Thursday, February 19, 2015

Today's Prayer

Lord Jesus,
Forgive those things I have done
which have caused You sadness,
and those things I should have done
that would have brought You joy.
In both I have failed
and You.
Bring me back to that place
where my journey began,
when I said that I would follow
the way that You first trod.
Lead me to the Cross
and meet
me there.
I ask this in the name of the Father,
the Son, and they Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More thoughts on Ash Wednesday: Practice giving to someone in need

Paul Ackroyd shares these words from today's "Upper Room" reading:

Isaiah 58:1-12
58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.
58:2 Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.
58:3 "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.
58:4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.
58:5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
58:6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
58:8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
58:9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
58:10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
58:11 The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
58:12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

God said, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?” - Isaiah 58:6-7 (NRSV)

I have always thought of Lent as a time of fasting in the sense of “giving up” something, either a lunch or some daily treat such as candy or coffee. The customary question in my faith community is, “What are you giving up for Lent?” I had never thought about doing anything else as a Lenten practice until one morning when I read the passage above from Isaiah, then later that same morning encountered a divine example of that passage.

While I was driving to work I noticed a drably dressed, bearded man standing at a busy intersection. He held a sign that read: “Homeless Veteran, need help!” Instantly, I recalled the words of Isaiah about what kind of fast God desires: “to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house.” I gave what help I could to that man.

My Lenten practice changed that very day. Now during Lent, my practice is not to give up something but to give something to someone in need.

Thought for the Day
When we fast, God helps us to identify with — and reach out to — those in need.

Dear Lord, help us during this Lenten season to look beyond ourselves and give to those in need. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Prayer focus:  The homeless in my community

The Author
Edward L. Kelly, Jr. (Iowa)

Ash Wednesday

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the 
earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our 
mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is 
only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. 

Today is Ash Wednesday, and we have been invited to observe a Holy Lent. For some, this may mean abstaining from something like wine or meat or candy. For others, this may mean taking on a new project such as writing in a journal or organizing a closet or completing photo album. Others may elect a more spiritual practice such as reading daily from Scripture. As Suzanne reminded us in her Ash Wednesday sermon, the objective is not to make ourselves feel more pious, but to acknowledge and accept our failures, then repent and find ways to bring ourselves closer to God. Through repentance, we commit to a personal change and resolve to live more responsibly and humanely. In our lives as Christians, we try to respond as Jesus calls us.

I have always struggled with prayer. It does not always come easily to me. This year for Lent, I am resolving to devote more time to prayer each day. I will be praying for my family, my students, my colleagues, and everyone at St. Mark's. I will pray for the homeless, the hungry, and the mistreated. I will pray for my friends and for my enemies.

I will post some of my prayers here on this blog, and maybe you, too, will find new ways of growing closer to God on your journey through this season of Lent.

Dear God,
You have inscribed upon our hearts,
the maker’s mark,
the Word of God,
beautifully written,
that all God’s people
might know
that we are precious
of a heavenly Father
becoming family together.
May our eyes lift upward
as we listen together
to hear angels worship.
We ask this in the name of your Son our Savior,
Jesus Christ.

(This prayer is adapted from one I found here

What will you be practicing as your Lenten discipline? Will you be giving up something or taking on something? However you decide to make your way toward the Cross this Lent, I hope it brings you closer to God.

Jody Clark
Senior Warden of St. Mark's