A Morning Prayer

[One of the primary purposes for this online prayer book is the maintenance and extension of a sense of community beyond the geographical bounds of St. Stephen. While we may rightly be suspicious of virtual community that substitutes for face-to-face, lived-out community, our goal is to provide nudges and reminders of a real, spiritual connection that can nourish and even subtly transform our everyday relationships wherever we are. In the midst of a society we often experience as rootless and fragmented, we hope the readings that are added weekly (some from the printed prayer book and some ‘new’) re-connect us to the breadth and depth of a faith that is both traditional and creative.

Please consider adding to the community element of this project by adding comments, by suggesting readings or links (email them to [email protected]), or by sharing posts that you find meaningful. Now – enough chat (don’t worry, I won’t disturb the readings with my rambling very often). Here’s a morning prayer written by Joel Mason that Carol and  I often start our day with]:

The sun is rising
the son has risen
the day is dawning
the day of the Lord is at hand

I will come
in my innermost self
to the courts of my God
and show myself to Him again

You dwell within me
and within the heart of my community
You dwell even in the pain
of my lack of community

wherever there is land, the solidness of rock or the comfort of grass
wherever there is water, the calm of lake or the tumult of sea
wherever there is sky, the empty expanse or the canvas filled with cloud and sun
wherever there is time, the endless waiting or the passing moment
wherever there are people, the connection of belonging or the isolation of fear
You are there
You have never left me to face life alone

be persuaded, timid soul,
that He has loved you too much to cease loving you now.

(Lectionary Scripture or reading for the day)

As I see the day stretched out before me
in all of its mystery and predictability
I give it to You
and ask that You would walk with me
through the minutes and hours
keeping me awake and available
to You and to each one that will cross my path

as the day dawns
and the sun rises
I rest in the shadow of your wings.
I rest
knowing that you are God
and that I am somehow Your friend and helper

in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

More on the everyday

Richard Rollheiser shares this insight about the everyday nature of prayer:

“Eating has a natural rhythm: banquets and quick snacks, rich meals and
simple sandwiches, high times with linen serviettes and low times with paper
napkins, meals which take a whole evening and meals which you eat on the
run. And the two depend upon each other: You can only have high season if
you mostly have ordinary time; prayer is the same.”

The everyday

Welcome to those newly following this site. One of the first sections of readings in our prayer book is on “the everyday.” Here is a thought from one of the authors most influential in shaping our life together at SSU:

“If we are to remain faithful to the daily round,
we need daily manna. It may be ordinary, a bit
tasteless. But it is the manna of fidelity to the
covenant, to responsibility, to the small things
of everyday life. It is the manna of meetings, of
friendship, of looks and smiles that say ‘I love you’
that warm the heart.”

– Jean Vanier – Community and Growth

Freedom and Vulnerability, Blessing and Brokenness

Welcome to our extended SSU Community. As a new school year begins, join us in remembering this familiar prayer from the SSU Prayer Book – a prayer recited during our first worship evening on Wednesday.

Begin with Silence

Celebrant: Gathering here is an act of faith, a mysterious and joyful confession: Jesus is Lord

People: Jesus is Lord

Celebrant: We say with the saints, faithful men and woman of old

People: Intimacy with God is the source of our community’s health and well-being

Celebrant: We confess with the angels, some who rebelled and some who obeyed

People: Lack of intimacy with God is the way we measure our pain

Celebrant: We are no different from other Christian communities, some which have grown, some which have died in confusion and pain

People: Therefore Lord Jesus, make our community vigilant, skillful and sensitive in how we overcome evil. Prayer is life

Celebrant As we live life together, may we help each other on this journey

People: In freedom and vulnerability
In blessing and brokenness

Celebrant: We pray to you, Heart of our own heart, that you will make our life together a light on a hill and that you would help us on our journey

People: In freedom and vulnerability
In blessing and brokenness

Celebrant: We pray to you, Lord of life, that you would grow us into a faithful, powerful, and humble people, ready to influence the world with your ideas and our interpretation of them through informed reflection. Because of this hard task, we pray

People: Make us a witness to the Gospel-message,
a prophetic response to the social and cultural problems of our day.
If you can bring truth out of Balaam’s donkey,
surely you can work a miracle here as well:

Celebrant: We tell the story and we are the story

People: Of freedom and vulnerability, 
of blessing and brokenness

Celebrant: We tell the story and we are the story

People: That Jesus is Lord, that prayer is life

Merton on being yourself

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying God. It ‘consents’ so to speak, to God’s creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him. If it tried to be like something else which was never intended to be, it would be less like God and therefore it would give Him less glory.

No two created beings are exactly alike. And their individuality is no imperfection. On the contrary, the perfection of each created thing is not merely in its conformity to an abstract type but in its own individual identity with itself. This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will do.

Do you imagine that the individual created things in the world are imperfect attempts at reproducing an ideal type which the Creator never quite succeeded in actualizing on earth? If that is so they do not give Him glory but proclaim that He is not a perfect Creator.

Therefore each particular being, in its individuality, its concrete nature and entity, with all its own characteristics and its private qualities and its own inviolable identity, gives glory to God by being precisely what God wants it to be here and now, in the circumstances ordained for it by God’s Love and God’s infinite Art.

– Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 1961