A Mother’s Day Pastoral Prayer

There are too many prayers to name on Mother’s Day.  Our Mothers, Grandmothers, stepmothers, and others who act as mothers play such important roles in our lives.  We are grateful for their love, care, and understanding.  We remember the example of Jesus, even while upon the cross, caring for his mother’s needs.  May we be aware of the needs of our mothers and the women who care for children and families in our community.

Today we pray for those in the paths of natural disasters.  We especially remember our sisters and brothers in Hawaii.  Earth is not ours to tame or control.  God of creation, calm the chaos and provide time and space for those who are in danger to be moved to safety.

We pray for those who were injured last evening in attacks on churches in Indonesia and on the streets of Paris.  Hate is not a divine calling.  We pray for the victims of violence everywhere.

For those who suffer, seek medical treatment, and dwell in the thin places of life; we pray for their comfort and healing.  Gracious God, bring peace and assurance to them in moments of uncertainty and pain.  Help us to be ministers of presence and people who listen.  We are not called to have the right answers.  Help us to ask the right questions. Help us remember that we are to be present and aware.  May we become living instruments of your grace and mercy.  In the silence of our hearts, we remember those we have named this morning.

Amen.

Richard Lowell Bryant

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A Prayer for Today

God,
Save us from ourselves.
Save us from others.
Save us from visions of grandeur.
Save us from the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Save us from seductive lure of apathy and self-righteous indignation.
Save us from our sinfulness.
Forgive us when we speak hollow words dressed in the guise of the prophetic language.
Forgive us so we may forgive others.
Forgive us for seeing the worst in others.
Forgive us for missing your point to focus on our agendas.
May our witness stand in contrast to evil,
May we give until we are empty,
Until we are completely dependently upon you,
For our joy and hope,
Compassion and empathy,
Reason and being,
Vision and movement,
Life and death.
As Resurrection People we pray,
Amen.

Richard Lowell Bryant

A Palm Sunday Prayer

Gracious God,

I’m not really a “parade person”. Crowds make me nervous and I’m always afraid I’ll mess up the group chant. I never get the “wave” right in stadiums. So Palm Sunday, as you might imagine, makes me a little nervous. Who am I kidding, I’m terrified! I’m not sure when to come in with my, “Hosanna in the Highest, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. As I stand in the crowd on Sunday morning, I ask you to hear my prayers, spoken from the silence of my heart:

Help me, in the days to come, to focus on what matters most,
Help me to see beyond the crowds and look to you,
Help me to find ways to block out the sounds of crowd,
Help me to listen to you when others put words into your mouth,
Help me to offer my heart when others offer their cloaks,
Help me find a place to be where you need me most.

Amen.

Richard Lowell Bryant

Pastoral Prayer – January 28, 2018

Gracious God and Astounding Lord,

You come into our presence with authority.  We are once again amazed by your message.  The things you say and do are like nothing we have seen or heard.  Yet, in our complacency, we still manage to take you for granted.  You do not preach with anger or rage.  You speak with an authenticity that reflects your love for us.  For you the law is not a tool to accomplish some distant political end.  In hearing you, we understand that if scripture does not bring us together as sisters and brothers in the kingdom of God, it is impossible to do it on our own.  O Christ, we need you.  Your words come alive with compassion and hope.  They pull us together when we would prefer to be alone and driven by shallow self-interests.  Your words convict us to act, inspire, and do more than we ever thought possible.  When we are bound routine, the rituals of our lives become acts of service and love.

You have heard the names of the loved ones we have lifted this morning; both those spoken and those shared in silence.  They are near and dear to us.  Some we know by name, some by situation, for others, only you Lord, can truly understand their needs. For those suffering pain, loss, grief, fear, sickness, and addiction, we ask that you draw them close to your heart at this time.  Be with their families, friends, and others who support them.  Give them strength to continue on their journeys of recovery toward wholeness and healing.  You rejoice with us in our celebrations and you walk with us in our sorrows.

Hear us now as we pray in the name of Christ Jesus, who taught us to pray…

Richard Bryant

Veterans Day Pastoral Prayer

Gracious God,

On a day set aside to remember a war to end all wars, we confess that our ideals were not as noble as we once believed. Our brokenness was too great to be healed by treaties, agreements, and standing armies. Forgive us for making death so efficient, killing so easy, and peace so hard.

We pray in hope. As veterans, survivors, and witnesses of war hope for a time when sacrifice is honored, death is no longer glorified, and the grieving are comforted; the church continues to wait for the coming kingdom of God.

We wait in hope. The world does not understand our hope. Those around us grow impatient. We too are mystified by the presence of hope in grief, love in tragedy, faith in sorrow, and kindness in an angry world.

We live in hope. Hope brings that which is formless and void into love and light. Hope creates in the midst of nothingness. As we walk through the shallow steps of sorrow and grief or the highs of joy and celebration; your hope gives us a perspective to understand where we are and where we’re going.

The expectation embodied in the hope of your arrival is not ours to contain but through the Holy Spirit, ours to share. O God, your hope challenges the intricacies of the status quo which we accept without question. Your hope reorients our lives, our vision, our hearing, and our perspective in ways we may barely notice but cannot deny.

Save, heal, and forgive us.

In hope we pray,
through Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen

Richard Bryant

Why Halloween Sucks

  1. Yes, I said it. This day, the rituals, the costumes, the traditions, the ideas, they all suck.
  2. Children dressing in costumes and asking for candy from strangers is a cultural norm that is well past its prime.  The Great Pumpkin is dead.  Let us move on.
  3. Halloween is really All Hallows Eve, a religious festival that precedes, All Saints Day. It’s a Christian thing with pagan origins (much like Christmas).  Now it’s been commercialized and fetishized into a celebration of fear, death, and early onset diabetes in children.
  4. Adults enjoy Halloween because it creates excuses for mid week alcohol abuse, stupid selfies to post on Facebook, and reasons to wear something made in a Chinese sweat shop now deemed “sexy” by the capitalists at Party City.
  5. Halloween sucks because it forces well meaning homeowners who participate in this absurd ritual to be nice to people who’ve spent no time preparing their costumes.  “Yes, don’t you all look nice?”  No, you don’t look lovely.  You look like you grabbed a flashlight; a pillow case, a sheet, and your mom’s eyeliner.  You look like crap.  You don’t deserve my candy.  You deserve my pity and scorn.
  6. If turning off your light meant you could avoid the whole thing, I would do it. You can’t avoid something that’s infected the whole culture.  We are forced to watch this madness.
  7. Who said putting a rotten gourd on your porch was attractive? Who ever thought this was a good idea?  No one in their right mind!
  8. Do we not have enough death in this world? Let’s pick a day where we make death fun and cute.  How dumb is that?
  9. It’s just a place holder for Christmas. Christmas doesn’t need place holders, especially one that’s so vapid.  Go straight to Christmas if you love it so much.
  10. Halloween sucks because all the witty people who know they’re witty get to foist their wittiness on the rest of humanity with their witty Halloween costumes and we’re asked to bow down to the altar of their wittiness for another year. If I wanted to worship wittiness, I would read Dorothy Parker.
  11. No one wants to live in a bi-polar trick-or-treat world of punishment and reward.  Life like that is a living hell.  Why experiment with such nightmarish stupidity for one day?  Because it’s cute and we’ve always done it, what will it hurt?  Everything, it hurts everything.
  12. Each time a door bell rings and a child says, “trick-or-treat”; Allah, Buddha, Jesus, and Krishna cry.  Angels lose their wings and humpback whales die.

Pastoral Prayer for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost

Gracious God,

It seems as if every week is “one of those weeks”.  There is little time to breathe, think, respond, or react amid the news of more chaos in our world.  We are not separated from the most pressing needs of humanity by our television screens or computer monitors.  In the past week, death came to our door. In this sanctuary we celebrated the lives of two beloved members of our community.  And yet, as we gathered in grief, hospitals in Puerto Rico still lack water and medicine.  Families are no closer to answers as to why their loved ones were murdered Las Vegas.  Firefighters watch the uncontrollable power of nature destroy lives and homes in California.

Suffering does not respect geography, wealth, or any boundary.  Safety is in scarce supply.  The world proceeds as normal but we know something is amiss.  Like a nausea that will not go away, we feel it.  We are the lucky ones because we can pretend everything is fine.  Our children are in school, our water is running, and our homes are not burned to the ground.  Our grief is manageable because our sense of community is strong.  It is not so easy for our neighbors.  It is for them, those whose ideas of normalcy and safety are forever shattered, we pray.  There but for the grace of God are we.

God, we come to you this morning in a spirit of dialogue.  Here us as we clear our minds and open our hearts to the thoughts beyond our words.  Search our souls as we find gratitude and thankfulness among our requests and petitions.  Place within us a desire that forms our prayers into tangible actions.  May our “amen” be the next step in creating a partnership with you to help answer our prayers instead of passively waiting on you to do all the work.  You need us as much as we need you.

Amen

Rev. Richard Lowell Bryant