Sunday, January 18, 2015
Last Sunday we had a guest preacher. This Sunday we offered a contemplative prayer service: no sermon; instead, we sang prayers, enjoyed silence, meditated on scripture, and enacted our prayers through four prayer stations located around the chapel. Many in the congregation chose to write prayers at one prayer station. I’ve combined these prayers and inserted them into today’s worship bulletin under The Community’s God Prayers. At least two of these beautiful prayers were written by young children. I’ve copied them exactly as they were written during our meditation time.
Second Sunday after Epiphany
A Contemplative Prayer Service
WORDS FOR REFLECTION
“Contemplative practice [is]a surrendering of deeply imbedded resistances that allows the sacred within gradually to reveal itself as a simple, fundamental fact.” —Martin Laird
“The most dangerous man in the world is the contemplative who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attractions of an interior voice but will not listen to other men. He identifies the will of God with anything that makes him feel, within his own heart, a big, warm, sweet interior glow. The sweeter and the warmer the feeling is, the more he is convinced of his own infallibility.” —Thomas Merton
MUSIC FOR PREPARATION “Quiet Descending”
*LIGHTING THE CHRIST CANDLE
*SINGING TOWARD PRAYER “Holy Ground” supplemental songbook
WELCOME Pastor Ellen
WORDS FROM OUR CHILDREN
WORDS FOR OUR CHILDREN I Samuel 3: 19
As Samuel grew up, God was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.
SINGING IN THE QUIET “Quiet Descending” supplemental songbook
THE PSALMIST’S PRAYER Psalm 139:1-6;13-18
Voice 1: O God, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit
down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O God, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Voice 2: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Voice 1: Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, before they existed.
Voice 2: How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them–they are more than the sand; I come to the end–I am still with you.
CALL TO STILLNESS “Be Still and Know” p. 17 in songbook
REFLECTION ON THE PSALM
What might it mean for God to contemplate us?
The community names God’s concerns and joys.
SONG “God’s Eye Be Within Me” pp. 28-29 in songbook
*GOSPEL READING John 1:46-50
Philip said to Nathaniel, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”
PRAYER STATIONS (The people are invited to visit one or more prayer stations. Instructions are below.)
**Praying With God. The Psalmist images God contemplating us. Reread today’s Psalm. How might Divine Love and Justice regard us—seeing our needs and suffering, celebrating our breakthroughs, caring about our inadequacies, mourning life’s unfairness. What might God’s prayer (for ourselves, our world) be? Take the paper and pens provided and return to your seat to compose part of “God’s Prayer.” Then place your contribution to “God’s Prayer” in the basket provided. These individual God prayers will be read aloud near the close of our service. Children or adults may prefer to draw a picture of God’s concerns.
Praying Through Art. “Come and see,” Philip said to Nathaniel. “You will see greater things than these,” said Jesus. Seeing the painting No Traveller’s Borne by Jess may enable us to pull back from our close-range look at life. God’s view is even wider than this artist’s, of course, but this replication of an oil on wood painting might put our troubles and aspirations in perspective. Silently unite your heart with the All.
Praying Under God’s Gaze. For many of us, looking into the mirror is not always comfortable. Spend a few moments sitting comfortably in front of the mirror provided and seeing your reflection not as Madison Avenue or popular culture or your self-critical inner eye sees you. See you honestly yet tenderly—as a God of Supreme Love sees you. Aspire to self-knowledge, self-forgiveness, self-care, self-actualization, self-growth.
Praying By Giving and Receiving. At Christ’s Table, we give what we can and receive what God always supplies: forgiveness, grace, love, hope. The simple meal from the fruit of the vine and the grain of the field is reason enough for thanks. The memory of Jesus’s God-lit life calls us to express thanks with our very lives. In faith we see God in and through the bread and cup. Pray as you give your offerings and make your life an offering through this sacred meal.
**THE COMMUNITY’S GOD PRAYER (The pastor reads the collective prayers the community has written—prayers God might pray for us.):
God’s prayer for us is an understanding that it is through the differences between us that we participate in the divine.
You know all of my anxiety. All of the fantasies that are not real but that seem so real. Help me to let go of trying to figure it all out. Help me to know your peace.
You are dearly loved and cherished, forever. There is nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong, so quit worrying and freely pursue your passion, your dreams, your growing into who you are in me!
Simply . . . learn to love each other without prejudice, pride, or self-interest.
Let them find peace that will love.
May you not turn me into an idol.
May you keep a sense of humor and refrain from taking yourself too seriously.
For ears that are open and hearts that listen. For minds set free from bondage and theory. For the oppressed, that someone would reach out to them. For faith no matter how small. For unity, and resiliency.
That pe0pole would be nice to other pepole.
Relax. Open your eyes. Be thankful.
I am very proud of you. Because God likes that we are ourselves. And he is happy because we can help people.
I see that you want to follow my ways and to do what you see as my will. This pleases me. I also see that you are anxious about following me perfectly and getting my will exactly right. You don’t need to worry about that. Instead, I want you to be still and know my presence in you and let my presence flow through you to others in your world. I’ve loved you since the beginning. Nothing will change that.
- I believe God would pray for:
- peace and love among all people without any exception.
- understanding of his word without the nitpicking that we tend to do
- unconditioned love for not only oneself but for every person
- knowledge for his people that you are only judged by the heart and its content.
Pray that my people learn to love unconditionally, that they open their hearts and minds to know that only by love will we have true peace. Pray for understanding of things that are different because everything and everyone is a wonderful creation from God.
Stop—being so busy. Spend more time with me for I will bring you the peace and love and true joy that you have been seeking.
However . . . you can . . . just for a second, a minute, let go of your present concern, worry, I’ve got you covered. Love you.
Be still. Do not worry about mundane matters. You are with me. I will lead you and guide you and sustain you. Focus. Continue.