Prayers of Illumination – RCL Year C 2018 – 2019



2018.12.2 Comforting God, come to us with a word of hope. We are troubled in a world of sadness and pain. We long for a balm for our aching hearts that we may convey your blessing to others. Amen.

2018.12.9 Come, Light of the World. Show us the way by the example set before us in scripture that our feet may follow the path illuminated by your word of truth. Amen.

2018.12.23 God-with-us, Emmanuel, come to us now in the words of your advent story. Fill our hearts, our whole being with the knowledge of your presence. Teach us to honor the holy in ourselves and in all your creation. Amen.

2018.12.30 Draw near to us, O God, as we read the words of your prophets and apostles. Inspire us with the songs of our forebears in faith that we may sing your praise always and in all places. Amen.

2019.1.13 Beloved Son of God, we come today longing to hear the old story that tells of your life and ministry. Speak to us in words, signs, and ritual that remind us of the new life that is ours. Inspire us then to witness to your love and grace in our lives. Amen

2019.1.20 Healing God, We come longing to for peace in our hearts and our community. Speak to us in words of scripture, open our hearts to hear that we may resolve to follow where you lead. Amen.

2019.1.27 Worker of Miracles, we come longing to hear the amazing stories of your life and work. Open our eyes to see in your work the possibilities available to us through trust in you, so that we may share in your abundance with hope for tomorrow. Amen.

2019.2.3 Holy One, refresh our spirits and our dedication to you as we hear the words written so long ago. May we, having heard your truth, give voice to your will for the world so that your peace and love prevail. Amen.

2019.2.17 Holy One, we come because we thirst for your Living Water. Pour out your mercy on us in the words of scripture. Quench our thirst so that with refreshed spirits we may carry cups full of blessings to people we meet every day. Amen.

2019.2.24 God of peace and peacemaking, we come to you knowing our tendency to put our wants before the needs of others. Teach us your ways so that we might learn to choose actions that bring peace to our families and community. Amen.

2019.3.3 Transfiguration – Radiant God, we come seeking the light. Shine on us in the images of scripture that we may behold your presence among us today, and that beholding, we may share the story of your grace and love. Amen.

2019.3.6 Ash Wednesday -Gracious God, We come with contrite hearts longing to learn from you how to live out our faith. Speak to us that we may gladly live your truth with thankful hearts. Amen.

2019.3.10 Open our hearts, O God, to hear the words that tell the story of your people. Teach us the way of Jesus, that in our work and in our play, in our families and in our community we may know and live his way of compassion. Amen.

2019.3.17 Loving Savior, we come with longing hearts to listen once again as you speak your words, your truth. Inspire us with words that provoke and challenge, that comfort and heal, so we may be transformed to serve God and our neighbor. Amen.

2019.3.24 Living Water, we come to you, spirits parched, souls thirsty for your water of life. Renew us through the hearing of your word of second chances. May we take to heart the call to daily repentance so our lives might be fruit-filled blessings to the world. Amen.

2019.3.31 Jesus, Guide and Guardian, we are lost without a touchpoint when we do not attend to your word. Speak now your words of truth. Engrave them on our hearts, so that knowing your lovingkindness, our lives may be filled and overflowing with your saving grace for all the world. Amen

2019.4.7 Wellspring of Life, our spirits yearn for a message of hope. Fill our hearts with the water of life, that, spirits refreshed, we may share your message of rebirth and renewal to all who are discouraged. Amen.

2019.4.14 Loving Jesus, Humble Leader, we come from our place in today’s world and a very different landscape, yet we believe in our hearts, you have timeless truths to share with us. Speak to us now in the words of your story from long ago. Teach us to find in them find a blessing and a guide for today and tomorrow. Amen.

2019.4.18 Maundy Thursday – Longing to know you more fully, we come tonight, O Jesus, to hear a word of hope for this broken world. Speak to us a word for tonight and for tomorrow, when the worries of the world threaten to overwhelm us. In hearing your truth, may we find the courage to witness to your love despite the brokenness we see in ourselves and around us. Amen

2019.4.19 Good Friday – Holy One, in our grief, memory fails as we struggle to understand the meaning of the death of Jesus. Speak to us again the words he spoke, so that hearing we might comprehend the extent of his deep love for humankind, and understanding we may choose to walk in his Way of love. Amen.

2019.4.21 Easter – Surprise us today, O God, with words surpassing our understanding, and so may our hearts be open to wonder, today and every day. Amen.

2019.4.28 Dear God, Sometimes your stories seem too good or too unexpected to be believed. Open our hearts and our minds as you speak to us in the patient words of Jesus, that we may be open to the promise and possibility of new life for us, even now. Amen.

2019.5.12 Speak to us, O God, the familiar words of comfort and compassion. Raise us to new life in the hearing of your words of hope that we may be inspired to as your co-creators to build communities of safety, peace, and blessing. Amen.

2019.5.19 Steadfast God, we come in need of your inspiring word. Remind us of your enduring hope for humankind that we may learn and live into new possibilities of creating community. Amen.

2019.5.26 Life-giving God, we who forget our role in your creation come in need of a reminder of your charge for us. Open our hearts to listen and to hear your words that we may know and follow the path you set before us. Amen.

2019.6.2 Holy One, we come to listen to the words of Jesus. May we hear his voice echoing through the centuries inspiring us even now to follow, and may our hearts be filled with courage to witness to his timeless call to love one another. Amen.

2019.6.9 Pentecost – Holy Spirit, today we listen for the rushing wind that speaks of your coming among us. Breathe in us words we recognize and understand and settle upon our spirits this day, this hour. Breath of Life, renew and inspire us to share the joy your presence brings. Amen.

2019.6.16 God of All Creation, speak to us now your timeless truths. We come wanting once again to hear the story of your presence in time and eternity so that knowing our place we may be moved to share the work and witness you call us to do. Amen.

2019.6.23 O Great Physician, we come longing for a word of hope for our wounded world. Speak to us words of comfort from the story of Jesus so that, heartened by his compassion we may boldly spread the Good News of your care. Amen.

2019.6.30 Loving God, open our minds and fill our hearts with your words of wisdom and grace, that led by your Spirit, our lives may demonstrate that your dream of creation in harmony is possible when we are in tune to your message. Amen.

2019.7.7 Speak to us O God, Bearer of Truth, in the words of your people long age. Inspire in us an understanding of your will as we listen to the ancient text, that hearing we may be moved to understanding and living your call to embrace all your creation as one holy expression of your wisdom. Amen.

2019.7.14 Creator of Stories, tell us once again the story of Jesus. Speak to us his words of compassion, that hearing we might understand how we can offer care to those who are most in need today. Amen.

2019.7.21 Great Teacher, Speak to us as one who would lead us from our broken places to discover the hidden treasure within that we may value even the brokenness as places where the light of the Spirit can shine through as a witness to your grace and mercy. Amen.

2019.7.28 Blessed Jesus, we come to you in our weakness and vulnerability, longing to hear your words of reassurance, wisdom, and hope. Speak to us now, draw us closer to you and to one another that we may be builders in your kin-dom of grace. Amen.

2019.8.4 Word of God, we need your wisdom to guide us. Speak to us a message of hope and inspiration to light our way into the future, so that, filled with your truths our lives may be filled with compassion for others and joy in serving your holy will. Amen.

2019.8.11 Speak to us, Blessed One, the words we long to hear. Words that assure us of your presence, your care, your guidance for us in routine and troubled times. May your truths inform all our actions for we want to follow as you lead us into right relationship with all your beloved children. Amen

2019.8.18 Loving Creator, we want to know more about you and your hopes for creation. Speak to us through the words of those who lived long ago. May their words and Christ’s example inspire in us openness and care for all you have made. Amen.

2019.8.25 Life Giver, We come to you, a broken people. Speak to us words to in words that lift our spirits and encourage our restoration. Teach us how to care for ourselves and one another that we may be agents of your healing peace for the world. Amen.

2019.9.1 Speak to us, O God. We long to hear your voice. We are in need of guidance and direction for the road is rocky and the path steep. Put our feet on the right path so our work and witness may point to your way of peace. Amen

2019.9.8 Creating God, We come to you longing to hear the stories of our beginnings and your intentions for us. Speak to us in the words of your prophets and all the faithful. So may we be inspired to spread the news of your presence every day in all the world. Amen.

2019.9.15 Life-giving God, we are a thirsty people. We long for refreshment of our souls. Pour down on us the lifeblood of your Wisdom so that, our emptiness filled, we shall bring your truth to all our relationships and work in the world. Amen.

2019.9.22 Faithful God, we are in constant need of reminders of your example for us. Speak to us now in the old, old story. May we be inspired, through our listening and hearing, to share your love and grace with those we meet each day. Amen.

2019.9.29 Teacher, we come with hearts that are hurting from the brokenness of the world. Speak to us of your ways and your will. As we hear your truth, move us to embody your love that we may reach out sharing your healing balm with those in pain. Amen.

2019.10.6 Holy One, there are times we feel lost and alone in this world of chaos. We long for your word to center us. Speak to us now a word of hope that, reassured of your constant presence, we may go into the world bearing your peace. Amen.

2019.10.13 God of creation, speak to us through the words of the prophets reminding us of your love and care for all the world. May we be moved to reach out beyond our comfort zone to embrace the ones you love to work toward your dream of a world in harmony. Amen.

2019.10.27 Jesus, Teacher and Friend, we gather around to hear your stories, parables that engage us in puzzling out life’s challenges and opportunities. Speak to us now and give us patience and insight to discern the meaning of your story so that our lives may be reflections of your love for all humankind. Amen.

2019.11.3 Holy Comforter, We come to you in times of longing in hopes of a word of encouragement and comfort. Speak to us of your love. Teach us your truth that internalizing your care for us we will be moved the share the story of how you renew us with your never-ending grace and mercy. Amen.

2019.11.10 God of Wisdom, Sophia, we come in need of your truth to guide us. Speak to us now through the voice of prophets so we may be led to live in gratitude and mercy. Amen.

2019.11.17 God of Abundance, we come to hear the stories of your people and your promises. As we listen to your word, we learn a word of gratitude so that in our thanksgiving we may know joy and spread your love and mercy. Amen.

2019.11.24 Wisdom of the Ages, teach us how to live. In the stories of the faithful throughout time, show us how to be friends one with another. Lead us then to practice your ways of compassion, love, and mercy with everyone we meet. Amen.


Christ Jesus, Bearing the Darkness



2017.4.14cross for post

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 31-35 (NRSV)

What are we to make of Jesus’ passion and death?
The leader chooses to take basin and towel in hand,
to bow down as a servant to wash the feet of his followers.
We might describe the poignancy of the task
and the meal he shared as anticipatory grief
for the gospel writers let us know the intentionality
with which each moment of the evening is observed.
A simple meal is given new meaning
through the charge to remember in its repetition.

And then, they move on,
out into the gathering darkness of the night,
to face the darkness of the world mired in sin.
As he has so often on a mountain or by the sea,
Jesus stops to pray, this time in a familiar garden.
It is an olive grove hundreds of years old
that will go on for generations to come, even to this day.
He is not alone. The disciples are nearby,
but he feels the abandonment of those who betray and deny him,
who cannot or will not watch with him.
It is the loneliness he has experienced in observing the least, the lost,
those who have been rejected and misunderstood.
These are the ones for whom he will stand trial.

In the courts, he stands alone, endures the taunts of the crowd
who sneer at one who claims power, a strength
that is not defined by greed – enforced by any means.
He stands silent as they mock him and inflict brutal pain.
He bears the despair of those whose hope is dim,
who are not valued but rather used and abused.

He is mourning for the world that cannot see or understand
that in all creation are other real living beings loved by God and worthy of care.
He chooses to confront injustice in its most stark and raw form,
exposing just what it is, a lie that assigns blame to the innocent.
The choice he makes in laying down his life is done in the hope
that holding up a mirror to humanity will reveal the senseless suffering.
His greatest desire is that all will grasp the immensity of this gift of grace
and be inspired to another way of living.

And so we remember and pray for strength to listen, to hear, to look,
and to resist turning away from that mirror held up for us
so we might learn once again to live as he taught,
loving God, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Paul’s Letter and Labor Day


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Paul’s Letter and Labor Day – Think of five activities you engaged in the past week. These should include another person or some type of item. List simple daily or weekly tasks, people with who you interacted or items you used in your home, work, play, entertainment, leisure, shopping, transportation, or something you observed at a distance. Think of a diverse list, items as different as possible.

(See activity sheet – Provide a sheet with the above paragraph which invites listing 3 items. Instructions will be given later, providing a visual of the BakerFacesPainRatingScale, google it. Then people will reflect and discuss possible actions. )

Item: _________________________________________________________

Rate this 0 to 5          0     1     2    3    4    5

Action: _________________________________________________________


Pastor’s words of instruction:

What kind of work environments have you experienced? Have you had the good fortune to be in a place where affirmations were a daily experience, where even small contributions by skilled and unskilled workers were affirmed as values in the working of the whole? Have you experienced settings where the boss was always on top of everyone, second-guessing every action, reprimanding people for imagined mistakes, seemingly creating opportunities for conflict? Have your coworkers been eager to help out when a sudden crisis arises or have people complained about what goes on without making any effort to understand what could be done to relieve it?

Paul says we are to treat each other as siblings in Christ. He asks Philemon to receive Onesimus, not as a runaway slave, but as a brother. The activities or items you listed involve other people in some way. In some cases, others were directly involved in the activity. In other cases, people made and/or supplied the item you listed or recycled/disposed of it when no longer useful to you. Sometimes people engaged in the work of making your entertainment possible depict actions that are either life-affirming or troubling. Or entertainers may themselves be celebrated or reviled.


(Distribute the following questions and the pain scale and invite reflection and sharing.)

You are invited to rate the way in which the other people in the activities or the people behind the items you listed were and are treated by you and/or by society. Are they affirmed or are they discounted?

Using the rating scale below*, rate the perceptions and actions of society in general as causing no harm to causing much suffering to the people involved. Ask yourself these questions. What comes up for me as I reflect on this text from Paul? Do I contribute to any suffering? What can I do to change or alleviate the suffering or to raise awareness of my concern?



(Gather in small groups to discuss what you have observed. Provide time for sharing observations with the whole. Facilitate and affirm conversation. Conclude with prayer.)

Holy One, you call us to labor, to be caretakers of earth, good stewards of your bounty, and you call us to take time to rest in your divine presence. Teach us to be aware of those whose labor is rarely rewarded with time of rest, those whose compensation is not enough to supply even basics of shelter, clothing, food, school supplies, and health care. As many celebrate a holiday this weekend others must work the sales. Some have no option, there is no work on the holiday and thus a reduced paycheck awaits them at week’s end.

Be with us, O God, in our desire to seek and do justice in your name. Lead us to sit with the disadvantaged, to affirm their skill and contributions. Challenge us to give of ourselves so that all may find room at the table. Amen

Earth Day Blessing of Garden and Field



St John Garden

Creator God, we come to you in gratitude for the gifts of this earth.

From the beginning of time this ground has been sacred;
shaped by your hands,
sculpted by your breath,
watered by summer rain and winter snow,
enriched by elements and multitudes of creatures,
it is holy in your sight.

We come, O God, this day remembering those
who have walked upon this land in every age, caring for it.

For native peoples
who honored the Great Spirit, Mother Earth, Father Sky,
as Giver of all, respecting earth as communal inheritance.
who trod this land mindful of the seasons of the grassland prairie,
staying for a time and living lightly in this place,
generously sharing with plant and animal species alike.

For our forebears who found this fertile ground a place to call home
tilling the rich soil to feed the hungry near and far,
terracing fields to preserve their future use,
planting trees to endure for generations.

Grant, O God, that we also may be faithful to your call
to care for all creation.
Teach us so to guard and nurture this space
that our children and our children’s children
may know the joy of working the earth,
the mystery of life that springs from it,
the feast for the senses; sight, smell, and taste,
nourishment for body and soul from an abundant harvest.

Bless our gardens and fields as we rededicate them to you.
Bless those who till, plant, weed, and harvest
that rejoicing in your care for us we respond to your call
to tend the earth and our fellow beings. Amen.

Journey through Lent 2016



prayer for Lent

The season of Lent begins Wednesday, February 10. It is a time to pray and reflect, to forego some of our extravagances; a time to learn simplicity; to practice gratitude by living in just relationships with all beings. In this newsletter you will find a calendar that offers ideas for living into these practices.

In successive weeks of the Lenten journey you are invited to choose yourself, someone you know, the earth, or God as the focus of your week’s Lenten activities. The church has long encouraged three aspects to this journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and tending relationships. Those are the act of prayer, the act of giving of self, and the act of fasting or restraint.

I invite you to choose one day each week to reflect on your life and relationships with the suggested recipient of your caring. Devote a bit of time this day for a prayer, an act of giving, or an act of giving up (restraint) in your relationship with that recipient.

You may want to make a copy of the calendar. Use it as a diary for your journey through this season of Lent. Write on it what you have chosen to do or forego, how you have been in prayer for the person or some aspect of your relationship.

Try for a minimum of the three days. As you become more comfortable with this discipline you may want to extend the practice to other days of the week as well.

As we come to Easter consider how have you been blessed by trusting in God to walk beside you. Think about how you might share what this journey meant to you as it proceeds and when we come to Easter and the days beyond.

I offer my prayers for Lenten blessings, learning, and peace for your journey.

2016.2 Calendar for Lent


Iowa Snow



The day dawns bright and clear.
Frigid air sharpens the senses
awakening me to possibilities.

Here in Iowa
it’s impossible to know
how much snow fell yesterday.
The dark and dreary day,
wind howling,
as snow flew across the sky and field
left miles swept clean, or nearly so,
grass and corn stubble
peeking up through a mere dusting of white.

It makes little sense to clear the snow
until the wind dies down
and the storm is over.
My driveway
is piled heavy and deep
this morning.
Shovel in hand
I head out to greet the challenge
of this new day.
2015.2.26 Crisp Morning

Greeting the New Year


As I walk today

stately trees wave their greeting.

Some still hold fruit

in offering for hungry birds

and other creatures of winter.

Proud oaks cling to what now seems ragged and drab,

apparel of days past

a hedge, perhaps, against the chill.

Around them others greet the day

with bold abandon

release all semblance of cover.

Stark skeletons, they stand against bright sky;

the old, gnarled, wizened ones

and eager young saplings alike,

lean hopefully into tomorrow.

Each prepared to welcome possibility in the new year.


How will you greet the New Year?

What from your past will you take forward into the future?

What former experiences and disappointments must you release?

How will you make room for new possibilities?

Peaceful Pebbles

prayer beads

I chose the name Peaceful Pebbles 10 years ago when I began making prayer beads. I had made and used my own beads and wanted to reach out to others through the practice I found meaningful. I designed these prayer beads to give my friends and patients as a tangible reminder of my prayers for them, to introduce conversations about prayer with confirmation classes, as devotions for women’s groups, and workshops about spiritual practices. The beads are small enough to go in a pocket. Many folks keep them on dashboard or nightstand. I include my thoughts on the design with the beads. ©2004 Design by Judy K Brandon

May these beads help you to focus prayer:
Round bead for the world and its people,
Leaf for gifts of nature,
Circle for wholeness of body, mind and spirit,
Star for the people you hold dear,
Teardrop for your own special prayer concerns.

Vibrations of an Iowa Countryside



The bean fields are brilliant this morning,
their gold screaming across the autumn landscape.
Down the road a fresh green fuzz springs up,
shouts back from the hillside
where hay was cut and baled a few weeks since.

This scene seems a note out of time.
Palettes of spring and fall compete
in a symphony of color gone wild,
the result of uncharacteristic soaking rains
this August and September.

The countryside vibrates with such intensity
I can hear it trumpeting the call
to gather combines and threshers for harvest.