It is easy to sing praises,
when the palm branches wave and spring is in the air.
It is easy to speak out,
when it costs us nothing and earns us applause.
It is easy to march
when the sun is shining and the police are friendly.
And it is easy to fall away, when the seasons change.
O God of the broken, God of the cross, God of the scattered stones:
Give us courage enough to stand with You until the bitter end;
and hope enough to rise in the morning, when You begin again.
(NB: Did I write this? Possibly. If you know otherwise, please tell me.)
Forgive us, God, that we compete for your favor,
as if you had not grace enough for all.
Remind us, generous Host,
that the best part of the feast
is in the sharing.
Thanks be to Christ, who invites us all.
We give thanks to you
for the prophets of the past,
but we confess:
your modern-day messengers
make us uncomfortable.
Forgive us, God, and disturb us.
Send your Spirit among us,
that we may hear your Word for us,
in the words of our scripture,
in the whispers of our hearts
in the warnings of your prophets,
and in the weeping of the world.
We don’t know much about the Magi,
and so we don’t really know how costly their offerings were.
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were expensive
and would have seemed precious to the poor family receiving them;
but we don’t know how accustomed the Magi were to such extravagance,
or if these gifts represented any real sacrifice for them.
But we do know that the act of giving was in itself costly.
The Magi made a pilgrimage to a strange and unfamiliar land,
and risked both ridicule and retribution from Herod,
in order to pay their respects to the most unlikely of Messiahs.
Every time we make an offering to the church, or to the poor,
there is more at stake than the money in the envelope;
because in the eyes of the world,
every pilgrimage is a fool’s errand.
Holy One, some of us have traveled far to find you,
and some of us have long roads ahead.
But we step forward in faith, O God,
that at the end of all our journeying
we shall find you waiting for us.
You are our beginning, and our ending, God,
and all our days we dedicate to you.
May the offerings of our hands,
the prayers of our heart,
and the steps of our feet,
bring us ever closer to that kingdom
where Love reigns over all.
We have waited long,
and yet we are not ready.
For who can prepare for your coming?
Our houses untidy,
our promises unkept,
our potential unmet,
we are not ready
to meet our Maker.
Yet you, Jesus,
like any other baby,
will be neither hurried nor slowed,
but will be birthed
in the fullness of time.
Give us holy patience, God,
that we might be wholly ready
whenever our labor
(for Charleston, South Carolina)
God of empty tomb and parted seas,
hear the prayers of your people,
for this is the moment
before the miracle
when seas are rough
and we cannot see land.
Awaken, O God, and help us believe
that you have not abandoned ship.
Speak to the violent of heart:
“Peace, be still!”
and may this storm, too, obey.
God of small things
we marvel that you should care
for the smallest of sparrows
and the tiniest of seeds
while we attend
to the large
and the loud
and the lofty
forgive us, God
to look with tenderness
on all your creatures
for you love us all
though we are
God of all beings, through Christ you bid us:
be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.
But we insist on choosing between the two.
Forgive us, God, our educated cynicism.
Forgive us, too, our ignorant bliss.
Open our eyes to see the world through yours,
lest we mistake ignorance for innocence,
or worldliness for wisdom.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
(image: http://www.forwallpaper.com/wallpaper/bird-versus-snake-678294.html. And yes, I do realize that is not a dove, but its such a cool picture I couldn’t resist.)
Not an easy peace, not a lazy peace, not an uneventful peace,
But the peace of a heart at one with its God.
Not an easy path, not a well-worn path, not a predictable path,
But the path that leads to a world reborn.
Not an easy faith, not a blind faith, not a guaranteed faith,
But a faith that dares and asks and risks.
This is what we have come here seeking:
Nothing less than the living God.