthew 3:3-4
 Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, (NY,NY: Crossroads, 1989), p.16.
 Ibid, p. 32.
“My tattered, non-descript, black purse that holds a hundred snapshots
Of days and weeks gone by-
Of coffees lingered over with friends,
The book that cried out to be purchased,
Mine or the kids?
Scraps of notes from the pulpit,
Mountains of change,
Clanging together like a bad symphony“
My long, grey, puffy down coat that has kept me warm
In this unusual season of snow and ice
Whose pocket holds the puppy treats
Used to bribe Ruby on walks to linger in Creation
The stuff stack, still attached,
That gets in the way every time I put it on,
But holds the promise of a backpacking trip
That by its very nature is unlikely,
Being a down coat, after all
Bless, O God, the Ordinary
Bless my vision, that I might see clearly – what is not
Bless my hearing, that I might listen – for voices not of my own
Bless O God, the Ordinary,
That in it, I might see and hear and know the Extra-ordinary
Your Presence in all things.
—by Bev Emerson
Reflections: A Journey through Lent into Easter
from Selah Center
Available now on Amazon