LITURGY - POEMS/PRAYERS/REFLECTIONS

SHIFT OUR FOCUS

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LORD SHIFT OUR FOCUS

From our own efforts to gather more

To the birds who have enough

From our own attempts to look good

To the roses in their springtime magnificence

 

LORD SHIFT OUR FOCUS

From the feeble efforts to change who we are

To surrender intoto what God’s grace longs to make us

From waiting until we are good enough for God

To having his strength made perfect in our weakness

 

LORD SHIFT OUR FOCUS

From the selfishness of the thrill of a moment

To the usefulness of things that last forever

From the slavery of the things that we see

To the freedom of living in the blessings unseen

 

LORD SHIFT OUR FOCUS

From the love we are craving to get

To the service we are zealous to give

From a holiness that feeds our self righteousness

To a Godliness that feeds the world

LORD SHIFT OUR FOCUS


MY PRAYERS FOR THE CHURCH AT PAUL LUTTON'S ORDINATION...

Paul's Ordination

This is my prayer at Paul Lutton's ordination and installation in St John's, Newtownbreda on January 26th 2024... Many of you kindly said how helpful it was so I thought I'd post

 

Loving God

We pray for your church tonight

Your Church across the world

Your Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Your Newtownbreda (St John’s) 

 

We pray for ministers

For passion in their preaching

Wisdom in their teaching

For cultural discernment

For tender compassion

For clarity of vision

For the Holy Spirit’s inspiration

For the humility of Jesus 

Who was the God of the manger, the donkey, the towel and the cross

 

We pray for elders

To play their role

With shepherd hearts

That they will watch over the flock with sensitivity and care

That Christlike service will be their prayerful longing and testimony

To the church and the world

 

Tonight Lord

We pray for Paul and Emma and Esther and Daniel particularly

Bind them tighter together as Paul’s vocation shifts and starts afresh

 

May Paul find his place here in Newtownbreda

Working and honing the wonderful gifts that you have given him

May he not be forced up blind alleys for traditions sake

But be set free to lead imaginatively and courageously in the NOW

Leading this community of faith into the future

Lord may this congregation let Lutton be Lutton

We pray for Emma and Esther and Daniel

They are not called, or installed tonight

Yet they will be crucial to Paul’s ministry

May they be allowed to find their place in this body of believers

Finding and using their own special gifts and personalities

But never being forced to find gifts they haven’t been given

Or do things that would corner or burden their own particular discipleship

 

God, bind this little family in your tenderest care

Wrap them in resilience and courage and love

That from that core they would be a blessing to this church

And neighbourhood and city.

 

Lord tonight is a wonderful, 

A celebratory night for this congregation

But tomorrow and the years down the road 

Are where Paul will need that smile, 

That clap on the back 

And that sense of being cherished, valued and supported

May the elders and congregation of Newtownbreda actively continue to do that from this night forward.

 

And Lord, may all of us remember our calling to follow you and to do that in the community of Church.

Send us humbly to follow you wherever we worship and serve…

In Jesus name

Amen 


FITZROY PRAYERS ON CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY

Christ The King Sunday

(Prayer prayed in Fitzroy on Christ The King Sunday, November 26, 2023)

 

God

On Christ The King Sunday

We worship Jesus as our King

We remember those words 

From his own prayer

“Thy Kingdom come

Thy will be done

On earth

As it is in heaven”.

 

So God, we pray for Christ The King’s reign

His kingdom and will

 

In our parliaments

In our cabinet offices

In our war rooms

In our refugee camps

And hostage prisons

 

In our cities

Our towns

Our villages

On our streets

Up our alleyways

Across our housing estates

Along our Avenues

And into our cul-de-sacs

 

In our factories

In our shopping malls

In our school

And Universities

Our call Centres

 

In our gyms

Our golf clubs

Our sports pitches

And hotels and bars

 

In our homes

In our families

Our Residential homes

Our homeless shelters

In our Churches 

 

God, we long for Christ The King’s will

Interrupting

Transforming

Shining light

Holding out hope

 

So, King Jesus show us a vision

Of how the world looks to you

And how it might look here and now

Lift us off our knees

To follow you 

In bringing it in.

 

In Christ the King’s name

Amen.


DON't BEAT YOURSELF UP... TURN UP AND...

Don't...

This was Chris Blake's reflection at Fitzroy's Passion Worship event on Sunday November 19th 2023... I thought it needed shared... Thank you Chris for the permission...

 

He is here - where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name

• His love is far bigger than we can imagine - we can’t escape it, as that last

song said in our highs and in our lows he is there loving us

• He is further beyond our understanding than we can dream

• Before you were conceived he knew you and loved you

Lord we worship you

But sometimes we just can’t:

And It’s OK when you can’t respond.

It’s Ok when you can’t understand.

It’s OK even when you can’t believe.

Don’t beat yourself up

Just turn up

Tell God you can’t

Allow Him to answer

And maybe worship will come

At the darkest time in my life when my first wife died I could do none of

those things and I had the most extraordinary experience of my faith life.

I was held - I knew “The peace that passes all understanding” - it was way

beyond understanding - I was so angry at God…

In the depth of your pain, He is seeking you out and His patience and

perseverance won’t let you go

Don’t beat yourself up

Just turn up

Tell God you can’t

Allow Him to answer

And maybe worship will comeAt times it isn’t that dramatic:

Life is just very busy

Life is just very ordinary

Worship, well worship just gets left out - there’s no time, no energy

He is seeking you out and His patience and perseverance won’t let you go

Don’t beat yourself up

Just turn up

Tell God you can’t

Allow Him to answer

And maybe worship will come

Church is boring, the band’s not great, I can’t sing those songs and the

congregation

Are all a bit weird

where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name - People who share in His

forgiveness and love are gathered, He is here, His Spirit is with us.

Don’t beat each other up

He is here

Just turn up

Tell God you can’t

Argue with the song

Allow Him to answer

And maybe worship will comeSometimes the world seems so bleak, so dark and full of pain. Everything

seems to be going the wrong way…

and worship and even faith itself seems at the edge of possibility.

And then a light shines in - as with the extraordinary prayer of lament and

faith from Bethlehem Bible College this week - expressing trust in God’s

loving presence at a time of utter darkness in the devastation in Gaza.

A light shone in at other times:

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer had faith despite the darkness of the Jewish holocaust.

- Desmond Tutu had faith despite the darkness of the murderous apartheid

regime in South Africa…

- Father Alec Reid had faith despite the darkness of the Northern Ireland

Troubles - go and see the film about him on Wednesday evening.

Don’t give up

Just turn up

Tell God you can’t

Tell Him of the darkness of the world - pour out the sadness

Be lifted by the faith of others

And maybe worship will come


REFLECTION FOR WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY

Pieta 23

 

Suicide Prevention Day

Two things fill my thoughts.

My first thoughts are with dear friends who lost their amazing son to suicide eighteen months ago

Without warning. 

Without seeming reason, Daniel took his own life. 

Regularly it feels that I am hearing the news afresh and I cannot believe it. It cannot beam my heart screams within me.

But it is

To sense the daily pain of Daniel’s loss in the depths of his parent’s hearts has been heart breaking for us.

My thoughts are with them right now

My second thought takes me to Rome. 

I am standing beside The Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica. 

My friend, Rab, had spoken to me about it a few years ago. Rab would describe himself as “relatively agnostic but interested in many aspects across religions” so when he shared with me how taken he was with the Pieta I took note.

His wife was investigating the Basilica and Rab kind of drifted over and caught sight of the Pieta. 

It is the work of Michelangelo. 

A beautiful 15th century sculpture in marble. 

The Pieta depicts Mary holding her dead son, Jesus, in her arms. 

It moved Rab to tears. 

My experience was similar. 

We had had a private audience with Pope Francis earlier in the day. 

I needed time to surmise that and all the things that he said. 

We went through the Vatican Museum and much as it was impressive I was still pondering the events in Pope Francis’ private library. 

My wife, Janice went off to marvel at the art and beauty of St. Peter’s. 

I was at a loose end and remembered - Rab’s Pieta. 

I found Fr Martin and asked him where it was. 

He took me over to it 

I immediately felt what Rab had felt.

We encouraged Janice over to join us and all three of us stood..

And wept. 

The theologically squeamish might shout, “It is not in the Bible.” No, it is not. That does not mean that between the cross where Mary stood watching her son die and the tomb he was laid in that she didn’t cradle his body.

However, fact is not the point. 

This is not theological. 

This is artistic. 

Whatever the facts, Mary did watch her soon die.

She went through her valley of the shadow. 

She experienced that trauma. 

Michelangelo expresses that experience of Mary’s…

Beautifully… 

Poignantly… 

Painfully.

Janice and I were remembering our dear friends, Daniel’s parents. 

It is not the order of things for a parent to cradle their child’s body. 

Our friends experienced it. They said that they could have held him forever. 

Michelangelo captured their heartache.

Fr Martin knew where our hearts were…

His heart added his own experience of far too many young suicides in west Belfast. 

All of our tears, as we stood before The Pieta, were deeply felt. 

Fr Martin suggested a prayer and I prayed for my friends and then all the other parents who had experienced what Mary went through. 

The love and sorrow that mingles. 

Again, this is something of the Gospel story that understands our humanity and our brokenness.

Let us remember those who have taken their own lives 

and those they have left behind 

and make a contribution towards Prevention.


PRAYING FOR DRUMCREE 25, BONFIRES & PARADES

Drumcree

It is 25 years of the Drumcree standoff. An Orange Lodge wanting to continue a march. A Catholic community not welcoming them through. We want to pray for safety at Drumcree and over all the Twelfth Parades. We want to pray for contact, listening, negotiation and compromise where there are contentious issues. We encourage the Orange Order as they attempt to rid their parades of anti social behaviour. 

I remember the days when my summer began when my dad drove under the arch that my Granda built. I remember watching the bonfire from the window of my first flat even though I was too young to go down to it. I remember watching my Granda march.

Since then sectarianism has hijacked a cultural celebration. I hope the best of our Northern Irishness comes out this week in a peaceful passing off of parades and no effigies or flags on the bonfires.

Here is a poem and then a prayer...

 

Strike the match of supposed tradition

Listen for what the flames tell

In every flag or effigy burning

There’s a crackle of the devil’s yell

This is no cultural celebration

This is the hate of the clan

Sectarianism in petrol and wood

The fires of hell being fanned

 

Instead,  take all those empty pallets

Old tyres, their tread worn thin

Pile our pride there, way up high

With all our arrogance and sin

Hurl on myths that we’ve been told

All those lies and exaggerations

The caricatures we paint ourselves

That cripple our children and nation

Watch the sparks of repentance fall 

Our Troubles burn in the flickering light

Warmed by loving of even enemies

On a glorious bonfire night. 

 

Let us pray.

Lord we come before the God of peace

Of love and of grace

We worship you as holy

Utterly different than what we know

Or have intuition toward

A God who became one of us

Gave up all

To take on flesh

In a manger

To wash feet

To die, "the Lamb Of God who takes away the sin of the world"

Lord we seek your presence

In this our Twelfth week in Northern Ireland

We pray for safety

Safety for those building bonfires

Those around bonfires

Those who control bonfires

And the neighbourhoods around bonfires

We pray for safety for the security forces and fire service

We also pray for safety for the parades

We pray for grace and tolerance from those marching

And from those in the neighbourhoods they walk through

May there be peace on our streets

And no headlines on our TVs.

 

Lord, we yearn for your presence this week

Lord interrupt and remove the hate and sectariansim

As well as the flags and effigies from the bonfires

Instead Lord, pile up our false caricatures

Our myths and lies and exaggerations of one another

May we stop the cycle

To repent from generations of animosity

To become peacemakers

Lovers of the enemy

Followers of Jesus in the Kingdom of God

Lord interrupt with your love and peace

And that holy justice that lays down its own life for the crimes committed against it

Lord may your will be done

On the streets of Northern Ireland this week

In the name of the King of Kings.

Amen

 


PRAYERS FOR OUR NEW COUNCILLORS

Councilsdistrictnames

Lord you tell us to pray for our leaders

So we pray for our newly elected Councillors

Lord give them wisdom

Compassion

Imagination

The desire to be servants

And the ability to compromise for the good of ALL

We pray that they would build peace

And Justice

And prosperous city for ALL

We pray to for ourselves

That we would continually pray for our Councillors

And then make ourselves available 

To answer our prayers

By partnering with our Councillors

For a better country for ALL.

Amen

 


A ST PATRICK PRAYER ON FORGIVENESS

Patrick

Our God at the heart of St Patrick’s message we find forgiveness

A man who knew that he was forgiven

A man who forgave

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" 

God, St. Patrick lived those words

Yet we in this country who celebrate St Patrick have been abject failures at showing that to one another

For years, aye decades, indeed centuries, we have failed to find forgiveness for one another

We have talked our own prejudicial justice and wreaked vengeance

It leaves our island with two St Patrick’s

Ours and theirs

Marching in different parades

Lord if ever there was an antithesis of St Patrick we are that

God forgive us

God show us the centrality of forgiveness in your righteous ways

God may we not languish in some self righteous sense of our own forgiveness from you

While playing hermeneutical gymnastics with God’s call for us to forgive

Lord, this St Patrick’s weekend may we for the first time in 16 hundred years hear St Patrick’s call to be forgivers

God right now we seek your forgiveness as we confess our sins of commission and omission to you and others

- silence to ask forgiveness -

We thank you that 1 John promises that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

So Lord, thank you for our forgiveness through "the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world".

Send us back into our world knowing we are forgiven

To be forgivers

In Jesus name

Amen


PRAYERS FOR SYRIA AND TURKEY

Earthquake ST

Lord right now in Syria and Turkey

People are rummaging in rubble

Being still… quiet

To listen for life

Digging in hope against hope

Digging for life, for loved ones, for anyone

Lord guide… strengthen…

Lord may the word become flesh

To move among them.

 

Lord right now in Syria and Turkey

People are injured needing aid

People are homeless needing shelter

People are grieving the loss of loved ones

People are dying under rubble

Lord be Emmanuel - with them

Reach them with help. 

Lord right now in Syria and Turkey

NGO’s Gathering local information

Imagining how to deploy the aid

Give them wisdom, 

Unity of purpose

Speed on the ground

Stamina for the longevity

May we send what they need

May that help as circumstances change

Lord do do immeasurably more 

than all we ask or imagine, 

according to your power that is at work within us

Lord as all this happens

We gather here in safety to worship you

May our gathering and our praise and our prayers

And our visual commitment to follow you

Somehow blend into your will for our world

May we love our neighbours across the world

Today we name particularly Turkey and Syria

Lord we act justly

Love kindness

And walk humbly with you and like you

That your kingdom might come and your will be done

Across our earth as it is in heaven.


WOMEN OF FITZROY

Fitz Women

We read Romans 16...

 

Women of Fitzroy

You are made in the image of God

Just like me

You are loved lavishly by God

Just like me

Jesus lived and died, was raised to life and ascended to heaven

For you

Just like me 

Women of Fitzroy you are also different to me

You have different sensitivities

You have different characteristics

You have different gifts and genius

But you are made in the image of God

So if we want all of God in our leadership structures

We need women

Or something will be missing

Women of Fitzroy we appreciate you

In the fulness of your humanity

Bringing all that you have to give

Into leadership at every level of our community life

In whatever leadership position you are gifted for

Thank you for your leadership

Every single one of you.