Winter Prayer

God of miracles big and small, God of wonders old and new, we come before you with thanksgiving this morning. Thank you for the sun that shines so brightly, thank you for the promise of spring that we hear in the drip of melting snow and the crunch of loosening ice.

Everlasting One, you know our blessings and our gratitude – you also know our pain and our burdens. And on this day, we raise up to you these, our joys and concerns…

A time for personal prayer.

God – lover of our souls – may we be reminded this day of the love of those special people in our lives but even more, may we know today and more every day the sweet, sweet love that you have for us and all your children. We are mindful of those who struggle for freedom from oppressive rule, your children in the Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria, and Afghanistan. We remember those who struggle to feel whole, who do not feel recognized and respected.

We celebrate, God, that the nations of the world remember to play together. That we have had the opportunity to celebrate athletes from so many nations – keep them safe as they travel home, we pray, and may these Olympic Games stand as an example for our world community of the beauty and diversity of human excellence and the worth of each human being.

As we enjoy have enjoyed the magnificence of Russia during these games, God, and enjoy the lengthening days and the hint of spring here in West Hartford, we are reminded of the beauty of the world, and the value of your Earth. Keep us mindful of the natural world around us especially as the seasons change and animals begin their spring rituals and migrations. Help us share this earth with all of your creation and honor each beautiful part – the chirping bird, the vole, the fisher, deer, fox, coyote, and possum.

Holy Spirit, dwell in us that we may be encouraged to raise our voice to God in prayer and attentive to God’s still speaking voice. Remind us always to place our trust in you, Gracious God, and to seek you above all else. To this end, we pray as Jesus taught us, saying…

Our Creator, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, they kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. For ever and ever. Amen.

Advent Devotional

This autumn I lifted Elephant Ear bulbs for the first time. Gardening, like all earthy and outdoor activities, has always been a spiritual practice for me – something that connects me to the greater and grounded source: God.

I am amazed at how mundane bulbs look. They’re quite out of proportion, in size and appearance, to the plants and flowers they yield – a marvel really! Advent is, I believe, similarly deceptive. Our focus is on the highlight – Christmas. Indeed, almost everything about our anticipation of the holiday focuses only on the holiday itself and on its celebratory and joyous nature. This is to our detriment, I think. I believe there’s great value in seeing Advent as the nondescript and unimpressive bulb, covered in clumps of wet dirt. I think there’s value in marking the unadorned times, the times when we can hold and contemplate life, clumps of dirt and all.

I now have a deeper appreciation for Advent as the beginning of our liturgical year. I believe it says something about our faith tradition – its recognition that the high holy days, our most joyous and transcendent celebrations, cannot be fully entered into without an abiding appreciation for the earthiness of our lived experience in times when things are not all prettied-up.

God, you are the very ground of my being and yet also transcend everything I know and am. Help me to appreciate the relationship between these two in the upcoming seasons, in my life, my faith, and our world. Amen.