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Wednesday Prayer

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I believe
in spite of all that is laying around everywhere in the world,
the “can’t make this up” stuff,
the angry shouts and accusations and confusion and LOUD CACOPHONY
that threatens the peace of everything,

that You are weathering this with us.
You wrap us up in your Heart.
and then You nudge us off
to do the work,
to go many extra miles in these extra ordinary times,
to persist, resist,
to heal, to listen
to give, to offer,
to welcome,
to FACE whatever,
knowing we wear Your face…
and when we are tired,

You wrap us up in your Heart
and hold us,
and we weather this together.

Amen.

******
Rev. Karla Miller is the Minister for Community Life at Old North Church UCC in Marblehead, MA, on the North Shore of Boston.

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Pastoral is Political: Massacring the Good People of Bowling Green

Okay, I totally wasn’t going to write about this. Really, I mean besides being kind of funny on some memes – is it really worth talking about? I mean should I give my time to she who speaks lies?

Unfortunately, yes, and in this instance she’s hit home for me. As this RevGal was born and raised in the town of Bowling Green.

Home to the Corvette plant, Western Kentucky University and Fruit of the Loom Bowling Green is a located in south central Kentucky about an hour north of Nashville, Tennessee. Fun fact, when I was growing up we had more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the country. AND as of a few years ago (maybe still) you could see several pictures of me in the entry way of the Applebee’s. 

Bowling Green is one of these “small cities” where housing is plentiful and there’s need for all kinds of skill sets in jobs and so resettlement works. There is a sense of community and refugees thrive, thanks to the people in town who work hard to make it happen.

In high school I was asked to show two students around who had recently been resettled from Bosnia. They were sisters. My teacher thought I could help navigate the confusion of the lunch line for them, as the teachers could usher them from class to class, but when it came to lunch time, students were on their own.

As I walked with these sisters down the hall I talked and talked until I realized, they didn’t understand a word I was saying. Wide eyed with looks of excitement and skepticism, we went through the line, they got exactly what I did. A baked potato with nacho cheese, sour cream, and “bacon bits”. They picked at it but never ate it (not that I blame them).

I tried to have discussion during lunch but not a word was understood, and I did that awkward, “talk loud and slow as if they couldn’t hear me” thing. Guess what? Not the problem.

Three years later we all graduated together, one of the sisters was in the top 10 of the class. They spoke fluent english and had thrived in our small town. I remember looking at them on graduation day in awe of everything they had been through, I remember seeing smiles and hearing laughter as they walked through the halls with friends. I was proud of them, proud of who they were and to know them.

My senior year I met another refugee from Bosnia, he was in my youth group at church. On a retreat he once described what it was like to live under a hostile regime. He had gone to the market one day, at just a few moments after arriving men with machine guns appeared and killed everyone in the square.

Except him.

Somehow he had survived. After that his family moved to a refugee camp and after a long vetting process, to the U.S. and were resettled in Bowling Green. He wept with survivors guilt, wondering why those people died and he had lived. Wondering what God’s purpose was for his life. Wondering how his family had been so lucky to get out when so many others were left in camps. We all wept and wondered in awe.

And if these two experiences weren’t enough for me to care about the refugees of my hometown (besides the fact that my faith calls me to care for all refugees) then one more experience would.

My former mother-in-law, Patricia Meacham, taught citizenship classes and is now an ESL teacher for Western Kentucky University. She also helps orient international students to the culture of the city as well as helping them with their English.  She has countless stories – some sad, some funny, all inspiring – about the people she serves.

According to her, about 10% of BG’s population are refugees. The International Refugee Center of Kentucky which is in Bowling Green and Owensboro have taken in around 10,000 refugees over the years. And she’s right.

So currently, in a town of about 60,000 people 5-6,000 are refugees and even more have already become citizens (some thanks to Patti!). But it’s not just that refugees randomly appear with everything in place. There is a whole system of townspeople who donate beds, clothing, linens, cars, offer jobs and safe haven. And not all who help in the resettlement are paid, hundreds of volunteers make this happen. Last year they resettled over 400 refugees, 40 of them from Syria.

The town of Bowling Green is a shining example of caring for the stranger in their midst when it comes to refugees. Could they be better? Sure, everyone can. And in 2011 when two men went to trial and pled guilty to terrorist plots, our country temporarily paused it’s resettlement until adjustments could be made and they were. So even if KellyAnne misspoke, she’s still wrong.

In the almost 20 years since I left for college the town has grown almost 25,000 people, it has thrived and expanded and become widely more diverse, some thanks to refugees. 

There are many things about the city of Bowling Green I could complain about but their example of a refugee city? Not one of them. I am proud of that fact and will stand up to anyone who disagrees.

I like to think that my teacher entrusted those scared young women in my care, because she trusted that I would be welcoming. I grew up with resettled refugees all around me and their stories are part of me today and has helped shape my faith and my humanity.

I welcome refugees into this country and into my life because my ancestors were once strangers in a strange land and someone welcomed them. I welcome them because radical hospitality is the way of Christ. I welcome them because my life has changed for the better by diversity, of race, creed, sexual orientation, and human experience.

So thank you Bowling Green, keep up the good work.

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Photo by Becca Schimmel

The Reverend Shannon Meacham is the mother of two exhausting children Maggie and Gus, and she currently serves Ashland Presbyterian Church in the safest part of Baltimore, the suburbs. You can find her musings about any and all subjects on her personal blog pulpitshenanigans.com.


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Sunday Prayer

img_1786Traveling God,
You find us,
wherever we are,
when we are toiling,
numb to the possibility
that we might be called
to belovedness and belonging.

Your call is so urgent, so clear
to leave what we know
to discover that what seems impossible~
justice, mercy, love,
equality,
kin-dom
is your complete and possible dream,
and we can be a part of it as we follow You.

Gather us up
as your disciples,
Bind us
together in peace,
Irritate us
so completely
that we give all we have
to be healers
of the breach,
the offerers
of grace,
the voice
of hope.

We pray, O God, for those
so broken,so longing
to heed your call,
but simply can’t because of what oppresses them.

We pray, O Christ, for those
so disempowered and angry and hurt,
that all they can do is defend and perpetuate.

We pray, O Spirit, for those
who have no heart or hands or will
save our own, as your disciples.

We pray…
for our world.
for our country.
for our earth home.
for our children.
for the sick and lonely,
the disengaged and angry,

Help us to remember
that we belong to You,
and we are beloved,
and we are Love.

In the name of Jesus our brother and friend,
Amen.

******
Rev. Karla Miller is the Minister for Community Life at Old North Church UCC in Marblehead, MA, on the North Shore of Boston.

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Sunday Prayer

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Holy One of Sabbath and Struggle,
We come before you this morning,
mindful of of your presence with us and in us,
mindful of the connections we share
with whom we worship.

You have gifted us with this hour
of worship.
You have shared your Sabbath rest,
pouring it upon our hearts and souls,
bathing us in love, in prayer, in song, in silence.

You have challenged us to struggle,
with the contradictions we face everyday.
You ask us to question, to dig deep,
to remember Justice and Mercy and Love
must prevail,
if we are to be Your disciples.

In the quiet of the next few minutes,
we pray for all that weighs on our minds
(and there is much)
that need your Grace and your Peace….
(Silence)

We lift up these prayers,
in the name of Jesus, our Brother and Teacher,
Amen.

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Rev. Karla Miller is the Minister for Community Life at Old North Church UCC in Marblehead, MA, on the North Shore of Boston.

*****
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Wednesday Prayer

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Ah Holy One,
There is much despair in the world,
Unholy devastation,
Relentless and indiscriminate.

Yet in all of the pain,
and around it, there are crazy shimmerings of grace,
tiny pin-points of hope
that leave me breathless, guilty and skeptical,
as I scramble to gather them up,
unbelievingly holding them close
to my heart.

Amen.

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Wednesday Prayer

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photo by Meg M. Arbo (used with permission).

 

The moon set this morning, as the sun came up.
A long illumined night giving way to the brief shining of this day.
Help me God,
to  hold the dreams of my sleeping,
and sift through the message your angels wrought last night.
Help me God,
in the blue bright of daylight,
to be your Message of awareness, love, and hope
in all that I say and do (o.k., at least most of what I say and do, because, you know, human).
Help me God,
through the daily grind, the musts, the should, the need to-s
to give over to Mystery and Delight, to Sorrow and Ache,
and all that is in the exquisite in-between.

Amen.

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Rev. Karla Miller is the Minister for Community Life at Old North Church UCC in Marblehead, MA, on the North Shore of Boston.
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The Pastoral is Political: You trumped us!

Dear USA,

Was it a case of anything you can do we can do better? Did you see what happened in the UK in June and think…mmm we can match that…no wait, we can raise you? Well you sure managed that.

From over this side of the Atlantic Ocean we have been watching you for this last year. We watched your presidential debates, we watched the news reports, we read the social media stuff and we thought, “no, it’s ok Donald will not become President, it’s not going to happen, no way!” We even went to sleep on your election night still confident that this would not happen. Some of us couldn’t sleep with the excitement and anticipation of another glass ceiling being smashed. Most of us sat up bolt right in our beds when waking to the news that Donald had trumped Hilary.

It was the same here in June when most of us went to sleep confident that the UK would vote to remain part of the European Union. That didn’t go to plan either.

So we, that’s you and us, have a new world order taking shape. And as far as I can see it’s not a world that I like the sound of.  Yesterday in church we heard the words from Isaiah that Jesus read when at the Synagogue. Now that is a word I like the sound of. But sadly, it’s not a world view that Donald shares. Or many of the Brexiteers, as we fondly call them. Instead we have a world taking shape where there is no good news for the poor; where those trapped are to be allowed to rot; where the oppressed find a boot firmly keeping them down. The world seems to be becoming even more selfish and more suspicious, fearful even, of those not like us.

How on earth have we come to this? And it is not just you and us. The signs across Europe are that right wing extreme views are growing. Who would have thought that the leader of the French National Front would ever become a serious contender in their Presidential race? We have seen refugee camps in Greece attacked by fascist thugs – men, women and children for crying out loud, attacked at night. People who have already faced danger and traumas we can only imagine scared for their lives in a place they thought was at least safe, if not comfortable. How have we come to this?

I don’t know. But I do know that we have a Gospel to proclaim that runs counter to all of this. And we much preach it.

So my dear friend USA, I write to you in the hope that between us we can stay strong in our faith, stay true to the Gospel and resist that tide that we face. Surely between us, with a mighty army of RevGals and Pals, we can stop the tide from becoming a rip tide that drowns out our voices.

Yours with much love

The United Kingdom


Rev Shuna Dicks is a Church of Scotland minister based in Speyside in the heart of the Malt Whisky Trail. She lives with husband Neil and their two dogs and a cat. They have two grown up children who live and work in Aberdeen.


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Wednesday Prayer

img_0035It’s a grey sky, leafless kind of day, God…
A day for multiple cups of herbal tea trying to warm up and into the moment.
A day for mulling, with a crocheted afghan pulled over my lap,
wishing I might just close my eyes for a nap or two hour snooze to escape
from
the
mass
inside my heart
that is tangled
and impenetrable
and full.

It’s o.k., I know,
to stop here for a while and swallow my tea,
and feel all the feels, even if they are amorphous and silent.
It’s o.k., I know,
to recognize what is inside, even though I don’t understand.

My prayer is not to tarry too long, though,
in my bleak innards,
because You call me in spite of,
You call me because of
all I am and am not in this moment.

You call me to serve, to share,to give, to do and to be your Love
wherever I find myself.
Move me, Sweet One,
empower me, use me, awaken me,
to all that surrounds me, to all around me
that need You,
through me.

Amen.

**********
Rev. Karla Miller is Minister for Community Life at Old North Church UCC in Marblehead, MA, on the lovely north shore of Boston.  She is a contributor to the RevGals book, “There’s A Woman in the Pulpit.”

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Wednesday Prayer

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All I can muster, God,
is this lovely picture of breaking dawn at the beach,
with Boston in the distance.
Speaking of breaking, and distance,
well,
it’s the state of my mind right now.
Kind of broken and faraway,
overwrought, overfed on information, actually, just over.

I know I can tell you this, God,
because You are my safe place,
this prayer is my clinging to You,
to your Heart that seems so freakin’ fleeting right now,
lost in smoke and breathlessness all around.

I know I can cry you this, God,
because in the midst of all the Absence,
I somehow weirdly, improbably, perhaps foolishly
still know You hear and hold my voice.

And because I know this,
I can go out,
and bear the cries of your people,
hear the fears of others,
and hold their shaking, trembling hands

and embrace their racing, terrified hearts
in the murk and haze of these times.

Amen.

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The Rev. Karla Jean Miller is Minister for Community Life at Old North Church UCC in Marblehead, MA.  She is also a contributor to the RevGals book, There is a Woman in the Pulpit.
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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

 

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Sunday Prayer

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We call upon You,
lover of justice,
maker of a new heaven and a new earth,
promiser of words and wisdom.

We call upon You,
the One who tells us not to be weary of doing right,
the One who believes that wolves and lambs can be safe together,
the One who sees
that nations will rise upon nations,
that endings happen,
that truth shall rise,
yes, it is YOU we call upon.

We call upon You to move us, to shake us, to quiet us, to humble us, to teach us, to help us embrace the courage you give us,
we call upon You to wake us up, to embolden us, to live within us.

We need You.
We offer ourselves to You.
We ask that you use us in spite of all of who we are and aren’t,
so that the world knows your Gospel of Grace, your Call, your Kin-dom.

Amen.

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The Rev. Karla Miller serves as Minister for Community Life at Old North Church UCC in Marblehead, MA.  She is a contributor to the RevGal’s book, There is a Woman in the Pulpit.

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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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