A hope that will one day take hold of You

A Prayer for God’s Help by Thomas Aquinas

O Lord my God, help me to be obedient without reserve, poor without servility, chaste without compromise, humble without pretense, joyful without depravity, serious without affectation, active without frivolty, submissive without bitterness, truthful without duplicity, fruitful in good works without presumption, quick to revive my neighbor without haughtiness, and quick to edify others by word and example without simulation.

Grant me, O Lord, an ever-watchful heart that no alien thought can lure away from You; a noble heart that no base love can sully; an upright heart that no perverse intention can lead astray; an invincible heart that no distress can overcome; an unfettered heart that no impetuous desires can enchain.

O Lord my God, also bestow upon me understanding to know You, zeal to seek You, wisdom to find You, a life that is pleasing to You, unshakable perseverance, and a hope that will one day take hold of You.  Amen.

Thomas Aquinas is still considered one of the most influential Catholic theologians whose life of devotion was actually over his family’s strong objections (they actually kept him imprisoned for a year).  He entered the new order founded by St. Dominic to travel around teaching and preaching. Thomas worked out his theology in very long and very tightly argued books, but he was first, a man who loved God deeply.

Thomas was known for bathing all of his scholarly work in prayer, and he wrote many beautiful prayers that can be a resource for all Christians.  This was one of them.

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Prayer for the Family at a Funeral

archregina.sk.ca

Almighty and Everliving God, Abba our Holy Father, we come to You, for You invite us; You wait for us in moments like these.

We come to You through your son – our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have come to know You, Abba, Father.

We come to You by the comforting side of Your own Holy Spirit – He who gives voice to our adoption – He who fills our lungs with the breath of life.

We come to pray for the family of our friend, beloved by so many, and missed now so keenly – – especially by her children, grandchildren, and her great grandchildren.

You know each one; You know who they are – and where they are; You know them completely – You know us better than we know ourselves – for You have made us for Yourself, and we are restless until we find our rest in You.

Enter their sorrow, Lord, like You would walk into and through a canyon – and linger there among them; saunter with them so that when they have

Flash floods of tears, let them expose
Long forgotten strata of life
Laid down in the peaceful decades –
so that they may examine
Every old scar and cut of lament.
May their Weeping wash the wounds clean
And leave them to heal, which always
Takes an age or two.*

Meander with them Lord in such a way as to lead them on, hold them up, and carry their burden from time to time.

Remind them of their lost loved one; sorrow with them, and rejoice with them in their memories. Remind them of where You were in each memory; remind them where You are right now as they grieve.

Remind us of Your eternal truths – that “You are our eternal refuge – and underneath are Your everlasting arms.” Let them feel how You have undermined the depths of their feelings so that they would find You there already.

Remind them of this ancient Psalm you inspired so long ago:

Lord, You have been our dwelling place
    throughout all generations.

Before the mountains were born
    or You brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting You are God.

Now to You O Lord – Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

 

Original Eugene Peterson poem can be found at “Flash Flood of Tears.”

Prayed on the occasion of the funeral of the mother of a friend

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Everything is New

Everything is New

Or, What I learned from my grandson this summer:


He hides to be found
and runs to be caught.

He cries for some comfort
and giggles when glad.

He eats till he sleeps
and sleeps till he eats.

Everything is new,
Every thing is new.

He’s a consuming machine
and go, go, goes till he’s tired.

He plays to have fun
He’s serious – inspired!

He burns out his fuel till he’s tired again
and gets back to work the very next day.

Everything is new,
Every thing is new.

There’s no cupboard unchecked,
nor pot or pan left in place.

There’s no toy un-inspected
or left lost and unpackaged.

There’s no tunnel not crawled into
nor drawer, nor closet too.

Everything is new,
Every thing is new.

He sways something powerful o’er me
as I watch o’er him sleep

Or as I feed him, bathe him,
clean and change him,

Or as I carry and tote him
or let him wrestle me down.

Everything is new,
Every thing is new.

He’s simple and mysterious
this little one, this mighty one.

He makes me laugh like a kid
or sad to be without him.

When exactly did he cast this spell o’er me,
with a wink or a nod, giggle or smile?

Everything is new!
Every thing is new.

 

Written for Peter,  Summer 2017

Such was the summer I had; pure joy connecting a prayer for my son on his wedding day, to this poem for my grandson just before he’d return with my daughter and son-in-law back across the Pacific. Everything is new!

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”                     II Corinthians 4:16 – 17

 

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Pray for the Nation

On this Canada Day, celebrating 150 years of nationhood – here are some suggestions in what, who and how to pray for our nation (taken from nationatprayer.ca):

Pray for Elected Officials to:

  • Be persons of integrity, grace, and conviction
  • Be willing servants
  • Be persons of vision, perseverance & character
  • Be filled with wisdom and discernment
  • Have endurance, health, and protection
  • Have strong, healthy family life
  • Experience physical, emotional and spiritual well-being
  • That the Holy Spirit will guide and guard their thoughts and speech
  • Have the wisdom & courage to do what is right, and have grace in doing it

Pray for the Nation:

  • That Canada will be a country that honours and serves God
  • That Canada will be a nation which demonstrates righteousness, justice, compassion, and generosity
  • That the Holy Spirit will bring a spirit of personal and national repentance across our land
  • That individuals and leaders will seek and demonstrate forgiveness
  • That Canada will be a nation of diverse people accepting, forgiving, sharing and working together for a better Canada
  • That Christians will have both grace and the courage to be bold
  • Pray for the spiritual strength of the nation

Who to Prayer for in the Nation:

  • The Governor General, Prime Minister, Cabinet, Senate, Party Leaders, and Caucus of each party
  • Premiers, Mayors, and Provincial/ Municipal Governments
  • First Nations and Aboriginal Leaders and Councils
    • While Canada may 150 years old, the First Nations have been here long before; therefore pray that we become more of a people who embrace truth and reconciliation.
  • The Supreme Court, Judges and the Judicial system
  • The Military, Police, Fire and Emergency Services
  • The Healthcare System and Healthcare Workers
  • Educators, Teachers, Students
  • Pray for Canada’s Leadership in International Relations and Policy

I will now be taking a summer sabbatical in order to study and write. I look forward to reconnecting with you in the fall. Shalom.

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A Prayer for Companionship

Annapolis Valley; notabletravels.com

In her article, “Landscape and Community“, Maxine Hancock shares something of her transition to live in the Annapolis Valley (Nova Scotia). Her reflection leads to a prayer for companionship.  Here is an excerpt and her prayer:

“Our mountain is most often bright and sunny, but one November, a few years after we had moved, fog rolled and settled down around us for most of a week. The fog acted as a blotter, blanking out the lovely landscape below, sucking up even the shortening light of early winter days. Suddenly, one afternoon, I was overwhelmed up with grief and loss. My desolation of spirit was profound. I felt stripped of identity, friendships, and community. I felt how far away I was from all my friends and most of my family. I was finding, as I had been warned before coming, that there would be no easy welcome here on this coast where people lived in intense familial and social networks intact from their childhoods. I felt how few I knew; how few knew me—or even showed any desire to know me. And I wept from the core of my spirit. Finally, still weeping, I lit a candle to place in the window, then found my grandmother’s little purse hymnal and looked up John Henry Newman’s great hymn, reading it as prayer, “Lead kindly light in the encircling gloom / The night is dark and I am far from home.”

“Dear Lord,” I whispered (or more properly, whimpered,) “wherever I have lived before there have been companions for my journey. So I believe that if you have brought me here, you have appointed some companions for me, and you have appointed me to be a companion to some. Please now reveal these people to me—give me eyes to recognize them and to welcome them when they come into my life.”

And then, quite wonderfully, companions for the journey came into my life, one by one, each a special gift received gratefully from the Great Giver of “every good and perfect gift,” together forming a community of which I am a part. The landscape is lovelier far now that I can name people who live along the roads we drive, and know a little of their stories; lovelier far now because now, when under the silver moonlight that floods into our mountain home, I sit, awake at night to gaze at the pewter gleam of the Minas Basin and then scan the constellations of lights that mark the little towns and acreages and farms along the roads, I can name before the Lord friends and neighbours, pastors and congregations, as far as I can see.

Landscape without deep relationships may be fine for a tourist. But, as I have learned, it will not do for a pilgrim. For now, at least, I am a “settled pilgrim.” This beautiful place and space—both landscape and community—has truly become home.”

Maxine Hancock is Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Studies and Spiritual Theology, Regent College. The author of many books and articles, she now lives in Nova Scotia, with her husband, Cam. You can visit her at her website: www.maxinehancock.ca

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Tongue’s Confession

Words are Powerful – image by Susanne Heaton

Tongue’s Confession by Deene Webb

Clever, clever
I think that I’m so clever,
As poison spits between my teeth.“Hey, I know!” she says, eyes bright,
but sarcasm thick as honey, green as slime
seals
her idea’s fate.They recoil from my poisonous dart.
I counter.
“You idiot. Can’t you take a joke?”
Funny, funny, I’m so funny.Clever, clever
I think that I’m so clever,
As poison spits between my teeth.Virtue pouts.
“Isn’t it the truth?”
“I say what I think, that’s just me!”“Oh, don’t worry, that’s how we roll.”
Truth mixed with lies—pain.
Excuse, excuse like toxic waste.A turn of phrase, a clever dig,
Everyone laughs, I feel big.
Clever, clever
I think that I’m so clever,What is one more poke?
One more jeer? One more curse?
Creation of heart’s protective crust,
that’s what.Clever, clever
I think that I’m so clever,
as poison spills out from my heart.

Awkward, awkward is the foreign.
Praise sticks in my throat.
It thickens my tongue.
I think it but I can’t speak it.

Awkward, awkward is the foreign.
Blessings hang… in the air.
My mind dulls.
I can’t receive, can’t reply.

Clever, clever, I put you down.
I lift me up.
Slowly, slowly you expire.
Slowly, slowly I poison
…me.

Thirsty, thirsty is my soul.
Clever words stole His joy.
Thirsty, thirsty is my soul.
Oh, what can clean the poison
… out?

All this “cleverness” is not so wise when sarcasm drips thick as honey and green as slime. We might successfully fool ourselves, but the exposure of hurtful words is felt by those on whom it is spewed. No wonder James writes:

“… the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire…”

About the Author:

Deene Webb is a friend, mentor, teacher, wife, mother, grandmother, and has finished a career as missionary in Colombia. She wrote this in response to hearing James 3:1 – 12 – demonstrating a teachable and humble posture to God’s word spoken into her life.

May we be so wise as to tame our own tongues in this day of reckless words.

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A Prayer for my Son on his wedding day

A Prayer for my Son on his wedding day:

“Your eyes are so big and bright my son
I can see you smile with your eyes…”

These are the opening words of the song I wrote for you,
   the song that sprung from joyous birth
   the song I sang over you with delight.

I named you with an ancient name,
   as an ever-giving gift;
   I named you for who you are to me.

On your wedding day you are being given;
   For you are the present for this person whom you love,
   this person I can’t help but love as well.

You are the prize – the award – the benefit,
   And somehow we all are the beneficiaries;
   All this from a generous benefactor.

Now may your marriage be an offering to each other,
   May you help each other discover and re-discover
   the mystery of your worth to the One who made you for Himself.

May you be fruitful in family and friends;
May your influence be restorative and healing;
May you be an endowment to the generations.

And with a nod to T.S. Elliot:

… At the end of all your exploring
may you arrive where you started
And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
In Jesus’ presence and care. Amen.

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