The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama is a place where I found this peace sign. Our prayers this month will focus on peace in our lives, our homes, our communities and in our world.
Park and Pray at 1:11 pm
Holy One, thank you for “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” I pray that I may have an appreciation of the peace that you offer me. Bless me with an awareness of your peace so that I may receive it and share it with others. Guard my heart and my mind in Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Where are you? Why are you here? What are you serving? Who do you serve? How? What are you willing to give as ransom? Will you give your time, talents, treasures or what else? Do nothing. Simply be present. Can you be a non anxious presence?
Let Us Park and Pray st 1:11 pm
God, this Holy Week many are tempted to do a lot to prepare for the Easter celebration with family and friends. We might search for the perfect hat, the most beautiful suit and wear the most attractive hairstyle. In the midst of our prepation we might trip over the alabaster bottle and waste it’s precious oils. We may forget to sit at your table, eat, drink and recall the Last Supper. We might step on broken nails and trip on splinters from a worn out cross. We will miss whatever you have in store for us. Almighty God help us to open our eyes, ears, hearts and hands to receive you and what you prepare to serve us daily. Thank you for your life gift, a ransom for us. Please accept our meager offering of faith and stillness. In your name. Amen.
Recently, I was inspired with hope by what I saw and experienced. I was the guest pastor at the St. Peter’s Church (Iglesia de San Pedro) in Samana, Dominican Republic, the historical church home for the descendants of enslaved and free African-Americans who left the United States on or after 1824. My sermon, based on the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5 verses 14-16 focused on this theme, “You are the light of the world!” (“Eres La Luz Del Mundo!”), a powerful message.
When I arrived early at the church before worship something caught my attention. It was before people arrived and drenched by the torrential rain. I paused at the entrance of the church. My eyes were immediately drawn to a woman dressed in white and situated on her knees, praying, as if she was begging. I saw her forehead firmly pressed against one of the steps leading to the altar. She laid before the cross as a beacon of light illuminating rays of hope, mercy, justice, compassion and more. I imagined one beam of light piercing through doors. Doors that separate children from their parents. Closed doors that separate us from discovering truth and bearing witness. Tsunamis, devastation, and other challenges. I imagined she carried a heavy load, a burdensome bushel filled with painful memories. She could not bear to stand with such a weight of injustices, a culmination of pain and insurmountable suffering. The light within her shined through her and called me and others to pause as we entered the sanctuary. She lifted her head and her knees. Her face shined like a newly minted coin. Light shined in her face and faces throughout the church beamed with expectations. The Glory of God shined affirming the presence of the Holy One, Source of Light.
Let us PrayMerciful God, Thank you that we can bring our pain, sorrow, doubts, fears, frustrations, disgrace, joys and triumphs to you. We leave our concerns on your thrown of grace. We look to you Almighty and Powerful God to empower us with wisdom and might to overcome the storms in our lives. We pray knowing that your blessed assurance gives us hope and renews our strength. Your loving kindness equips us to be your hands, heart and feet throughout this world. Shine your Light on us and in us so we may be a light in the spiritually dark places in our world. Bless us with your Light as we do the challenging work you have called us to do. We pray on bended knees, with outstretched hands, standing, sitting or simply in the stillness of our being. Loving God, hear our prayers. In our Savior’s Name. Amen.
Dear God, thank you for blessing us with Aretha Franklin. Her gifted voice and powerful spirit continue to edify your name. Your teachings about love, respect, righteousness and more are woven in her songs. Her music represents a tapestry of life. Holy One, thank you for inspiring and equipping Aretha with a powerful voice, an instrument of love, peace, and healing. There’s no sitting still when Aretha, the Queen of Soul’s voice is heard. Her spirit filled voice propels us to rise, hold our heads high, reach beyond the sky. We remember her manner of praise in her life and song as an extravagant and awesome gift!
Thank you Almighty God for Aretha, who experienced your holy presence early and throughout her life. Her music reflected the times in which we live. Times when we shed tears and laughed with her! Aretha, the Queen of Soul, often grounded us in your Supreme Love, a Divine Love. Aretha’s life and her songs are also reflections of our joys and sorrows. Queen Aretha reminded us in her life and in her passing that still waters run deep. In the midst of troubled waters, there is hope. You are One Lord of all who is the Bridge, the Way Maker, the everlasting Savior who gives us Life, Breath, Pulse, and Passion. Aretha means Beauty; Virtuous; and Excellent! She lived her life as the Queen of Soul, who ministered to many souls. Aretha, the Queen of Heart whose music still tugs on our heartstrings. Aretha, gone but never forgotten.
Eternal God, receive her into your everlasting peace. In our Savior’s name. Amen.
During the 1980’s I had the esteemed privilege to care for former Prisoners Of War or POWs while employed as a Nurse Practitioner at the VA Medical Center. I admired those POWs who represented less than 10 percent of my panel of 900 veterans. During my encounters with them I saw evidence of their bravery, humility, tolerance and gratitude. I listened as they shared their war stories. I examined their battle scars and assessed their intrinsic vulnerabilities. I found in them the highest form of resilience and perseverance. As we honor Senator John McCain, a former POW, whose life, sacrifices, contributions and legacy remind me of the former POWs in my care. McCain approached his terminal illness and poor prognosis like his military battles. Love for his family, friends, country and service dictated the course of his life. Like the former POWs in my care, John McCain charged into the battlefield of life each day to fulfill a greater mission, chart a more stable course, defend our freedoms and renew our hopes. He will be missed.
Although we are still recovering from the loss of Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, a mighty pillar, powerful spirit and a compelling witness! I imagine her greeting John with an inspirational song of praise and prayer profound enough to rock the heavens. Imagine hearing them sing this prayer. Imagine singing it with them in spirit.
“The moment I wake up. Before I put on my makeup I say a little prayer for you.”.
Imagine singing this prayer and praying for one another.
“I Say A Little Prayer”
The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you
While combing my hair now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer for you
Forever and ever, you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever and ever, we never will part
Oh, how I love you
Together, forever, that’s how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me
I run for the bus, dear
While riding I think of us, dear
I say a little prayer for you
At work I just take time
And all through my coffee break time
I say a little prayer for you
God, it’s me, I need you. Please meet me. I’ll show up at 1:11 pm. by the tree.
A Prayer at 1:11 pm
In the morning when I rise I hear the birds sing, I see sunshine. I feel the dawn of a new day. Is it you O God?
Show your presence in the midst of today’s news. Gracious God where are you when leaders attempt to demean and demoralize your people?
Merciful God make your presence known when displaced children cry for their mother whose trauma is disorienting and unbearable. Almighty God show up in the bureaucratic swamp and rescue those who live in violent prone areas. Set the captives free, release the victims of mass incarceration.
Holy One, grant justice and free the spirit of natives and slave descendants who are still bound to a master. Creator God release new seeds, rain down cleansing water and a fresh anointing of your oil and daily bread. Fill us with your presence in every step, every space, every breath and every heart beat. Loving God, give us a new song that leaves a lasting impression.
May we be like trees, they stand firm against the winds and trying times. O God, settle us down so we may experience your loving presence. Lord hear our prayers.
We Glorify you and we pray without ceasing in our Savior’s Name. Amen