Take this Bread

Holy communion knocked me upside down and forced me to deal with the impossible reality of God. Then, as conversion continued, relentlessly challenging my assumptions about religion and politics and meaning, God forced me to deal with all kinds of other people. In large ways and small, I wrestled with Christianity; its grand promises and its petty demands, its temptations and hypocrisies and promises, its ugly history and often insufferable adherents. Faith for me didn’t provide a set of easy answers or certainties It raised more questions than I was ever comfortable with. The bits of my past- family, work, war, love – came apart as I stumbled into church, then reassembled, though the works communion inspired me to do, into a new life centered on feeding strangers: food and bodies, transformed. I wound up not in what church people like to call “a community of believers” – which tends to be code of “a like-minded club” – but in something huger and wilder than I had ever expected: the suffering, fractious, and unboundaried body of Christ.

-Sara Miles
Take This Bread

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Invite yourself to remember the first communion you can remember.
  • What specific things do you remember about experience of communion?
  • What hunger was satisfied?
  • What hunger was stirred?
  • What freedom did you experience?
  • What tension did you notice?
  • Remember a recent experience of communion.
  • What is similar and what has changed?
  • Give thanks to God for hunger, for being fed, and for the new things you received today.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Jacob and the Angel – Praying with Art

Shraga Weil     “Jacob and the Angel”      1965

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Light a candle remembering Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit in a comfortable place with your palms up ready in a posture to receive.
  • Spend 5  in silence engaging with the piece of art.  Allow yourself to be embraced by the angel.  Remember your deep breathing.
  • How do you connect with the painting?  What brush strokes do you notice on your body?  What feeling is provoked with the brush?
  • Spend another 5 minutes in silence engaging with the piece of art.  Allow yourself to see more deeply.
  • What message do you receive from the painting?
  • Spend another 5 minutes in silence engaging with the piece of art.
  • What action is calling to you?
  • Give thanks to God for each new thing you have noticed today.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 24 2011,  Year A
Genesis 25:19-34
Psalm 119:105-112
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD.

The Five Thousand

                                                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The five thousand
Eularia Clarke (1914-1970)

Oil

1962

Methodist Collection of Modern Christian Art, No.6


  • Light a candle remembering Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit in a comfortable place with your palms up ready in a posture to receive.
  • Spend 5  in silence engaging with the piece of art.  Allow yourself to sit in the grass.  Remember your deep breathing.
  • How do you connect with the painting?  Do you see yourself as one of the five thousand?  Are you feeding the five thousand?  Or are you just observing?
  • Spend another 5 minutes in silence engaging with the piece of art.  Allow yourself to see more deeply.
  • What message do you receive from the painting?
  • Spend another 5 minutes in silence engaging with the piece of art.
  • What action is calling to you?
  • Give thanks to God for the feeding you have found today.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 24 2011,  Year A
Genesis 25:19-34
Psalm 119:105-112
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD.

Matthew 14:13-21 Give them something to eat…

Matthew 14:13 21

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

  • Spend 5 to 15 minutes in silent meditation using your deep breathing to guide you.
  • Imagine that you are one of those following Jesus.
  • What have you seen Jesus cure?
  • Imagine that you have been invited for dinner.
  • Sit down on the grass.
  • Notice how Jesus blesses the fish and the loaves.
  • Eat your fill.
  • Notice who you are dining with.
  • What does if feel like to be filled with the food of Christ?
  • Watch the leftovers be collected.
  • What are your leftovers that are collected.
  • Give thanks to God for the food that fills and the leftovers for tomorrow.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 31 2011,  the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 17:1-7, 15
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD.

Romans 9:1-5 I am speaking the truth in Christ

Romans 9: 1-5

1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit—2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5 to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

  • Spend 5 to 15 minutes in silent meditation using your deep breathing to guide you.
  • What anguish do you notice in your heart?
  • Where are you butting heads with your faith?
  • What is at stake?
  • Who are you wrestling with?
  • What is at stake for them?
  • How is God at work in the anguish, the head butting, the wrestling?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in anguish and wrestling.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 31 2011,  the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 17:1-7, 15
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD.

Psalm 17: 1-7, 15: Prayer of the Faithful

Psalm 17

1 Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit. 2From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right. 3 If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress. 4 As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. 5 My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. 6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words. 7 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. 15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

  • Spend 5 to 15 minutes in silent meditation using your deep breathing to guide you.
  • Engage in an examen of the previous day or week.
  • What words of praise come to you?
  • What steps of praise have you taken?
  • What answers have you heard?
  • Where have you felt tested?
  • Where have you felt God’s presence?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and praise.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 31 2011,  the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 17:1-7, 15
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD.

Genesis 32:22-31 – Wrestling through the night

Genesis 32: 22-31

22 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24 Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

Spend 5 to 15 minutes in silent meditation using your deep breathing to guide you.

  • Who/what are you wrestling today?
  • Have you wrestled with this before, or is this something new?
  • Where in your body to you notice the physical effects of wrestling?
  • As you breathe, see if you can relax this place in your body.
  • Where is God at work in the wrestling?
  • Is there a place you need to invite God into the wrestling?
  • Where are you prevailing?
  • When is it time to rest?
  • Give thanks to God for your time in prayer and wrestling.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 31 2011,  the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 17:1-7, 15
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD.

Where is my treasure? Matthew 13:44

  -John of the Cross 1542-1591

The Spiritual Canticle

 

Yet you inquire: Since Him Whom my soul loves is within me, why don’t I find Him or experience Him?

The reason is that He remains concealed and you do not also conceal yourself in order to encounter and experience Him. Anyone who is to find a hidden treasure must enter the hiding place secretly and once he has discovered it, he will also be hidden just as the treasure is hidden. Since, then, your beloved Bridegroom is the treasure hidden in a field, for which the wise merchant sold all his possessions [Matt. 13:44], and that field is your soul, in order to find Him you should forget all your possessions and all creatures and hide in the interior, secret chamber of your spirit. And there, closing the door behind you (your will to all things), you should pray to your Father in secret [Matt. 6:6]. Remaining hidden with Him, you will experience Him in hiding, and love and enjoy Him in hiding, and you will delight with Him in hiding, that is, in a way transcending all language and feeling.

  • Sit in the darkness as you begin your time of silence.
  • Use your deep breathing as you prepare yourself for prayer.  As thoughts of distraction come to you, write them down to free you for your time in prayer.
  • Continue to use your deep breathing until you feel a place of inward freedom.
  • Rest in this inward freedom.
  • Seek treasure in this place as you sit silently for 5 minutes.
  • Now, light a candle remembering Christ’s presence with you.
  • Seek treasure in this new light as you sit silently for 5 minutes.
  • Take note of the different experiences paying close attention to what is going on inwardly.
  • Where does the light reflect inwardly?
  • Give thanks to God for the light which has been brought forth.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.  




Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 24 2011,  Year A

Genesis 25:19-34
Psalm 119:105-112
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD.

The Hidden Treasure

 

                                                                                       

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

51“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

  • Light a candle remembering Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit in a comfortable place with your palms up ready in a posture to receive.
  • Spend 5  in silence engaging with the piece of art.  Allow yourself to dig around in the field.  Remember your deep breathing.
  • What treasure to you find there?
  • Spend another 5 minutes in silence engaging with the piece of art.  Allow yourself to see more deeply.
  • What have you found to sell?
  • Spend another 5 minutes in silence engaging with the piece of art.
  • What field is calling to you?
  • Give thanks to God for the treasures you have found today.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 24 2011,  Year A
Genesis 25:19-34
Psalm 119:105-112
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD.

Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52 Bringing out treasure new and old.

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

31He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind;48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

  • Light a candle remembering Christ’s presence with you.
  • Spend 5 to 15 minutes in silent meditation using your deep breathing to guide you.
  • Choose the parable of new treasure that is most striking to you today.
  • What new treasure do you notice in that parable?
  • Notice why you are drawn to that new treasure.
  • Is there something happening in your life that is like that new treasure?
  • Do you have old treasure that you need to let go?
  • Is God asking you to give up one thing so that God can give you something new?
  • Notice any tension between old and new.
  • What treasure is being used for the kingdom of heaven?
  • Give thanks to God for the treasures you have found and remembered today.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 10 2011,  Year A
Genesis 25:19-34
Psalm 119:105-112
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD.