Lenten Reflections: Lenten Prayer for Justice, Mercy & Humility

Here is a short blog and prayer I found on the Sojourners blog that I wanted to repost.  It helps us to focus on what is important, especially during this Lenten season.  Please read and let the prayer be your prayer as you reflect on your own life this Lenten season and how to more effectively live out justice, mercy and humility.  Also check out the link to Micah’s Challenge and how you can participate.  

 

A Lenten Prayer for Justice, Mercy, and Humility

by Brian Swarts 03-04-2009

The season of Lent reminds us of the renewal that came through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Lent is a time to prepare for the coming of Easter and to celebrate the gift of redemption.  Lent is also a time to search for ways we can be part of God’s work of redemption and renewal in our world.

As we search for those things that need renewal here and now, we find the global economic crisis gives us a serious issue to reflect on.  I believe that we have momentous opportunity in America, where the Spirit is calling us to greater leadership on global poverty and injustice in a time of turmoil.  As the global economic crisis increases the number of people vulnerable to extreme poverty, hunger, and disease, it is increasingly urgent for Christians to serve as informed and effective advocates for the poor and the marginalized.  While each of us is hurt by hard times, it is the people around the world living on less than $1/day, facing hunger, thirst, and illness, who bear the greatest burden of this crisis.

That’s why, during this Lenten season, we are inviting Christians around the nation to pray for those who have been hardest hit by the global crisis.  In prayer, you will be joining “Micah Challenge” campaigns in numerous countries—from Great Britain to Rwanda—who have all committed to pray.  Sometime over the next two months gather your family, friends, and church members together in praying our Prayer for Justice, Mercy, and Humility:

Prayer for Justice, Mercy, and Humility

Lord, hear our prayer:

Today we face the season of our redemption during a time of global crisis.

During this season teach us to understand the love that drove you to give up everything to save us all.

Give us the strength that only comes in weakness;

The renewal that only comes through death and resurrection.

Today many of us feel weakened, burdened, and overwhelmed by the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead.

We ask that your strength be made perfect in our time of weakness.

While each of us is hurt by hard times, it is the people around the world living on less than $1/day, facing hunger, thirst, and illness, who bear the greatest burden of this crisis.

Just as your weakest hour proved to be the most generous, most life-giving moment in history,

We pray for that out of our own weakness comes a generosity of justice, mercy, and humility for those who bear burdens greater than our own.

Help us to remember that you are the God who, out of nothing, made everything.

The God who still has the power today to remake us.

So let us be remade, not overcome, by our global crisis;

Let us be purified, and not laid low, by injustice, greed, and inequality.

Let us commit ourselves to:

Act justly,
Love mercy,
And walk humbly with you, and with all those
who suffer or want.

This is our moment to change the world.

Because it is at our moment of crisis where your strength and your light, revealed to the world by our faith, become a force that is stronger than fear or death.

Today, move us to become the answer to our prayers.

Give us the strength to respond, in our own time of need, to the needs of those who have the least in our world.

Lead us to be your agents of hope and renewal during this season of redemption.

For it is only in You that we have
the power to change things;
It is only because of You that we have
the promise of renewal;
And yet is through us that You seek to do all these things.

Amen.

Ways to “Be the Answer” to This Prayer:

  1. Educate your community, church, or campus about the issues facing the impoverished and marginalized in our world.
  2. Advocate for the U.S. to lead other rich nations in pledging emergency aid to the most impoverished nations at the G20 meeting in April.
  3. Join thousands of other Christians praying for justice in Washington, D.C., for the culmination of our Lenten campaign, at the Sojourners Mobilization to End Poverty, April 26-29.


Brian Swarts is the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge USA, a global campaign to make transforming cultures of poverty and injustice integral to the mission of every Christian and church

Lenten Reflections: Ash Wednesday

ash wednesday

I am joining in the reflection this Lenten season with Mustard Seed Associates and their Lenten synchroblog.  You can join in reflecting as well by going and downloading their “A Journey into Wholeness: A Lenten Reflection Guide

As i reflect this day, Ash Wednesday on my own brokenness and sin, i realize how it is always, ever before me… screaming in my face, making sure i know that it is there.  Even on a day that is meant for repentance, for turning away, i have given in to my own selfish desires, and so it will be for the rest or our lives in these fragile and broken bodies of clay.  But, in the midst, there is a beauty… a beauty often hidden or oppressed, yet it is there, and was there from the foundations of our creation.  It comes from the hand of the one who created us; wove us together in the womb of our mother.  The creator’s fingerprint is upon us, even as we are born into and walk within a broken, fragmented world, shattered by the self-seeking sinfulness of humankind.  But, yet, that beauty still exists, in the midst of all the darkness and broken pieces of our lives.  It rises from the ashes of humanities frailty and fractured soul, like a fiery phoenix in all it’s glory, shining like a beacon.  Many times that beauty goes unnoticed, and many times the brokenness is ignored.  it just seems easier to ignore the realities and create a facade that everything is ok, but even in the midst of that is a guilt that lies and says that ‘there is no hope you wretched creature’.  so it is easier to ignore, distract, occupy the mind with other things… busyness, work, material possessions, our selfish needs and desires, while the darkness cries out for us to recognize and acknowledge and the beauty cries out for us to renew, restore and turn towards hope.  

This is the tension we live in, and today, i reflect on this tension; that i am broken, fragmented, pieces… but in the midst, there is a beauty that puts me all back together, makes me new again and again and again… but I must acknowledge one and notice the other; confess the one and embrace the other; turn from the one and run to the other.  This tension is, as my friend Eugene Cho puts it, Beauty and Depravity;  the beautiful mess.  Both exist in us:  we could not be totally beautiful, or the world would be completely different and there would be no need for our Saviour; but we could not be totally depraved either, or there would be no use for us, no hope for us at all.  

So today I acknowledge that I am broken, depraved, sinful.  I recognize my intense need to be restored, renewed, and made whole.  I also take notice of the beauty that has been placed in me from creation and the beauty of the Creator that breathes into me and brings to life the beauty that was originally intended to be.  I turn my eyes, my mind, my heart and my energy back to you O Lord… create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me O God. 

As I close, wanted to post the lyrics to a beautiful song that touches on our brokenness.  It is on the most recent album from Church of the Beloved in Edmonds, WA, called Hope for a Tree Cut Down.  You can download the album and listen on their website here. 

Broken

You are broken, I am broken, everyone is broken
You are broken, I am broken, intimately broken

Stay, there is peace beyond anguish
life beyond death, love beyond fear
and we all have to suffer to enter our glory.

Bless, bless and do not curse.
Pull brokenness far from the shadow of curse
put it under the light of the blessing.

Praise, praise to you Lord
for I never realized
broken glass could shine so brightly.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

While I am all for drinking Guinness on St. Pat’s Day (or on any day for that matter!), I think if we raise a toast at all, we should raise it the the man himself…St. Patrick!  The one who, with the power of God’s Holy Spirit, brought the hope of Christ to the celtic people, who previously were rejected by the institutional Roman church, (who really wants to be a part of that anyway!) and in turn basically…long story short, saved civilization!  So raise your glass today not in honor of yourself or your own pleasure, but in honor of a man who gave his life to bring the hope and love of God to a people that no one else wanted or cared for.  So in honor of Patrick, I have posted ‘Patrick’s Breastplate’, which was the prayer he prayed daily before going out.  May it bring you hope in your own life as you repeat the words, and my God bless you this day and everyday.  May it bring you comfort in a time of need and may it bring you joy in a time of sorrow!  Today, St. Patrick, we raise a pint to you…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!!   Slainté! 
patrickshirt.jpg 
 

Patrick’s Breastplate

 
I rise today in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity,
believing in threeness, confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator.
 
I rise today in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,
in the power of His crucifixion and burial,
in the power of His rising and ascending,
in the power of His descending and judging. 
 
I rise today in the power of the love of cherubim,
in the obedience of angels, and service of archangels,
in hope of rising to receive the reward,
in the prayers of patriarchs, in the predictions of prophets,
in the preaching of apostles, in the faith of confessors,
in the innocence of holy virgins, in the deeds of the righteous. 
I rise today in heavens might,
in sun’s brightness, in moon’s radiance,
in fire’s glory, in lightning’s quickness,
in wind’s swiftness, in sea’s depth,
in earth’s stability, in rock’s fixity.
 
I rise today with the power of God to pilot me,
God’s strength to sustain me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look ahead for me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to protect me,
God’s way before me,
God’s shield to defend me,
God’s host to deliver me:
from snares of devils,
from evil temptations,
from nature’s failings,
from all who wish to harm me,
far or near,alone or in a crowd.
May Christ protect me today
against poison and burning,
against drowning and wounding,
so that I may have abundant reward;
 
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me;Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me;
Christ in my lying, Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising;
Christ in the heart of all who think of me.
Christ on the tongue of all who speak of me,
Christ in the eye of all who see me,
Christ in the ear of all who hear me.
 
I rise today in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity,
believing in threeness, confessing the oneness, of creation’s Creator
 
For to the Lord belongs salvation,
and to the Lord belongs salvation,
and to Christ belongs salvation,
May Your salvation, Lord, be with us always. 

mire – a psalm

–i originally posted this on my friends new creative writing site, scribalmusings.com, so i wanted to post it here as well and let others know about his writing site. check it out and read on!–

mire – a psalm

oh god—why are you silent. where are you? have you left me?
i seek and seek and find nothing but silence and distress.
my words drip off my lips and slam the floor like the weight of a stone
–a crash–
my cries to you barely seem to leave the surface of this earth
how i wish the crash was the sound of the heavy burden falling from my shoulders

come to me soon, or i will be like those who go down to the depths;
in the mire, with no hope for escape. will you pull me out?

and yet — i will still praise you.
although you seem far off — i will praise you.
although the silence is deadening — i will praise you.
although there are no answers — i will praise you.
when all else is laid bare and made into a desolate wasteland,
you still remain, so i will put my trust in you;
even though i am blind, deaf and dumb,
and see no visible future hope;
i know you are with me;
i know you hear my cries,
i know your heart beats to bless me
i know your love shines upon me
i know you know my pain

so i will praise you.
come quickly lord!

My Prayer for You

cdp
this is a prayer from the Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer Book:

May the Father of Life pour out His grace on you;
may you feel His hand in everything you do
and be strengthened by the things He brings you through:
this is my prayer for you.

May the Son of God be Lord in all your ways;
may He shepherd you the length of all your days,
and in your heart may He receive the praise:
this is my prayer for you.

And despite how simple it may sound,
I pray that His grace will abound
and motivate everything you do;
and may the fullness of His love be shared through you.

May His Spirit comfort you, and make you strong,
may He discipline you gently when you’re wrong,
and in your heart may he give you a song:
this is my prayer for you.

May Jesus be Lord in all your ways;
may He shepherd you the length of all your days,
and in your heart may He receive the praise:
this is my prayer for you.

A Prayer for Pentecost

pentecost
Today in the church calendar is the day of Pentecost, when after Jesus had ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to his Apostles, birthing the Christian church’s beginning. Today we celebrate the indwelling of God, the Holy Spirit. This is a prayer for the day of Pentecost:

Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life:
At the beginning of time you moved over the face of the waters;
you breathe into every living being, the breath of life.
Come, Creator Spirit, and renew the whole creation.

Holy Spirit, voice of the prophets:
You enflame men and women with a passion for your truth,
and through them call your people to the ways of justice and compassion.
Come, Spirit of Righteousness, and burn in our hearts.

Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus:
By your power Jesus came to bring good news to the poor
and release to those held captive.
Come, Liberating Spirit, and free us from the powers of sin and death.

Holy Spirit, Advocate, Teacher:
You speak to us of our Lord,
and show us the depth of his love.
Come, Spirit of Truth, abide in us and lead us in the way of Jesus Christ.

Holy Spirit, wind and flame:
You filled disciples with joy and courage,
empowering them to preach your word and to share your good news.
Come, Spirit of Power, make us bold witnesses of your redeeming love.

Holy Spirit, Spirit of Peace:
You break down barriers of language, race, and culture,
and heal the divisions that separate us.
Come, Reconciling Spirit, and unite us all in the love of Christ.

Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life:
At the close of the age
all creation will be renewed to sing your praises.
Come, Creator Spirit, and make us new creations in Jesus Christ.

strugglin’

It’s been a while since I posted anything. I’ve been struggling…pretty much with life. Life comes at you hard sometimes and often when you are taking the heat, you are sometimes at a loss for words. That seems to be where i am right now. I’m certain that soon many words will come out of the place I am in right now, but until then…I will have to refrain. But to keep any readers pacified until i come out with these new words, I have recently (last week) wrote a song called ‘life’ and although the music really makes the song complete, I figured I would post the song here. I was one of those songs that (especially the last bridge part) I looked at and said to myself, ‘where did that come from?’ so here it is…enjoy!

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