LITURGY - POEMS/PRAYERS/REFLECTIONS

GOD IS LOVE

Love Cosmos

GOD IS LOVE

Stop

Say it again

GOD

IS 

LOVE

Forgive your familiarity

Crack the cliche open

Attend to the wonder

The size of it

Hear the words

And listen

Listen 

Deep down

Be awestruck

The marvellous mystery

The spectacular magnificence

The Cinematic imaginings

Of the Creator and Sustainer

Of the Cosmos 

Cramming it

Every minuscule quark

With astronomical grace.

 

The words of wonder 

Became flesh…

 

GOD IS LOVE

We love

Because 

God first loved us

Love is a force

That draws in  

The spinning broken pieces 

Of our world

Our relationships

And ourselves

Love is always mending

Love is never ending

Love is ever sending

The loved 

To love

GOD IS LOVE

So love.


THE WARM SWEET BREATH OF LOVE - A Prayer

McCrea Belfast from Cavehill

Photo: Philip McCrea - Belfast, Sunday just before sunrise from Cave Hill 

 

A prayer I prayed in Fitzroy just before the 4 Corners Festival 2021 where the theme of the Festival was Breathe...

 

Lord, when we think of our city and our world

Over these last 10 months

We are aware that we have had the breath knocked out of us

Not only by Covid

But by sectarianism, ever with us

And racist attacks 

Like the one in the Belfast Multi Cultural Centre building

That uses to be a church

Donegal Pass Presbyterian met in that building

And some of us worshiped there

A racist hate crime

Knocking the breath out of people’s lives

And Domestic abuse Lord, 

Sometimes literally knocking the breath out of us

Businesses on the brink Lord

In these strange times, knocking the breath out of us

Brexit’s uncertainty, knocking the breath out of us

And the pressures in hospitals and schools

Working on our frontlines

Breathless, weary

And Lord there has been illness, grief, isolation

It is not only the physical that we are feeling

But there is pressure 

On our mental, emotional and spiritual lives

Like the breath is being knocked out of us

And so we pray for our city

Our world 

And our own lives

That you would breathe

Your warm sweet breath of love

And comfort, strength and resilience.

 

As we breath in Lord

May we breath in

Your warm sweet breath of love *

 

And Lord we are aware this morning

That we have a city and a world

That needs that warm sweet breath of love

Breathed upon it

Lord “may we be your breath

Moving over the face of the deep

May we be a particle of your light

Glowing over the hills of morning” **

May we be your resource

To breath out

The warm sweet breath of love

And comfort and strength and resilience

To all of those that we may meet

Though that is less likely in lockdown days

But to those we intentionally reach out to

In social media, or my phone or by letter

Or maybe even just prayer at a distance.

 

As we breath in Lord

May we breath in

Your warm sweet breath of love

As we breathe out Lord

May we breathe your warm sweet breath of love

Across our city… and our world.

Amen

 

* The Warm Sweet Breath Of Love is a song by Horslips

** These lines are from Bruce Cockburn's song The Hills Of Morning


WALKING WITH JESUS THROUGH BELFAST

Walking in wards

(prayers I used in Fitzroy on January 24, 2021, inspired by Richard Carter's The City Is My Monastery and the lectionary text "follow me...")

 

Lord I want to walk with you through my city

I want to walk along the pavements

Down University Street onto the Ormeau Road

Weaving through people of different faiths and political persuasions 

People of many nations, colours, cultures

To smell fish and chips, see carpet stores

And kids spilling out of An Droichead

Running across the road to Mornington

Past cafes and bars and law courts and banks to Victoria Square

 

Lord I want to walk with you

As you stop to give dignity to the man sleeping in the doorway

Pray healing on the woman in the woman’s refuge

As you share your own story with the refugee running from dangers at home

 

Lord I want to walk with you

As you pray for the business woman struggling to keep going through lockdown

As you feel deep sadness for the rich man off to work for what isn’t gaining him his soul

 

Lord I want to walk with you 

As you make a special visit to our hospitals

As you put your hand on the shoulders of doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and cleaning staff alike

To breathe resilience, stamina and compassion into their weariness

As you sit by the bedside of those who are ill or dying

Being with them when their loved ones cannot

As you pray for those whose treatment is on hold in order to deal with the crisis with this pandemic

 

Lord I want to walk with you in my city 

As I do 

Caress my soul

With your compassion and love

Be the rock and refuge of the Psalms at my side

Lord I want to walk with you in my city

And as I do 

Collide with my soul

Turning around my attitudes, values, ambitions, decisions and daily intentions

 

Lord I want to walk with you in my city

To find myself redeemed and transformed

That I might do what Jesus would do

In my city.

 

Amen

 

why not take a walk through Belfast at this year's 4 Corners Festival... The Wonderful Wander is not cancelled... we are locked down but rocked up! Book for The Wonderful Wander and other events, including one with Richard Carter at: https://4cornersfestival.com


A PRAYER FOR AMERICA (on Inauguration Day)

America

America

Today I pray for you

Grace and imagination

 

Take a moment… or more

To take a deep breath

In

To calm

The body

The heart

The soul

Breathe in 

To slow down the political adrenaline

That has been raging

Through veins of hyped up opinions

Breathe in

To stand still and look around

To gain perspective

Of self

Of neighbour 

Of nation

Breathe in

Breathe in the grace of God

Grace 

That forgives

That resets relationships

That draws in fraternity

That restores peace.

 

America

Today I pray for you

Grace and imagination

 

Take a moment… or more

To take a deep breath

Out

Across streets and alleyways

Mountains and deserts

Coastlines and prairies

Breathe out

A vision for this gift of democracy

Inspiration to shape the good of all

Compassion for the least of these

Breathe out

A role model of healing for the world

A care for the stewardship of planet earth

A future of well being for the cosmos

Breathe out

Breathe out the imagination of God

Imagination

That orders justice

That shapes community

That creates shalom

 

America

Today I pray for you 

(and for us all)

Grace and imagination

Breathe in

Breathe out


HERE COMES THE NEW YEAR (NOT ON ONE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT)

Here Comes 2021

Here comes the New Year

Not on one stroke of midnight

As in any other year

Because 

Last year was not any other year

Nor the year to come

These are two years blurring into one

But they will

Please God

Eventually split someday

And 

That split is where to concentrate our new

 

Instead of one single moment

We are in a year between years

Between the old and the new

A year of frustration

Head hurt physical distance

Heart hurt social restriction

Soul hurt isolation

 

But in this anxious blur

We have time to see again

To surmise

The possibility of great correction

The potential of the new in New Year

The hope of newer ahead

Than the older back there

Newer in how we see each other

Newer in how we see the world

And our delicate, precious and unique place in it.

 

Here comes the New Year

Let us hope in “all things new”.


PRAYERS FOR OUR CARE FOR CREATION - Rhea Marshall (Fitzroy 15.11.2020)

Care For Creation

These are the prayers from the Fitzroy Sunday Service (on-line) on November 15, 2020, by Rhea Marshall.

 

Our prayers today our focused on the environment.

Please join me in prayers of thanksgiving, repentance and intercession for climate justice.

We start with a moment of thankfulness

In these challenging months,  for the comfort, beauty and joy, so many of us experience in your creation. We thank you God

For our favourite outdoor places, for the beauty of Autumn and fun exploring outdoors. We thank you God.

For how the earth sustains us, providing all that we need: warmth, food and shelter. We thank you God.

Lord you have taught us that repentance is about changing, turning and acting in new ways.  

We can feel overwhelmed when faced with Climate Crisis: [grief at what has been lost, sorrow for the harm we cause, and fear for the future]1.  When we have chosen to run from our feelings: Forgive us Lord.

When we have failed to respond to global warming, species decline, plastic and pollution, climate inequality and poverty, Forgive us Lord.

When we have consumed more than we have put back; when we have been caught up in economic systems and lifestyles which cause destruction; when we have been blind to [privileges gained through the exploitation of others]2 and the Earth: Forgive us Lord

When we have forgotten that we are just a tiny part of creation, and that caring for creation is the same as caring for each other, and caring for ourselves, Forgive us Lord.

We pray for climate justice.

We ask for the courage to change: to be people who strive for [peace over profit, activity over complacency and a greater good over today’s convenience.]3  Lord help us.

We ask for guidance in how we, individually and as a faith community, can bring about climate justice.  In considering our time and resources, our prayers and interactions, and the impact of all our actions. Lord help us. 

We pray for the many conservationists, environmental groups and individuals who work to protect our world.  May we learn from their dedication and experience.  May we come alongside them and support their work where we can.  Lord help us.

We pray for Stormont, where the climate change bill is currently being considered. We pray for the Northern Ireland executive and civil servants.   Give them courage and stamina, to lead us through the monumental cultural and behavioural changes required.  We pray for wisdom in supporting and challenging our governments in tackling the climate emergency.  Lord help us.  

We ask that you unite us all, individuals, our church community, our wider community and our government, in fighting to reduce carbon emissions, consumption levels and inequality. Lord help us.

Lord, remind us of [our love for this beautiful planet that feeds nourishes and sustains us.  Strengthen our love for the whole of humanity in all corners of the world.

Strengthen our desire to protect all of this, for ourselves, for all living beings and for generations to come.]4 In Jesus’s name we pray.  Amen.

 

  1. Ref Melanie Nazareth, p 254 “Time to Act” A resource book by the Christians in Extinction Rebellion spck 2020
  2. Ref Melanie Nazareth, p 256 “Time to Act” 
  3. Ref Fran Pratt, p272 “Time to Act” 
  4. Ref Solemn Intention Statement, Extinction Rebellion.

CONTENTED OF DEEP SOUL - STOCKI'S BEATITUDES

Stocki McCrea shot

photo: Philip McCrea

 

I was preaching on Jesus Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). Much as I thinking that the greek word makarios is best translated blessed, blessed has lost a little bit of its pointed meaning. I am very unhappy with translations of the Beatitudes that translate it as happy. As I was preaching and seeking to unpack the text I started seeking my own translation and came up with "contented of deep soul". After I preached I jotted down my own Beatitudes based on many Biblical idea that I have preached on this past year. 

 

Contented of deep soul are those who know their place in God’s order of things

Contented of deep soul are those who look in the mirror and know that they are loved just as they are

Contented of deep soul are those who do not compare themselves with anybody else

Contented of deep soul are those who do not need to reach for the advertisers temptations to find satisfaction in the buying of things

Contented of deep soul are those who go to sleep knowing that they are forgiven for all their quirks, foibles and bad decisions

Contented of deep soul are those who forgive those who have hurt them because then they can no longer be hurt by the hurt

Contented of deep soul are who have discovered the gifts God has given them and have gifted them to the world

Contented of deep soul are those who love their neighbour with the the same grace that God loves them

Contented of deep soul who love their enemies and know the holiness of peacemaking

Contented of deep soul are those who are content with their place in God’s order of things


GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY - A SHORT REFLECTION

Get Out Of Your Own Way

 

I was preaching on Psalm 46… The Friday before, my friend Jim Deeds led us in prayer at a 4 Corners Festival planning meeting… Jim used a Richard Rohr quote about getting out of the way… Ah, thought I… that’s maybe where Bono get’s the line Get Out Of Your Own Way… Bono is a big reader of Rohr… my sermon took a meditative shift…  

 

Be still and know that I am God

- Psalm 46: 10 (NIV)

 

Stop striving and know that I am God;

- Psalm 46: 10 (NASB)

 

Healthy religion is always about love. All we can do is get out of the way. 

- Richard Rohr

 

The slaves are lookin' for someone to lead them

The master's lookin' for someone to need him

The promised land is there for those who need it most

And Lincoln's ghost said:

Get out of your own way

- U2

 

 

Get out of your own way

Moses had to do it when he made feeble excuses at the burning bush

 

Get out of your own way

His brothers had to do it when little David arrived to fight Goliath with only a sling 

 

Get out of your own way

Jonah had to do it when sectarianism prevented him fulfilling his calling 

 

Get out of your own way

David had to do it when he acknowledged his transgressions

 

Get out of your own way

Isaiah had to do it when he came face to face with a holy God

 

Get out of your own way

Peter had to do it when Mary told him tall tales about an empty tomb

 

Get out of your own way

Thomas had to do it when he doubted

 

Get out of your own way

Paul had to do it, all wrapped up in his legalism, on the Damascus Road

 

Get out of your own way

Where do I have to do it?

 

Get out of your own way

 

Stop striving

 

Be still… and know that I am God


THE JACOB AT BETHEL PRAYER - My Prayers in Fitzroy Service 19.7.2020

Cross in Fitz

(This is the prayer that I used in the Fitzroy Service on July 19, 2020... It comes out of a sermon on Jacob and God meeting him in that dream at Bethel... you can watch the short service HERE)

 

God, we thank you for your grace

For your reaching down from heaven

To touch our ordinary lives

In unexpected places

When we might feel anxious

Vulnerable

Disorientated

Wondering what is next

God we thank you for your presence

As Paul prayed for the Ephesians

May the eyes of ours hearts be enlightened 

In order that we may know the hope to which he has called us

The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 

And his incomparably great power for us who believe. 

May we know the power that is the same as the mighty strength 

He exerted when he raised Christ from the dead 

And seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms

God open the eyes of our hearts

To see you beside us

Wherever we are

Your grace seeing us

Loving us

Your encouragement energising us

To commitment 

To a partnership

That will see your promises of a new Kingdom come

And your will being done on earth as it is in heaven

God we take hold of your promise

To stick with us until you’ve done everything you promised

May we sense that presence, grace and promise 

We offer ourselves to it

In Jesus name

AMEN


OFFERING THE SOIL OF OUR SOULS TO GOD - FITZROY PRAYER 12.7.2020

Treasure-in-your-Heart

This is my prayer in Fitzroy on July 12th 2020. I had just preached on Jesus story of the sower and the seed and attempted to sow "where you treasure is your heart will be also" into the soil of our souls (watch the service HERE).

 

GOD

We live in vulnerable times

Fragile times

We have been broken by the Coronavirus Pandemic

We have grieved

We have been anxious about family

We have worried about our jobs

We have been found confinement harrowing

We have been under pressure mentally

Lord, the opening back up is testing us too

We are anxious about second spikes

We are wary of mixing in public

And we are almost angry at those who are not wary

We are fearful that a return of the virus will have more devastating economic effect than the first

We are concerned at the speed of the opening.

 

Lord we are in vulnerable times

We are thankful Lord that the vulnerability

Has made us more open to you

We have prayed more Lord

We have sought to trust more

We have read your Bible more in keeping with its context

Lord you have made us ponder our world

You have forced us to rethink our lives

You have given us an unexpected space

To reflect on how we are living

You have scattered the word of your wisdom across our souls to teach us, rebuke us, correct us and training us in righteousness.

 

Lord we offer the soil of our souls

May it not be hard

May it not be shallow

May it not choke the light with worry and wealth

May we work its fertility.

 

Lord we offer ourselves

By your spirit search us in these opening up days

That we might ask with total honesty

In what we rush and clammer for immediately

Where our treasure is

Because there you tell us 

Is our heart.

 

So Lord, we ask that you would collide and caress

Your word and these pandemic days

That the seed of your word

Would overcome the thorns of our world

To germinate

And grow

And harvest

In our lives 

And therefore in the lives of those around us

In Jesus name we pray

Amen