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A Prayer for Graduates

For the past forty-three days, Pastor Babette Chatman, Pastoral Intern Sarah Swindall, and I have offered “A Prayer for…” as a prayer ministry for the Augsburg University community and beyond. This Campus Ministry Office prayer journey was intended to provide support, hope, healing, and courage through the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, a time significantly altered due to the global pandemic. Our personal prayers for you and the world will continue as we hold fast to the promises of God in Christ Jesus in these trying days. But today, we complete “A Prayer for…” on May 4 – the day the Augsburg community was slated to gather at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the 2020 Commencement Ceremony. A live viewing of Augsburg’s virtual graduation will happen at the end of the month with the hope of an in-person graduation at a later date. To mark the day Augsburg’s graduation was originally scheduled, we offer A PRAYER FOR GRADUATES as graduation season begins for colleges, universities, and high schools across our country. We name the sadness that comes with alternative and somewhat muted celebrations with our inability to gather in our normal ways. But in the same breath, we celebrate the achievements of all the graduates among us as they journey forth into a future that needs their skills, gifts, compassion, stewardship, ingenuity, and loving service. So, we offer this prayer, this blessing for graduates.      

2 Corinthians 9:8:

“God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” 

Let us pray:

Gracious God of every abundant blessing: we rejoice in the achievements of this year’s graduates. We celebrate your presence in their lives through the love and support of parents, siblings, partners, family, dear friends, mentors, teachers, professors, coaches, and other community partners. We are grateful for all who have made this moment possible. Support and strengthen the graduates as they journey into unknown futures complicated by coronavirus. As they journey into these unprecedented times, may they know your guidance. In their acts of justice, may they share in every good work to which you have led them. In their concerns and fears, may they know your peace. In their faithful witness, may they know your steadfast love. Bless them and sustain them as they go forth called to serve the neighbor in your mercy. This we pray in hope and thanksgiving. Amen. 

 

Rev. Justin Lind-Ayres

A Prayer for Faith

On this last Sunday of the 2019-2020 school year, many from Augsburg Community would have been gathering together for a baccalaureate celebration. As this semester and school year comes to a close, we honor all the accomplishments of all students and especially those graduating. This has been a semester that asked a lot of students, faculty, staff and administrators: dedication, perseverance, grace and faith. By faith we have walked these past few months and together we have endured surprising challenges. We continue on with assurance in things that are hoped for.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Let us Pray,

Gracious God, strengthener of our faith and restorer of our souls, we give thanks for the many ways you work in this world to sustain our hearts. We give thanks for spiritual leaders, family, friends, strangers, fellow students and teachers, and all through whom you work to bring faith to your children. You have never failed us, O God. Though we travel strange paths and cannot know what is ahead of us, you accompany us, ever faithful and true. God, let your spirit rest on each of us this day and all the days ahead, so that we may be strengthened in spirit to live with conviction. All this in your holy name we pray. Amen. 

 

Pastoral Intern Sarah Swindall

A Prayer for All Dreamers

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, the parents of young undocumented immigrants children who are impacted by DACA and the DREAM called dreamers, had a dream of a better life. Insomnia and vivid dreams are on the rise because of the covid-virus.  Dream time and dream recall is possibly on the increase during this Pandemic. Spending time at home has changed your schedule. As we complete the end of this academic year, during the worst Virus outbreak of all  times, living during the Covid-virus Pandemic completing your study via virtual class time is an accomplishment and one to be celebrated. As we look to the future, consider your dream time as conversations and encounters with God. May this time of uncertainty give you new visions for what you hope your future world would be. As you envision-dream what this new normal post-pandemic will be. Imagine God’s wildest dream is your vision for tomorrow. We offer this scripture and A PRAYER FOR… all DREAMERS.

Jeremiah 29:11  (NRSV)

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Habakkuk 2:2-3  (NRSV)

Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;  make it plain on tablets,  so that a runner may read it.

For there is still a vision for the appointed time;  it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;  it will surely come, it will not delay.

Let us pray,

Dear Lord God, Creator of the Universe, thank you for all that you  do for us. Thank you for providing us with the strength needed to make it  through this academic year in spite of all the barriers caused by the  COVID-virus. Lord just as you visited Joseph in his dreams, you gave him a vision of a coat with many colors. You also gave him the gift to understand the meaning. We ask that you also bless us with dreams and vision that redefine our destiny.  At your appointed time, all wise God, help us to see your kingdom building work in the midst of these challenging times caused by the Pandemic.  Praising the name of the Lord, with thanksgiving and gratitude for all you have done. For giving your Angels watch over us. Your Word to the Prophet Joel, that we shall dream dreams and our young shall see visions. We pray for a vision where all humanity walks in solidarity with each other. That you oh Generous one will tear down walls, build beloved community, and that we will live as one with all of your Creation and creatures. Bless us, oh God, with sweet, heavenly dreams of your kingdom, your Kin-dom come. Now and to you, oh God, be all the glory, honor and praise for your New Day. Amen

Rev. Babette Chatman, University Pastor

 

A Prayer for Little Joys

Coronavirus-vision: it’s a thing. We see or experience most everything now through the lens of this disease as our local and global communities seek safety and communal wellbeing in our collective efforts. Constantly seeing the world and our lives through this virus, though necessary, can be frightful and downright exhausting. A change in perspective or a reorientation is welcome, however, so that our tunnel vision does not define the whole of our lives. Today I invite you to sneak a peek at the little joys emerging in your midst despite this pandemic. Reveling in moments of joy does not minimize the virus and the work before us to bring restoration and healing; rather, the little joys can provide sustenance for the journey ahead as they themselves can heal and restore. Please add your moments of gladness to this litany as we offer “A PRAYER FOR…LITTLE JOYS.”    

Isaiah 35:10:

“Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

Let us pray:

God of the giver of everlasting joy, open our hearts to the glimmers of glee that remain before us even in these days of hardship. Reorient us, if but for a moment, to notice the small things that give hope, provide inspiration, thrill the soul, and generate smirks and smiles. Hear the litany of little joys we are called to notice now, in a moment of quiet reflection with our bodies attuned to gladness: flowers breaking through dirt; a fresh cup of brewed coffee or tea; turning in a final paper or finishing a project; discovering a new Netflix series to watch; the unexpected (fury or wiggly) visitor in a Zoom call; aromas of baked items filling the apartment; children playing and laughing (while social distancing) in the street; a cardinal chirping in the tree overhead; an overdue video-chat with a family member; a long walk in the morning sun; rediscovering your neighbors and neighborhood; a favorite song on the radio; a word of encouragement from a friend; acts of kindness doled out by strangers; and all our own little joys that cause sorrow and sighing to flee away. This we pray in gratitude to God. Amen.   

 

Pastor Justin Lind-Ayres   

A Prayer for Our Bodies

As the stay at home order in Minnesota has officially been in place for over a month, our nation, our people are suffering. Though necessary to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable of our population in this time of global pandemic, staying at home can be hard on our bodies. We hold our stress and anxiety in our bodies – causing muscle aches, pain, lowered immune systems and many other issues. Our emotional health and our physical health are affected by one another. Our activities are restricted and our moods are suffering, making it even harder to be active. Studies are being done on the impact that stay at home orders are having on the mental, emotional and physical health of people who are sheltering in place (link: https://connect.uclahealth.org/2020/03/23/as-stay-at-home-orders-increase-so-do-feelings-of-loneliness-and-depression/). Today, we will pray for our bodies, fearfully and wonderfully made. Made to move, to be active, and to be out of doors.

Psalm 139:13-14

For it was you who formed my inward parts;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

    Wonderful are your works;

that I know very well.

Let us pray. 

Good and Loving Creator – you tenderly formed all of creation. Your fingerprints are on each place and creature, including your human children. We give you thanks for how you have fearfully and wonderfully made each of us, each of our bodies. Our bodies are capable of doing amazing things, of bearing children, of exploring the most isolated places on the earth, of dancing. Your creativity and power are reflected in each one of us. God, our bodies are suffering and sick. Many of your children are fighting against the sickness of the coronavirus, some are experiencing other health concerns that are not able to be properly tended to because of the stress on our medical system. And many are in pain and feeling sick because our bodies are not able to move and be active in the ways that they have been in the past. God, our hearts are hurting and so are our bodies. Lay your healing hands on your people, O God. Bless them with peaceful spirits and outlets of healthy stress release; comfort all those in pain and those who are sick. All this we pray in your name. Amen. 

A Prayer for Perseverance

The crisis of the Coronavirus has had a negative impact throughout the lives of everyday ordinary people. The shutting down of the economy, social distancing, sheltering-in-place all enforced to slow down and prevent rapid spread of the virus is a decision not taken lightly by public leaders and decision makers. As time continues, the weight of isolation, loneliness, stress, fear, despair is becoming overwhelming heavy. As I sit at my computer with the community in mind, a group of health conscious women gather in the parking lot below to exercise as a group practicing social distance, because they cannot safely gather indoors. Social distance does not mean emotional distance and health and exercise is crucial to staying healthy.  The crisis calls all of us to be creative and innovative with how we practice selfcare, care for our neighbor, community, the world and to address a broken system. Today we offer a scripture and a Prayer for…PERSEVERANCE  

Colossians 1:11-12 (NRSV)

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Let us pray…

Good and eternal God, you are our strength and our joy. We invite you to bless us by your glorious power with the ability  to endure these difficult times.  Lord, pour out your love into our hearts through your Holy Spirit.  Grant us wisdom that instructs us to trust you with our whole heart and to not lean on our understanding. We are acknowledging oh God, that you  are our motivational force directing us. Lord, in your infinite wisdom, you guide us through this crisis to turn our attention to you. Draw us closer to you and to each other. Help us to be patient and kind with one another. We ask that you continue to bless all the first responders and essential workers with the tenacity and determination to continue to be steadfast in the battle combating this disease.  Repairing God, we pray for perseverance in our advocacy to repair a broken system that exploits the marginalized and working poor. Lord we also pray that those who are forced back into the workforce out of economic pressure needs be met. And oh Lord, those public leaders who are attempting to force their state to reopen putting vulnerable and marginalized communities at greater risk, we pray for your justice and mercy. Righteous God, keep watch over those who fall victim to systems that oppress, be the gate to their freedom. Lord, all these things we ask trusting in your mercy. In Christ name we pray. Amen

Rev. Babette Chatman 

 

 

A Prayer for Celebrations

In 1980, the soul-funk band Kool & the Gang released their song “Celebration.” It hit number one on the Billboard chart in 1981, and has since become an iconic song at parties, major sporting events, and wedding dances. The original music video is worth viewing here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GwjfUFyY6M. This repetitive lyric is an ear-worm that can follow you all day long: “Celebrate good times, come on! (Let’s celebrate.)” 

Celebrations are cause and call to gather as people. And we know in this season of coronavirus, we have not been able to gather normally with the heaviness of the pandemic naturally muting many of our celebrations. Yet, the celebratory spirit remains alive among us! Despite the hardships we are enduring, there are good times to mark and celebrations to be had. People have creatively and inspirationally celebrated all sorts of glad-worthy events virtually or with responsible social-distancing: birthdays, proms, happy hours, holidays (Easter, Passover, Ramadan), anniversaries, even virtual weddings (!), and other numerous causes for celebrating together! Today we offer “A PRAYER FOR…CELEBRATIONS” and the spirit we share to be community and rejoice—even in hard times.

Psalm 118:24:

“This is the day that God has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Let us pray:

Your creation, O God, is a celebration of your goodness. We praise you for this day that continues to unfold before us by your creative will. May we rejoice and be glad as creatures of your own imagination and work. Though the hardships surround us and challenges have beset us, we still find cause and reason to celebrate—for you are with us! Thank you for the witness of drive-by birthday parades, wedding vows proclaimed to a virtual crowd, worship and prayer serves with Facebook Live watch parties, clanked glasses via Zoom, and other ways that testify to the spirit of celebrating good times. Bless our celebrations as we revel in the gift of life and power of socially connected community. In joy and in gladness we pray: Amen. 

Rev. Justin Lind-Ayres, University Pastor

 

A Prayer for Encouragement

Today, students at Augsburg University begin their finals week. The end of this semester has been incredibly challenging: classes that were never formatted for virtual learning have been moved online, students have struggled to find motivation as they struggle with anxiety and worry, many have had their living situations change, jobs have been lost. With everything, the temptation may be to worry and stress over the end result of a grade that reflects the culmination of a semester that was half in person and half online. Today, we offer a prayer for all those students – that they have peace as they finish up this week, hope for what the future holds, and grace for themselves regardless of the end result. A prayer for encouragement…

John 16:33 

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Let us Pray:

Gracious God, God of all wisdom, hope and peace – today we lift up all the students in the Augsburg Community, and students across the nation, who are beginning their finals week. During all the chaos of change, you bring a steadfastness for us to cling. Your son walked the earth as a teacher; he tended to the needs of his students, drew them in and cultivated wisdom in them. Draw out the wisdom of these students, give them encouragement for what is ahead of them and an appreciation for what they have already accomplished. God, sometimes we get lost in all the day to day worries of this world, but in Christ you have overcome the world. Bless all who need your wisdom and your encouragement this day with hope and a belief in the strength and power of your love. Amen. 

 

Pastoral Intern Sarah Swindall

A Prayer for the Hoarder Within

When the coronavirus hit the US shores, the Seattle area became the first hotspot. Amid the tragic stories of sickness and death, social media from this region was also erupting with something unexpected – photos of empty selves that were once stocked with toilet paper. This became a harbinger of the hoarding to come. Soon, the country would be caught up in the toilet paper rush as the hoarder instinct among us kicked in. Toilet paper wasn’t the only item being stockpiled in homes: canned goods, diapers, milk, bleach, eggs, frozen meat, water, rice, ice cream, and, of course, hand sanitizer have all been in short supply in stores. I remember a late March visit to a store at its early hour of opening as people were lining up outside like it was Black Friday. When the door opened, people raced to the toilet paper aisle. And though my household had plenty, I felt the real unmistakable human urge to grab more. Today we offer “A PRAYER FOR…THE HOARDER WITHIN.”  

Matthew 6:19-21

“Jesus said, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Let us pray:

Holy God, the materialistic temptation to gather and hoard is in us all. Self-protectionism and the false narrative of scarcity make for a toxic brew that we quaff on any normal day, let alone in the middle in this pandemic. Forgive our hoarding hearts that know too well the rhythmic patterns of wanting more, taking more, storing up more. By the power of your abundant grace, turn us inward-out that we may recognize the call to place our trust in you alone. Help us release a hold on material things and grip tightly to the treasures of heaven: kindness, mercy, justice, reconciliation, acts of charity, and love for all. This we pray for ourselves, for each other, and for the world you hold dear. Amen.     

 

Justin Lind-Ayres

University Pastor

A Prayer for Anxious Hearts

The stress of uncertainty, the struggle with isolation, and the worry that comes with a foe that cannot be seen; all this and more weighs down the hearts of so many during this time of social distancing and isolating experience. God meets us where we are in our worry, our doubt, and our anxieties. During troubled times, God supports us, and catches us when we don’t have the ability to catch ourselves. So today, we pray for all those with  anxious hearts. 

Psalm 94:18-19

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”

    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me,

    your consolation brought me joy.

Let us pray, 

Dear God, today we lift up all whose hearts are anxious and whose minds are filled with an entanglement of emotions. Many are finding that the disruption in routine, lack of physical interaction and intimacy that comes with friendship, and uncertainty of the future are heavy burdens to bear. You created us to be in community with one another and the shape that community has transformed into is unfamiliar to your children. But God, you are always there to catch us when our feet slip and to support us with your unfailing love. When our anxiety is great within us, you bring us comfort and joy. Even when we look to you with questioning, angry or hurting faces, you speak kindness to us in the stillness of our worry. Uplift the faces that are downcast, o God. Unburden the hearts of your weary children and give them peace. All this we pray in your most holy name. Amen. 

Sarah Swindall, Pastoral Intern