Prayer to Begin the Day

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Blistery blustery beautiful day

Photograph “Blistery blustery beautiful day” by Dallis Day Richardson

God,
I want to see you
in each person I meet today
in each conversation I have with another
in each joy discovered
in each suffering shared.

I want to know
in my inmost being
the humanity of Jesus
whose constant prayer was
to be intimately connected with you
in the doing of justice
the enactment of peace
the power of sacrificial love.

I want to seek
friendship with the divine
more than right beliefs
dutiful virtues
or accepted behaviors
so that the movement of my soul
might be toward life in its fullness
life in touch with the Center
life contributing to newness
life in communion with others
life as holy gift
life as sheer wonder.

May I embody
what to me is true
what to me is beautiful
what to me is eternal –
a life whose wholeness is found in God,
a song that can only be sung
in concert with all of creation!

© Mark Lloyd Richardson, 2017

The Audacity of Divine Love

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FullSizeRender-2God who watches over our world,
who companions us along life’s way,
who breathes life into our lives,
we come to lift our praise-filled voices,
to utter our heart’s trembling cries,
to be still, and to know,
to be struck again by the audacity of divine love.

Jesus, Lamb of God,
the one in whom we see love most freely given,
the one who is Rabbi, healer, and friend,
this Jesus invites us to open our eyes
and look with compassion on the needs of the world –
needs for basic necessities of food and shelter,
adequate health care and clean water,
needs for spiritual nourishment and hope,
a cup of life-restoring water,
needs for community and solidarity,
bridging differences with other children of God.

Jesus, the Christ of love’s kingdom,
in whom broken places are mended
and neighbors find common cause healing the world,
this Jesus invites us to open our ears
and hear the summons to follow –
following the Master’s voice,
becoming people brimming with holy grace,
following to places where our comforts are put aside
by the one who disturbs the status quo,
following the call to reshape the world around us
by going where Christ’s love and footsteps show.

Spirit of love, holy wind, breath of life,
replenish our spirits and claim us anew.
Grant us the strength we need
to break down walls of injustice,
to speak up for those on the margins,
to stand with all who are suffering,
to follow all the way to the cross, no turning back.

Spirit of truth, holy word of life,
charge us with a mission of mercy,
a partnership of peace,
that we might more fully live
into your vision of wholeness & shalom.

May your Church,
Creator, Christ, and holy wind,
be faithful in service,
courageous in witness,
steady in fighting injustice,
loyal in our allegiance to the gospel,
savvy in confronting evil,
persistent in walking the path of peace,
and above all,
loving in our actions toward friend and foe.

Bless this earthly home with protection and care.
Bless your people with resurrection power.
Bless decision-makers with a compassionate wisdom,
journalists with the boldness of truth,
and citizens with boundless energy
in the pursuit of the common good.

We pray all of this in the name of Jesus,
who pronounces blessings upon anyone seeking
to align their lives with your kingdom of love. Amen.

Words (c) Mark Lloyd Richardson, 2017

Like a River Flowing

This coming Sunday we celebrate Peace Sunday at First United Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, CA. (http://www.fumcsb.org) We will sing this hymn as our opening hymn.

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WyomingWe sang this song at the close of worship this past Sunday using the familiar tune FINLANDIA. If you wish to use these lyrics in worship sometime, please let me know.

The peace of Christ is like a river flowing
from God’s own heart in healing streams of grace.
In all our comings and in all our goings,
God’s mercies lead us to a holy place.
Peace like a river flowing through our lives
reminds us what it means to be baptized.

This earthly home we share with one another
cannot withstand our hatreds and our fears.
So when we look and see a sister, brother,
we know Christ’s peace is also coming near.
May we now live into this hopeful dream,
a day made new in shared humanity.

This dream for peace seeks out the meek and lowly,
children of God by blessing and design,
created in the image…

View original post 31 more words

Sunlit Grace

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Red Bluff Church

Church on Red Bluff Road, south of Quesnel, British Columbia, Photo credit: blog Cruising Canuckistan

Bless the people
who labor for a better life
a better neighborhood
a better country
a better world,
who love family
create community
and give of themselves
so that seeds of hope
planted in places of despair
may be watered
and grow
and emerge as new life!

Bless the artists and poets
who see what might be
with a piercing clarity
of what now is.

Bless the journalists
who ask uncomfortable questions
and expose inconvenient mistruths
in their dogged pursuit of truth.

Bless the churches and mosques and synagogues
that dot the prairies, hills and valleys
of this precious landscape,
breathing a spirit of prayer and goodness
into the shared life of their communities.

Bless truck driver, crop picker, waiter and cook.
Bless coal miner, windmill farmer, and solar installer.
Bless single mother, newly married, aging couple, and widowed.
Bless teacher, student, leader, and follower.
Bless dreamer, shaper, thinker, and friend.

Bless the fraying edges of relationships,
the absences and separations,
the losses and heartaches,
the holy disruptions,
the sacred silences of peace.

Bless it all, Creation’s Lord.

Let the sunlight of your grace
shine upon poor and rich alike
exposing the treasures nearest each beating heart –
love of neighbor,
love of God.
Bless the whole world, we pray –
no exceptions.

 
Words Copyright (c) 2017, Mark Lloyd Richardson

Christ of the Lakeshore

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Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center, Lake Tahoe

Christ of the lakeshore,
come beside me this day
as my eyes soak in
the blueness spread before me
geese gliding effortlessly
inches above placid waters
slender pencils of pine
garbed in glorious green
a light blanket of snow
draped over neighboring peaks.

Christ of the lakeshore,
come beside me this day
as my ears take in
the songs of the birds
the lapping of the surf
the laughter and crying of a child
the soft whispering breeze.

Christ of the lakeshore,
come beside me this day
as my heart lets in
the pain of the world
of immigrant and refugee
the poor
the houseless
the lonely
the pushed aside
the wounded
the broken-hearted.

Christ of the lakeshore,
come beside me this day
that my praying
my dreaming
my hoping
my longing
may be in conversation
with yours.

Words (c) 2017 Mark Lloyd Richardson

In the Garden

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Through the trees large

Photo credit: Joel Olives, “Through the Trees,” Flickr.com Creative Commons, May 6, 2008.

And Jesus said, “Sit here, while I pray.”

All we must do is sit.
All we must do is recognize this as a time of prayer.
All we must do is stay awake to the present danger.
All we must do is not walk away from the suffering.
All we must do is listen in the stillness of the garden.

Some leaves rustle as a small animal stirs nearby.
A breeze disturbs the branches of an olive tree.
A fellow disciple quietly coughs in the cooling air.
Our own breathing is labored from the hasty night walk.
The fluted song of an owl floats down from the hillside.

All we must do is sit.

Words (c) 2017, Mark Lloyd Richardson

That We Might Be Healers Too

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Pali Coast

Pali Coast, Kauai

The world of your creating is beautiful, O God.

You are master sculptor of imposing mountain ranges,
rugged seascapes, luxuriant valleys, bubbling volcanoes.

You give thought to the birds of the air,
the cattle on the hill, the sea creatures and crawling things.

You orchestrate the sights and sounds of creation
to be a harmonious symphonic masterpiece
that all might know the abundance of your goodness.

There is no detail you leave unattended,
no part of this world beyond your concern.

And amazingly,
you are mindful of human beings –
made in your image,
made for relationship,
made of dust and water,
made of breath and hope,
made of dreams for becoming,
made to live at peace,
made to create,
made with a spark of divinity,
made with a twinkle in your eye,
made to hold and to heal,
made to trust,
made from a deep abiding love.

Our burdens begin
when we misplace our mindfulness of you.

Anxieties follow
when we forget who it is who holds our lives.

Troubles mount
when we boast that this is all meant for us.

Sorrows breed
when we ignore what you intend for our wholeness.

Heal us.
Shake us from our complacency.
Renew in us a vision of life’s harmony.
Restore in us a thriving hopefulness.
Stir up in us a righteous anger at injustice.
Prevent us from doing any more harm.
Call forth from us what is beautiful and true.
Lead us back to our sacredness.
Heal us, we pray, that we might be healers too.

Mark Lloyd Richardson
(c) 2017

The Buoyancy of Prayerful Action

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Camille, David, and Azael as Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus, in the Children’s Christmas Pageant at First UMC Santa Barbara, December 2016 (Photo credit: Dallis Day Richardson)

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,
for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus,
for he will save his people from their sins.” ~ Matthew 1:20-21

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God
to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin
engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.
The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said,
“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” … “Do not be afraid,
Mary, for you have found favor with God.” ~ Luke 1:26-28, 30

Fear must be released if we are to take the journey to Bethlehem.
Fear obstructs the dream of God for a world healed of divisions.
Fear confines us in boxes of propriety and principle.
Fear prevents us from daring to live fully for God.
Fear holds us back.

Joseph,
had he listened to his inner voice of moral rectitude,
rather than listening to the Spirit stir in his faith-filled dreaming,
might have chosen the lesser path,
the outwardly respectable path,
the easier, more bearable path.

Mary,
had she listened to her inner voice of level-headed reason,
rather than listening to the angel’s announcement of God’s favor,
might have chosen the uncomplicated path,
the less perplexing, more normal path,
the expected path for a young woman of her day.

Instead these two faithful servants,
through the buoyancy of prayerful action,
put aside their fears
and embraced the possibility that God was doing something new!

From their beautifully inspired trust in God’s goodness
the holy child was born
and God’s salvation story took on human flesh,
so that we might see the fullness of grace and truth!

This Christmas
let us cast aside the fear of difference and change
and embrace the self-giving love of Emmanuel –
God who is with all of us the world over,
whatever our nationality, race, religion or creed.

God is with us!
Do not be afraid!

Words (c) 2016 Mark Lloyd Richardson

An Advent Prayer for All God’s Children

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children-photo-by-susan-barrett-price-creative-commons

Photo by Susan Barrett Price on Flickr Creative Commons

God of all the seasons of life,
here we are in Advent –
a season of expectant watching and waiting –
and we are aware of the grand struggles
playing out on this earth …
… struggles for human dignity
… for freedom from oppression
… for sustainable living
… for responsible stewardship of this precious earth.

Holy and mighty God,
you speak of a day when we will know
that Christ is near, even at the door.
You warn us to keep awake
and not succumb to the sleepiness
of casual accumulation and comfort.
There is so much need around us
our eyes and hearts cannot contain it.
So many of the world’s children
whom you love
suffering
through no fault of their own.

In this holy season,
while the world dances transfixed
before the dazzling lights of commerce,
we are invited
to sit in wonder beneath a brilliant nighttime star,
to seek the true light that shines in the darkness,
to follow where the child of Bethlehem leads,
to listen anew to the Word made flesh.

Draw us up short, Lord,
from any pretensions of piety we may have,
and surprise us again by the miracle of hope,
that this child who is to be born
may remind us of all the world’s children
who carry within them your image
your life
your love
your light!
Amen.

(c) 2011 Mark Lloyd Richardson

Let us not grow weary

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flame

When our days feel precarious,
and our hearts are worn down
with the fatigue of worry,
the unsettledness of concern,
your promise, O God, remains with us.
Indeed it resides within us,
burning at the center of our beings,
a flame of hope that will not be extinguished.

You are always leading us into the new.
You are continually remaking us
into a people formed in your love.
You invite us each morning to yield our hearts
to the work of justice, peace, and reconciliation.
In all times, you call forth our better angels.

Give us, we pray, the grace we need for this day
as we rise to meet the challenges before us.
May we live today from our deepest humanity,
granting to a neighbor the gift of humble listening,
extending to a stranger a smile of recognition,
offering to the other a gesture of welcome,
being gentle with ourselves and those near to us.

The little things are the big things in your realm.
The least are not forgotten,
the last become first,
the lost are surely found.
So help us believe that even the mustard seed
of our small faith makes a difference.
Let us not grow weary in doing good.
Let us rise to meet this day knowing
that your promise remains with us and within us,
indeed it burns with a hope that will not go out.

In your holy love we pray. Amen.

(c) 2016 Mark Lloyd Richardson