Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Prayers of the People (March 14)

Over the past two months,  I have had the honor of being liturgist in my church for several Sundays. As part of that, I have offered the Prayers of the People--each of which I have written trying to encompass the issues of that day. I am offering these here as a way to share these prayers with a larger audience.


Prayers of the People


Holy God—it’s been a long year.


A year ago we entered into this time that feels like an exile without knowing where it would lead and when it would end.


The words of the Psalmist[i]  speak to us today, as they spoke to the captive Israelites centuries ago. 


By the rivers of Babylon—
    there we sat down and there we wept
    when we remembered Zion.


Surely there have been times during this year when we have felt like weeping. 


We miss the fellowship of all our family and friends—we miss seeing loved ones. We miss coming to church. We miss singing. We miss hugs. We miss the thoughtless ways in which we lived our daily lives.


But even as we experience what seems to be such a difficult time, you call to us.


You call us to remember the world—the many places where life is so much harder that what we experience. We forget that you reign over all and care for all—people who are marginalized, people who are persecuted, people who are abandoned, people who experience deep want.


You call us to live is this world—to be the face of God to all.

 Help us to widen our vision to be world-inclusive.


You call us to remember this country in which we live—this country so blessed, so filled with promise. Yet experiencing such conflicts that pull us apart.  Those with whom we do not agree become enemies—contrary to your loving word and direction.

 We sometimes would rather say nothing at all than have to engage in conversation with those with whom we disagree. 

But, Christ’s example is that even in silence we still must convey the love of God to all.


We pray for the  leaders of this country – that they will lead with compassion. That they will turn attention to those in deep need. That they will be guided by higher principles than greed, power, and force.


We pray for our church. You have made it possible for us to remain connect even though circumstance has kept us apart. We are grateful for technology. Even though it can seem a poor substitute for seeing each other face to face, we are grateful to be able to reach out. We continue as a church, as a congregation who cares about each other, as a congregation that seeks to be Christ-like to all those in need, to our friends and to neighbors whether next door or in the city and in the square.


We pray for the leaders of our church. We are grateful for all those persons who comprise the staff of Market Square Presbyterian Church—Who have ministered for weeks, day in and day out.  Who inspire us by preaching God’s word; Who uplift us with glorious music; Who serve in the church daily attending to the many needs—taking care of everyday business, and keeping us connected by radio, by computer, by telephone. And for those who minister daily to the people who are on the street.


May this be our prayer—that as you call us to be the light in world, we shine. That we do NOT shrink from the call, that we do not fail to tend the light, and that we daily seek to share the light of Christ with all we meet.



[i] Psalm 137

Saturday, January 16, 2021


*(For those of you who know Latin, you know that means—“through my fault” (sometimes translated “sin”). 


As I am growing older (and this past year has reminded me FORCEFULLY that I am), I find myself reflecting. I am staying away from the rocking chair…you know, the image of the old granny sitting in her rocking chair tsk tsk tsking away at the ills of the world. With a few new creaks and groans in my body, I suddenly recall my own youthful impatience when I was younger witnessing such in old people.


Herewith three exemplary stories.


MEA CULPA: We were on a tour that included a stop in St. Petersburg. As with any group tour, we were transported from one site to another by bus. Our tour guide had planned a repertoire on steroids—packed full and quite vigorous. And many in the group were somewhat…ahem…older than my husband and me.  At one point, we needed to hurry back to the bus, get on board and drive to the next stop. As one older woman climbed the few steps on to the bus, she slipped and fell squarely on both knees. She was obviously in pain, and several people rushed to help her. She was angrily annoyed and shooed them away while she painfully and slowly got up.  


For whatever reasons, that incident really annoyed me, and while I said nothing aloud (I may have mumbled under my breath “oh, come on”), I was dismayed how that incident set the whole tour group at a disadvantage. Delayed departure, delayed arrival, problems with the timed entry to the next stop…


Flash forward some 15 years. Now, I am not on a tour, but karma (she of kindly disposition) showed me what a stumble and then fall can be.  I was walking our dog around the block when I caught my shoe on a 1 inch difference in two sidewalk sections, and tumbled face forward on to the sidewalk. A neighbor who was doing yard work saw me—and he rushed over. Should he call an ambulance? NO. Should he call my husband? NO. Should he drive me the half-block to my house? NO. Well, he asked what could he do. I said—give me a cloth to stop the bleeding. He kindly did…and I walked the rest of the way home. I had a lovely scraped forehead, several facial cuts but no broken bones.


Mea culpa—where was my fault? Certainly not in falling. The fault was my earlier reaction of impatience and lack of caring on that tour. 


MEA CULPA—my father and mother first moved to a retirement village when they were in their 60s. With my mother’s death my father was alone. He remarried and eventually he and my step-mother moved into assisted living. When my step-mother needed nursing care, my father then moved into a single room. I tried to visit him once a week, and frequently found that my time was consumed by his demands:  get this, sew that, fix this, OH and check my computer. One day, when I visited him he indicated he couldn’t get into his computer because someone had called and said there was a particular problem and he needed to click on….I need go no further. He fell for it.  I am NO computer whiz, but for some reason, I wondered if I went back to an earlier restore point if that wouldn’t “fix” things. Tried it…and it worked. And each time I saw my dad after that, I warned him—no more clicking on things or following the direction of charlatans on the phone.


Flash forward 5 years. Because of those experiences with my dad, I religiously avoid scams—either telephone based or computer messages. Until…I received an email purportedly from my pastor. His note said, “you might be interested in this” and there was a hyper-link. AND I fell for it. The pastor and I had been working on a church issue, and I had received an earlier email from him on the problem subject, and without thinking assumed this link related to that. Of course, it didn’t. PANIC. And remorse.


Mea Culpa—where was my fault? Well, partly on being duped. But more for my impatience with my father and not recognizing how easy it is to be duped by something seemingly so innocent.


MEA CULPA—when my father and step-mother first moved into their assisted living area, they had a double bed but had no sheets. I had gotten them some news sheets, but one day my father called and said I needed to take them back…they were too slippery. Slippery?  Yes, he said—your step mother keeps falling out of bed. 


Oh, come on, I thought—how can she fall out of bed! Anyway, I took the sheets. The bed issue was part its own saga—first, they had moved their queen bed from their cottage, then got rid of it. They got a double bed, but with the sheets and the falling got rid of it. Finally, they ended up with two single beds not long before my step-mother moved into nursing care.


Fast forward … again.  I have lately begun experiencing dizziness—sort of a “the deck is rocking and rolling on this ship” feeling. I haven’t fallen out of bed. But I do now understand the disorientation and near-vertigo that can accompany aging.


No need to ask mea culpa—where was my fault? You can identify it—my impatience and lack of understanding that the experiences I have relayed can be part of the aging process. And I am being more intentional in watching my step where I go.


I heard a doctor who was giving a talk on aging say, “ when people get older they don’t change (their personality)—the patina just wears thin.”  I have thought of that wisdom a great deal. We are what we are—and growing older doesn’t turn us into something else suddenly.  


The instances I have relayed are not the only way I am. So, while I can, I burnish the patina a little bit—cultivate an attitude of gratitude; say thank you to every kindly gesture; thank people who are doing small tasks JUST for doing that task; be kind…be kind…be kind—I trust mea culpa will be forgiven.