An attribute of good character is Courage.
It is the stuff respect is made of.
Heart like this is not bravado
Real bravado is heart like this: risk takers and justice seekers who win over the mind of others because they conquered themselves first.
Today we practice courage:
When we are afraid, still we will act.
Fear and courage are brothers.
We will follow our heart.
To dare is to lose your footing for a moment. To not dare is to lose yourself.
We will continue on in spite of adversity.
Emerson said, “A hero is no braver than an ordinary person, but the hero was braver five minutes longer.”
We will stand for what is right.
From caring comes courage.
We will go farther and see more
No one ever sees new oceans without the courage to no longer see the shore.
We face everything with dignity.
There is no need to be ashamed of tears. Tears are courage packaged in suffering.
Today, we will practice courage.
Let the exercises begin.
And be stronger because of them.
Adapted from the article:
When Spring rains are soft and the grass grows green, change is celebrated.
But not all rains are light. Some are harsh and heavy and cold.
And though we hated the cold hands and arms of winter’s embrace it is hard to cheer for rushing waters that wash away the hard work and good soil and flood the homes and streets once safe and quiet beneath the snowy sleep.
For change, both expected and unexpected; change hoped for and change undesired
Give us strength to manage, hope for restoration, and the joy of new life and same life awakening fresh to warmer suns and brighter days.
May the sunlight and the rain be reminders that God is at work renewing the earth. As a God of renewal, You are ever working in our lives, too.
So, open our eyes and lives to the necessary, unwanted, overwhelming, beauty bringing changes in our lives.
We are wide awake, walking in the rain, ready for whatever will fall from heaven for us.
Mary arrived early at the tomb to clean up the broken body;
wrap it with soft cloth and spice.
Jesus forbad it.
Hands off. Don’t touch.
Broken punctured twisted bloodied naked shredded skin
A glorified body
presented to God in all its brokenness
visible to friends: see my hands, my feet, my side
Don’t hold on to me, Mary.
The world must see me just like this.
You cannot clean him up, Mary.
Let’s all stop trying to wash away the blood
and spice up the body broken.
Lest we all start believing the lie that people are basically good…
That the arc of human nature bends toward justice…
It is the disfigured figure of innocence savagedly razed to life
that testifies against the human race: a depraved race.
Holy Love embodied walks on calloused heels searching out the concentration camps of the soul:
unblinded eyes see the self-haters forgiven who embrace the leprosy-free as they dance with the lame-no-more.
Only one punishment to fit this crime against humanity:
No, Mary, you cannot clean him up.
We must see Him as he is
as we made him
or we will never believe it is true –
that we are the darkness we fear
disguised as angels of light.
Creator of the universe,
you made the world in beauty,
and restore all things in glory
through the victory of Jesus Christ.
We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured
by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed,
the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace,
to the glory of your name. Amen.*
*Revised Common Lectionary, Vanderbilt Divinity Library (online)
It is the brave hearts and bold minds who test God with a dare.
If you are real, come to my life in a real way.
So we pray with boldness that the healing presence would be revealed.
We accept that life is a gift; that health is a blessing;
that this new day is filled with awesome potential;
that we all have the capacity to bring something new and unique and good into the world we share.
Let the realness remind me to be kind and to be patient with people: not just the ones who love me but those who work with me too.
Let the realness teach my eyes to see all the beauty I ignore in anger
and teach my ears to hear that silent longing of my own soul.
Let the realness reveal you, God. Let this be a good day.
Reveal your healing presence; reveal goodness; reveal love.
They have been hidden from my sight for too long.
As the sun sets each day, so the year also disappears across the horizon of its winter.
And though the setting sun says a lot about closure and things that are final;
though the end of the day cries for things
neglected, undone, and forgotten that can not be recovered;
The disappearing sun also brings permission to rest and to reflect, not on this day,
but the day to come;
a charge to prepare for the new day sun.
So it is with the setting year.
It is here we find the promise of renewed goals and brand new dreams.
It is with the end of the year we get to imagine what the next will be;
what we will make it; what will be finished and what we will begin.
The new year is a great big box of brand new days.
What a wondrous world has been provided. The year past has brought the glory of spring, the warmth of summer, and again the cycle of autumn, and winter.
All nature responds to the rhythm of life.
Teach us to value our days as gifts. Teach us how to receive the day.
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
May the favor of our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us;
give us purpose and let us become competent.
May this coming year be a joy to us; let blessings fall like the hard, spring rains on us all.
Teach us to dance in their puddles and not to fear the dark skies.
Gracious and giving God,
We are busy and when we get busy we get bold: acting decisively, deciding quickly, quickly moving, to move the day’s business forward.
So guard our activity with wisdom and fill it with compassion.
If You give us only one gift this holiday season, let it be this: grant to us the blessing of stillness; some quiet, soul searching time. Let us have time to move slower, choose with consideration, and question what we do.
Give us rest.
May all the ways You are beyond us bring us comfort: You are able in all the ways we are unable.
May all the ways You are near us bring us hope. You understand us and love us: calling us by name and looking into our eyes even in this moment.
In this season where Peace and Hope are anticipated, allow Your virtue which is both beyond us and near us to inspire us: like a candle at the end of its wick let malice, intolerance, hatred, bigotry and exclusion burn itself out to a sputtering, flickering end.
Instead, let us find within us love, acceptance, and peace.
On this morning we wander off in search of the things all creatures need: kindness; a smile to reassure the one who doubts their worth. And encouragement: a word that rebuilds what has been torn down.
If we are lucky, we find forgiveness like the scout stumbles upon berries in the woods. A soft quiet rain would be like the pardon we receive freeing us from guilt.
Let us hear when peace is spoken. It is transparent and moves silently. Give us ears to hear it. Give us hearts to sense it when it brushes by.
After all, what is salvation except two friends driven apart by broken trust: reconciled, bonded, and stronger together than before?
Where love and faithfulness meet; where righteousness and peace embrace
Trust will spring up from the ground like grass through the snow.
We wander off this morning in search of what is good; and the earth, and our neighbors, and our faiths will provide it exponentially; if you search.
Relationships made whole again are always just ahead of us, if we wander in search of them. It is only by our footsteps trails are made. We will make a path so their steps will lead them to us.
It isn’t as if the world had slipped out of God’s hands.
Sometimes what we react to is the sense that our hands have slipped off the wheel.
But we believe in history.
The world is not a roll of the dice
On its way toward chaos.
A new world is always emerging
Spring to Summer to Fall to Winter to Spring again.
A God who knows sorrow and pain
A God who knows what it is to have enemies and soul bonded friends
Hate failed when
You become the definitive smile for humankind.
We accept the struggles and challenges.
We march on in the moment mindful that we are exploring the future with every passing minute. And that we do not go on this journey alone.
You are with us. You are eternal.
Beyond the crushing of the day’s gravity,
There is the shout of victory when the sun goes down and we are still standing up!
So teach us to give voice
To our new life always emerging
Because the tears of stress
And the fear of the unknown will disappear
Like seasons that pass.
Like we are in the changing seasons,
You are in our changing lives
God of Hope
When you speak, life begins.
As you breathe, things become energized.
So speak to our reflections and breathe on our ideas
But also dialogue with us as we doubt.
We know you like to wrestle for you made so many skeptics
and cunning, free thinkers like Jacob.
Show us, as you showed him, that doubts are merely Truth Seeds hitting a growth spurt.
God of Hope be present with our thoughts.
All our thoughts.
They are just seeds soaking up the good from their surroundings.
May all our creative solutions and every concern that crushes us
Find in You nourishment and sunshine and life-giving rain.
Bless us by breathing to life our hopes and our fears.
We become stronger when we are made to hold up our dreams
and hold down our dragons.