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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

A Prayer for Resilience

The noun resilience stems from the Latin word resiliens “to rebound, recoil.” As a character trait, resilience is a person’s mental ability to recover quickly from misfortune, illness or depression.  Resilient people are aware of situations, their own emotional reactions and the behavior of those around them. Resilient people can maintain control of a situation and think of new ways to tackle problems. Another characteristic of resilience is the understanding that life is full of challenges. The earth is resilient, all of creation is resilient and humanity is skilled to be resilient. The resilience of healthcare workers and researchers are on the frontlines fighting Covid-19 in an effort to slow the disease and care for the sick. Government, world and business leaders collaborate to explore potential impact. And communities  around the world for the most part do their best to care for each other by following the instructions of the experts.  Today we offer a scripture and PRAYER FOR …  RESILIENCE

Isaiah 40:29-31  (NRSV)

He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Let us pray,

Lord, you are our keeper and preserver. We have a promise spoken by the words of the prophet Isaiah, that You loving God give power to the faint and strengthen the powerless. We know that our ability to be resilient comes from you. We thank you that you are our help in all circumstances, yes even these times of unprecedented circumstance you are an ever present help. As the world changes around us, help us to embrace the change.  As we are stretched to our limits and beyond, be our elasticity to snap back better than before. Grant that we may find calm through your divine peace. Equip leaders, first responders, researchers, and all humanity with the resilience to combat this virus. Give is discernment to recognize trauma in our bodies and the skills to draw on resilience.  May our guide be empathy as we journey together as one humanity through these uncertain times toward recovery and your new creation. It is in Jesus the Christ name we pray. Amen  

Rev. Babette Chatman

 

 

 

A Prayer for God’s Earth

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a day dedicated to environmental reform. The day followed in the wake of a massive oil spill off the coast of California. Now a global event, Earth Day was first celebrated in public schools and on college campuses across the United States. A youth movement, Earth Day was and continues to be a day to care for the earth, to bring awareness to reckless behaviors causing pollution, and to demand  accountability to and transformation of human behaviors contributing to climate change. Although major demonstrations, rallies, and events have been postponed this year because of the pandemic, the call and charge remains the same: to honor and restore this precious world God has made wounded by our actions. Today we offer “A PRAYER FOR…GOD’S EARTH.” 

 

Genesis 1:31: “God saw everything God had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

Romans 8:22: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now.” 

 

Let us pray:

Between the goodness and the groaning of the earth, we lift our prayer to you, O Creating One. We rejoice in the beauty and wonder of all you have made; yet, with the same breath (a sign of our created goodness!), we lament the devastation and destruction our patterns of behavior have brought upon your good earth. Open us to the cries of the earth; turn us from harmful individual and collective choices; inspire us by the advocacy of earth-keepers and water-protectors in our midst (especially the youth!); and, stir us to action to reverse our deforming practices that we may serve as co-creators in your divine love and joy. This we pray trusting in your ability to reform our hearts and our lives by your living Word. Amen. 

Rev. Justin Lind-Ayres, University Pastor

   

A Prayer for Creation

Though our human world is being terribly impacted by the realities of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the sickness being spread and its damaging effects on our economy, mental health, and spiritual resilience, the earth is sighing from a sliver of relief. Clear skies are seen from outer space as the factories of the world stop production for a time. Animals are emboldened by the lack of noise and quiet roadways. Today, we pray for the earth, its waters and skies, and for all the creatures that walk upon it. 

Psalm 89:11

“The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours. 

The world and all it contains, you have founded them.” 

Let us pray, 

Creator God, holy nurturer, blessed gardener of creation. The earth cries out in anguish as your human children disrupt the natural order of life with pollutive and abusive habits toward nature. Yet, during this time of stillness, quiet and sheltering in place, the earth has had a moment to breath. It sighs with just an ounce of relief from the busyness of human activity. Open our eyes to our dependence on creation, and our unity with it. Help us to understand what it means to care for and nurture our one and only planet, the way that you, the holy gardener, nurture it. Give us awareness and change our hearts, oh God. Let those in power hear the cries of the people and the shouts of the earth as we long for policy that protects our sacred home. We give you thanks for all the places of the earth, the dry places, the wet places, hot and cold, populated and deserted. God, carry us through this wilderness and let us emerge with new perspective on how to be partners in creation, instead of dominators of it. Let the stillness of this terrible pandemic become a transformed practice of sabbath, of treading lightly on this precious and holy ground. All this we pray in your name. Amen.

 

Pastoral Intern Sarah Swindall 

A Prayer for Grievers

Skyler Herbert, the 5-year-old daughter of First Responders Ebbie and LaVondria, is the first child to die of Coronavirus in Michigan. The grieving parents and community joins the list of 165,938 world deaths, 41,113 U.S. attributed to the Covid-19 virus.  The grieving of the death of a loved one is only one form of grief experienced during this pandemic. The changing of the world as we know it, the loss of normalcy, economic insecurity, loss of employment, fear caused by uncertainty, loss of beloved colleagues, and loneliness to list a few. Those feelings you can’t name, are probably caused by grief. Today we offer a scripture and prayer for… The Grievers.

John 16:22 (NIV)

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

Let us pray…

Compassionate God of comfort and peace, we bring to the prayer altar all those who mourn the loss of loved one as a result of the coronavirus or complications, and all who grieve and call out to you. We come boldly to your throne of grace to obtain mercy on their behalf.  Lord we pray that you send your promised comforter to accompany them on this journey. Lord as we go through the stages of grief; denial like people we pray our faith fails us not. When our pain causes us to be angered, keep us from sinning against you and our neighbor. Gracious One, at our bargaining stage, fill us with wisdom and understanding. In our sadness, Lord let us feel your presence and strengthen our aching hearts. Psalm 34:18 declares that you Lord are near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed spirit. Come into the broken places of our hearts and breathe Your Peace and guide us to acceptance. Lord. we know that suffering doesn’t last always, but oh God, please show us your way, lead us beside stillness and let us see you in the comforters, responders, volunteers and in the eyes of fellow grievers as we await the return or our joy that no one will take away. Oh Lord, God our Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter it is in your name we pray. Amen

Rev. Babette Chatman, University Pastor

 

A Prayer for Political Leaders

In our politically divisive environment, distrust and rancor swirl around politicians and anything deemed political in nature. The global pandemic has exacerbated some of this divisiveness. To be sure, we are called to hold our political leaders’ words and actions accountable to the dignity and wellbeing of all citizens and our common life together. But in the same breath, we are also called to pray for our leaders – local and national – who hold these elected and appointed positions so they may be guided by wisdom and compassion in their decision-making. Let us offer “A PRAYER FOR…POLITICAL LEADERS” who are seeking a way for us through this pandemic.     

1 Timothy 2:1-2:

“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for rulers and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” 

Let us pray:

God beyond all earthly authority, we pray that your compassionate wisdom and justice-making be our guide for daily living. In these hours of difficult decisions, sustain our local, state, and national politicians called to serve in this unforeseen moment in history. We thank you for their service and tireless efforts on our behalf. We ask that you cast aside all pride and arrogance among us and our leaders, anchor us in your imperative to care for the vulnerable and marginalized, and shore-up party-politics so that peaceable life and dignity for all peoples may be the route in and through these rough days. This we pray, trusting in your divine presence to both agitate and support political leaders through your spirit justice, humility, and love. Amen.    

 

Rev. Justin Lind-Ayres

Prayer for April 19, 2020

 

A Prayer for the Incarcerated

It is becoming more and more apparent that nursing homes, hospitals, and other locations are not the only places that are at high risk of the spread of coronavirus Covid-19. Prisons and jails are becoming places where the spread of the disease is growing. These places have some of the highest numbers of cases. The people who live in these places are incredibly at risk: they are unable to maintain 6 feet of separation, they do not have access to reliable treatment or preventative materials, and the mental health of those living in these circumstances are severely impacted. Today, we pray for all those who are experiencing incarceration, awaiting bail or trial at this time and for all those that they interact with. 

Isaiah 61:1

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

because the Lord has anointed me;

he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,

to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and release to the prisoners.”

Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, you are sovereign over all, giving justice and proclaiming liberty to the captive. You were with Joseph when he was imprisoned in the king’s jail. Your spirit visited Paul during his incarceration. And you sent your son, Jesus, to proclaim good news and freedom. God, we ask you to be with all those who are incarcerated today, for those living out sentences, and those awaiting trial or bail. Let your spirit of peace and comfort be upon them. They are some of your most vulnerable children and they are at high risk of exposure to coronavirus Covid-19. Provide them with resources to keep them healthy and safe, let the ears and hearts of those in power be turned to hear the needs of your children. Keep all those who work in prisons and jails healthy and prevent the spread of the virus to all those they interact with, especially those who have no means of protecting themselves. All this we pray in your name. Amen. 

 

Pastoral Intern Sarah Swindall

Saturday, April 18

A Prayer for the Battles

According to Wikipedia, “a crisis is any event that is going to lead to an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society.” We are currently in a crisis as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. To try to slow down and prevent the spread of the virus, many preventive measures had to be taken. Executive orders to “social distance”, shelter or stay-at-home, self-quarantine, shut down of restaurants, bars and public gathering spaces to slow down the spread of the virus have so deeply affected every aspect of our lives. From housing insecurities, layoffs and furloughs, to the disproportionate rate of black people dying from Coronavirus the burden is too much to bear. Today we offer this scripture and PRAYER FOR… THE BATTLES we engage during this pandemic. 

2 Chronicles 20:15,17 (NRSV)

15 He said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat: Thus, says the Lord to you: ‘Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. 17 This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” 

Let us pray: 

Lord God, thank you for sending us your Word.  In Proverbs 4:20, your word brings live and radiant health to our body, mind, and soul. Today oh God we seek the fullness of your promises.  We are battling sickness and disease, poverty and lack, insecurity and instability, fear and doubt, resentment and blame, and the list goes on. We offer the song of lament, “I want Jesus to walk with me, all along my pilgrim journey, Lord I want Jesus to walk with me.” Walk with us Lord as we face such a frightening future. We may not know what tomorrow brings, cause us to experience your blessed assurance that we will be alright. Faithful God, help us to trust you in these times of uncertainty. Let us rest on your words of comfort. When we are weak and overcome with fear and doubt, help us to feel your presence. Remind in our inner hearts your words to fear not; to rest assured that today you promise that you will fight our battles. In the battle that attacks our mental wellbeing, Lord, protect our minds from depression, isolation or anxiety. Fight to protect our family members on the front lines of this disease.  Great Physician, healer of every ill, share your healing nature with the medical professional. We thank you, Lord God, our provider, that you will meet our every need according to your riches in Christ Jesus. Lord, in our weakness, when we are at a loss for words and don’t know what to pray for, thank you Holy Spirit with groans too deep for words. And Lord, when this burden gets too heavy, and the grief and anger come, be merciful. Receive our hearts cries and release your peace. 

Lord God of Resurrection, when doubt comes and the battle mounts on, show up in our closed spaces, speak a word of peace and comfort. In your shelter, Most High, we take our position, stand still, and see the Lord victorious on your behalf.  Amen 

 

Rev. Babette Chatman