During the prayers, when I say: “God of blessing” please respond with “surround us with light.”The poems of Mary Oliver are some of the great blessings in my life. Not alone in that! So, as I have done before, I will use some of her words in these prayers – because I certainly can’t say these things better than her. Let us pray…
God of our lives, we are present in your loving grace as we gather today, in this community of faith and love. As I write this prayer, out my window I watch the spring-green leaves shrugging off raindrops, bouncing and fluttering. It is a time of blessing – the blessing of rain received. It nurtures the seeds we have sown and the plants we have set out in our gardens, it moistens the great sponge of earth that nourishes our forests and feeds our waterways. And it blesses us with soft, fresh air, full of flower fragrances and other sweetness.
The rain is also comforting, as we hear of wildfires raging in Alberta, of evacuations and loss. More rain, please, we whisper, because we know the fire season will come to us. More rain, we pray to you, Loving One, we want it to stay, not to go away and come another day. It’s now that we need it.
We pray that the wildfires stay away, yet we know they will come another day. If not this year, then another. We know we will have to make this prayer every year. How do we live with the knowledge of this threat…and with the growing awareness of the unexpected and often tragic effects the climate crisis is producing around the world?
We feel guilt, and shame and fear, and it is only through your blessing, Spirit God, that we can also feel hope. We yearn to hear your voice.
Praying by Mary Oliver:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
God of Blessing… “surround us with light.”
One of the great blessings we receive is that of being in community with others, human and non-human. And today especially we feel blessed by this community of Nelson United, where we find comfort and wisdom, laughter and love. Just look at the light pouring in through the windows, and flowing out from each of us.
In the World Council of Churches Prayer Cycle, we pray for Angola and Mozambique. And especially Mozambique, a beautiful and poor country that is only just beginning its recovery from the devastation caused by two major cyclones. Their story is far from over, even if it’s fallen off our daily headlines. We pray for the people there – the Mozambicans and the foreign workers and volunteers.
We remember and pray for peacemakers and peacekeepers and all those who serve throughout the world with many organizations. And we pray for their loved ones who await their safe return.
We pray for LGBTQ people who are persecuted in many countries.
We think of our friends, our brothers and sisters, at Nyanyadzi Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. Their community was also affected by the first cyclone. We pray for them. We also pray for our Bienestar partners involved in the Nelson United Church outreach project in Guatemala. And as is our custom, we pray for those on our Prayer List, and for the people who care for them… …And we pray for those in our hearts, their names, spoken aloud or silently… …God of Blessing… “surround us with light.”
In your blessing of us, Loving One, help us to find strength and hope. Help us to remember that even in the midst of unbelievable flooding and destruction, babies were born. New life came into the world and was greeted with joy. Help us to find joy in your blessings.
From Mary Oliver’s poem, Six Recognitions of the Lord
Oh, feed me this day, Holy Spirit, with
the fragrance of the fields and the
freshness of the oceans which you have
made, and help me to hear and to hold
in all dearness those exacting and wonderful
words of our Lord Christ Jesus, saying:
May we do so, step by step, determined and in love. God of Blessing… “surround us with light.”
And together we say… “Amen!”