COCU Index Year B 2018

Year B
Spring season– southern hemisphere
Season of Creation
September – Dementia month

A prayer for Hurricane Florence in the US (and super typhoon in the Philippines)
A prayer for drought relief in rural Australia

World Week of Peace in Palestine and Israel: 16 – 23 September 2018
International Day of Peace, 21st September (each year)
World Alzheimer’s Day – Sept 21 (each year)

COCU 57B, 23rd September, 2018
(Season of Creation – Week 4)
World Week for peace for Palestine Israel – 16-23 September 2018
COCU58B, 30th September, 2018
(Social Justice Sunday)
World Rivers Day – last Sunday in September (each year)

International Day of Older Persons, 1st October (each year)
World Habitat Day, 2nd October (each year)
COCU 59B, Pentecost 20B, 7th October, 2018
World Communion Sunday (first Sunday in October)
Mental Health Week 2018, 7-13 October 2018

National Grandparents Day Sunday, 28 October 2018 (Australia)
– a day for people to celebrate the role grandparents play in families and communities.
* Queensland celebrate on 1st Sunday in October
FacebookWikipedia (scroll to Australia)

Year B COCU Index (link is to a NZ resource)

Citation index (Vanderbilt Library) in canonical order

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World Habitat Day October 1st

In 1985 the United Nations designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. Access to adequate housing is a global challenge growing fast with urbanization. Around one quarter of the world’s urban population continues to live in slums and informal settlements.

The theme for World Habitat Day 1 October 2018 is Municipal Solid Waste Management

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International Day of Older Persons

The International Day of Older Persons is a celebration of the older people in all societies, and a reminder to continue developing a society for all ages. It is an opportunity to challenge negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older persons and aging.

“It is widely recognised that older persons are an asset to the society; their wisdom, value-system and experience helps in guiding and mentoring the present generation…..What is important is not merely adding ‘years to life’ but also adding ‘life to years’”.

God of the unknown, as age draws in on us, irresistible as the tide, make our life’s last quarter the best that there has been. As our strength ebbs, release our inner vitality, all you have taught us over the years; as our energy diminishes increase our compassion, and educate our prayer. You have made us human to share your divine life; grant us the first fruits; make our life’s last quarter the best that there has been. Amen.
(Source: A New Zealand Prayer Book, pg. 747)

Prayers for others
On this United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons, we pray for all who are in their senior years. We pray for churches that run lunches, cafés, clubs and groups of all kinds for older people. We pray that those who have the wisdom of many decades find opportunities to tell their stories. And we pray that all who are lonely in their later years find the love of God shown to them in the love of church communities. Until thy kingdom come. Amen

Prayers for Others
God, parent of us all, you see every one of us as your child, no matter how young or old. You have known us every second of our lives. You gift us every breath, and you sustain us every day.
We hold before you this International Day of the Older Person every adult living in the late autumn of their lives silence … no matter they be rich, or poor, comfortable or struggling; no matter they be well or unwell; no matter what creed, or colour, or faith they belong, we ask your blessing upon them this day.
God of love/Hear our prayer
Loving God, we pray especially for older adults who are lonely: those whose loved ones are gone or those who have never enjoyed the relationships they might have had; those who feel abandoned and unsure of their worth; those who live alone, and who feel isolated even when they are in company. Give to each person the knowledge that you are with them always, and help us to befriend the lonely, sharing with them the companionship we have found in you.
God of love/Hear our prayer
Loving God, we pray for the sick… those afflicted in body, those in pain, those wrestling with disease, or coming to terms with frailty. We pray for the troubled in mind; those whose confidence has been crushed, those who face sorrow or suffering, those who feel their hopes have been dashed and dreams broken, the let-down, the betrayed, the abused. We pray for those who struggle to cope with the pressures of life, who are oppressed by false imagination, or facing the dark of depression. We pray for those afflicted in spirit: all who feel their lives are empty, or who feel they have lost their faith…
Living God, hold on to all who walk through the valley of tears. Minister the consolation that you alone can offer, and give the assurance that those who mourn will be comforted, and those who weep will laugh. Be that sure foundation in people’s lives, that come what may, their knowing of your love and presence with them, will uphold their spirits, and be an endless source of comfort, peace, and joy.
God of love/Hear our prayer
We pray for the dying… That wherever these people are in this moment that you will come as close to them as their very breath and bring your forgiveness and peace. In a moment of silence we name those we know and care for…
God of love/Hear our prayer
Holy One, we know, that every aging heart is held in your hands, young and vibrant to your touch. We see how you use the wisdom, knowledge and experience of the older generations to teach the young, to bring old insight to new problems, and to give love and security where there is uncertainty.
You trusted an old man to build an ark and save humanity from the flood. You brought a child to Abraham and Sarah despite their years, a child who signalled the beginning of Israel. You guided an aging Moses through the desert so he could lead thousands to the promised-land, you gave Zechariah and Elizabeth a son in their old age, a son who would prepare the way for your own, and you gave the aged Simeon and Anna the honour of first recognising the infant Jesus in the temple, seeing someone who no one else saw.
Your continued engagement with older adults is sure; and yet society is so quick to forget this generation. We are sorry.
God of love/Hear our prayer
We hold before you for blessing in thanks those people and organisations who care for needs of older persons in our city… Aged Care facilities, Chaplains and pastoral carers, those who provide in-home care, every person or organisation working to better the lives of our elders.
God of love/Hear our prayer
(Source: Revd. Amy Houben)

Go as beloved of God to grow old in Christ. Be blessed in years and be a blessing to God’s Kingdom. Keep alive the gifts of wisdom received from older friends and become the gift of wisdom for those who follow. Remember you are God’s children even into old age: and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be with you always. Amen.

Worship-Suggestions-Celebrating-International-Day-of-the-Older-Person-1 2

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World Rivers Day – 30th Sept 2018

World Rivers Day is observed globally every year on the last Sunday in September. Rivers may make up only about 0.2 percent of all the fresh water worldwide but their importance is priceless. This day encourages citizens to get actively involved to ensure the future health of our rivers.

For congregations participating on Season of Creation in September, this is a good day to focus on Rivers. Liturgies online here.

2018 – In Australia the drought, the plundering of the river resources for cultivation of rice and cotton, the threat to the Murray-Darling river system, all deserve focus for the integrity of creation.

Pilgrimage Blessing
As you go into the wilderness of the land and of your heart –
May you experience the ever-flowing grace of God’s presence!
May you be immersed so fully in God’s love that you learn to let go and swim!
May you engage deeply and radically with the natural world,
as steward, co-creator, and friend!
May you drink anew from the divine source, the stream of living water!
And may you be transformed, may the stagnant waters of your spirit begin to flow,
and may all which is dead in you rise again!
God is here. The river awaits. Let the adventure begin. Amen.
(Source: Lisa Hershey Kutolowski, from The River of Life Prayer Book)

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World Alzheimer’s Day – Sept 21

World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21st of each year, is a day on which Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning. At the moment, Alzheimer’s is progressive and irreversible.

Alzheimer’s Patient’s Prayer by Carolyn Haynali
Pray for me I was once like you.
Be kind and loving to me that’s how I would have treated you.
Remember I was once someone’s parent or spouse I had a life and a
dream for the future.
Speak to me, I can hear you even if I don’t understand
what you are saying. Speak to me of things in my past of
which I can still relate.
Be considerate of me, my days are such a struggle.
Think of my feelings because I still have them and can feel pain.
Treat me with respect because I would have treated you that way.
Think of how I was before I got Alzheimer’s; I was full of life,
I had a life, laughed and loved you.
Think of how I am now,
My disease distorts my thinking, my feelings, and my ability to respond,
but I still love you even if I can’t tell you.
Think about my future because I used too.
Remember I was full of hope for the future just like you are now.
Think how it would be to have things locked in your mind and
can’t let them out. I need you to understand and not blame me,
but Alzheimer’s.
I still need the compassion and the touching and most of all I
still need you to love me.
Keep me in your prayers because I am between life and death.
The love you give will be a blessing from God and both of us will
live forever.
How you live and what you do today will always be remembered
in the heart of the Alzheimer’s Patient.

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Social Justice Sunday – 30September2018

Social Justice Sunday is held annually on the last Sunday in September.

“Justice is the Body of Love ~ Love is the Soul of Justice” (John Dominic Crossan)

Resources for Social Justice Sunday on NCCA website.

Here’s a link to the 2014 Social Justice Sunday resources.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” Richard Rohr

The Prophetic Voice
God of Justice!
We call on you to guide
all those on this Land
to seek Justice.
Bless and renew our hearts and minds,
so that we may see with your insight,
mindful of the calling
to walk in your way of peace and reconciliation.
Seed in us the desire to be agitators
for holy change.

May the blessings we receive
inspire and nourish us
to bless those around us
with words of comfort
and actions of healing.
Inspire in our mouths
the words of your good news
for the sake of the world you love.

May we grow in the courage of Christ,
becoming and being prepared to take up the cross,
rather than buy in to the pressure
of dehumanizing and demeaning
that places avarice before generosity.
Gift us with the desire to share in joyful community.
Make us into catalysts for relationships.
Form us as people who become nourishment for the world.

May we deepen in our reading of your Scriptures,
that we might see your promises of mercy written in our souls.
May we work, throughout Australia,
and through our international partnerships,
to bring about a foretaste of the state of mercy and blessing
that characterizes Heaven.

Just as we seek mercy,
teach us to recognize the power imbalances
that prevent the full experience of abundant life.
May we learn to repent of those habits
that destroy your beautiful plan.
Rather, let us learn the creativity of your nature,
to better use our gifts for the sake of grace.

God of Justice,
be our Teacher and our Defender!
Correct us, so we can learn how to speak Truth.
And, when we do – protect us from the evils we confront,
For this is your will to be done
And we are honoured by your call.

So, we commit this day,
to be your holy and vocal people.
We commit to stand up for your beloved creation,
especially those who are marginalised
by the cultures of judgement and shame around us.
May we stand with them.
So be it.
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Hyphenated Faith, 2017) Continue reading

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Proverbs 31: 10-31
A good wife is to be valued because she cares for her family and her servants, she provides for her household, she brings honour to her husband.
This woman is an industrious resourceful household manager. She produces and sells textiles, brings in income for the family, oversees the planting of vineyards and uses her own money to set them up. She has servants she oversees, she gives to the poor, her household is a small business that provides for her family, and her husband is praised for it. She works both inside and outside of her home.
Psalm 1
Righteous people are blessed because they do not follow the ways of the wicked, but love God’s instruction. They are like trees planted by streams, bearing fruit and always succeeding. The wicked, however, are destroyed.
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a
Wise followers of Christ should live a humble life. Jealousy and selfish ambition are not wise, but cause evil, conflict, murder and struggle. Therefore God’s people should resist evil, submit to God, draw near to God, and seek to be cleansed.
Mark 9: 30-37
Jesus predicts his death and resurrection, and then challenges the disciples for arguing about which of them is greatest. Then he teaches them that the greatest in God’s Reign must be the slave of all, and that whoever welcomes a child, welcomes Jesus, and the One who sent him.
(Bible reading summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Readings (landscape A4 folded format for printing) COCU57B.Readings

Singing from the Lectionary
Church of Scotland Starters for Sunday

United Church of Christ resource related to Gospel reading: To change the world, welcome the children. To Change the World

“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for it’s children.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Components of worship (links to resources on this website)
Note: scroll down for a collation of other resources related to this week’s RCL readings

Continue reading

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Proverbs 1:20-33
Wisdom cries out in public for the crowd to turn away from their foolishness, but, in spite of the invitation, the people have refused to listen. So, they will receive no help when disaster comes, but those who obey will be protected.
Psalm 19
Creation proclaims God’s glory, and the Psalmist celebrates God’s law that brings life, refreshes the soul, gives insight and wisdom, and corrects him when he goes astray.
James 3:1-12
The tongue is a small thing, but it has tremendous power for good or ill. Although human beings have tamed all sorts of animals, we struggle to tame the tongue. But, for God’s people, blessing and curses should not come out of the same mouth.
Mark 8:27-38
Jesus asks his disciples who the people say he is, and then who they say he is. Peter replies that he is the Christ. Then Jesus predicts his coming death and resurrection, but Peter tries to correct him. Jesus responds by rebuking Peter, and then teaching that all who seek to follow him must take up their crosses, and not be ashamed of him.
(Summaries, John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Readings to print, A4 landscape folded, Pilgrim COCU56B.Readings

What will it profit you to gain the whole world and forfeit your life?
Indeed, what can you give in return for your life? (Mark 8.36-37)

In how many ways do you forfeit your soul?
For what borrowed thoughts,
what presumed judgments,
have you given away
what is you,
the dark I AM at the core?
What can counterfeit that beauty,
approximate that mystery,
replicate that once-in-a-lifetime You?

Oh, yes, the suffering of honesty is real,
the cost of being yourself is awful.
Almost as bad as not,
except for the stripping away of what isn’t,
the loss of what was loss to begin with,
the death of all that isn’t eternal of you,
with nothing left but divine light.

Come stand in this clearing,
exposed and true,
solitary yet embraced – possessed –
and let the word that began all things
burn in you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light) Continue reading

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resources in times of natural disaster/tragedy

A prayer for drought relief in rural Australia
We pray for the land
we hear the promise you have spoken in Isaiah
of the refreshment of the creation;
of water in the desert,
of renewal for the land,
of hope, of life.

We name our simple need – rain for our thirsty land.
Our tanks and dams are nearly empty,
like our hopes for this season.

Please, loving God, bring us rain
to renew the ground, to replenish our dams,
to bring some chance of feed,
to bring the possibility of some reward
to those who have toiled so hard.

We turn to you in faith and hope.

We pray for our community
We pray for all those whose lives
are under the shadow of drought.

We think first of those who work with the land,
for farmers and their families,
for those who rely upon the land for their life and relationships.

We pray for contractors, merchants and truck drivers,
for rural counsellors and support workers,
for all our rural community.

May the refreshment of your Spirit,
present in miraculous and truly human ways,
be with all of us as we move forward into the days ahead.

We pray, too, for justice;
for fair prices for our stock and our wool and our crops.
We pray for governments, banks and corporations –
to be driven by the wisdom
of community, justice and compassion
not simply the folly of the dollar and the bottom line.

We pray for each other,
keep us aware of the needs of those around us:
for those who are struggling,
who are grieving,
who are ill, who are dying.

Restore those who are far from you
with the knowledge that they are loved and valued.

Give them not just a sense of renewal,
but a sense of hope and purpose for lives
that are finding the journey hard.

Let us see the miracle of healing
in relationships,
in lives,
in communities,
where there is illness
and hope is far away.

Keep us always conscious of the task we have
in ministry and mission in your world.

We offer all these prayers in the name of Jesus. Amen.
(Source: Uniting Church Moderator for NSW/ACT Rev. Simon Hansford)

Hurricane Florence (September 2018)
As Hurricane Florence bears down on the U.S. East coast and over 1 million people start evacuating, our prayers go out to all those who are in the path of the hurricane. We pray too for those who will respond to the destruction and the flooding and also for those who open their homes to victims of this disaster. (This prayer was written for Hurricane Florence, but at the same time there’s also a Super Typhoon wreaking havoc in the Philippines). 

Lord God almighty,creator of the universe
Ever-present, ever caring, you are always with us
Closer than a friend in times of trouble,
Our shelter in the midst of all disasters.
In the quiet and the storm you surround us,
Your love embraces and comforts us.
Lord God almighty, faithful and trustworthy One,
In this time of storm, of flooding and disaster
be with all who are vulnerable.
Hold them close
as the winds blow, the oceans rage and the land slides.
Place your arms around them as the trees fall and rivers rise.
Keep them safe from wind and rain and fly debris.
Lord God almighty,
Guide those that put their lives at risk to help.
Keep them safe.
Be with rescuers and firemen,
With electric workers and emergency crews,
With all who reach out to neighbours with your love and compassion.
Protect and guide them in the midst of danger and of strife.
Lord God almighty
Go before, and behind,
Be beside and above,
May all find shelter in the embrace of your love.
(Christine Sine, Godspacelight)

Prayer in Times of Violence and Fear
Almighty, all-merciful God,
through Christ Jesus you have taught us to love one another,
to love our neighbors as ourselves,
and even to love our enemies.
In times of violence and fear,
let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts,
so that we may not be overcome with evil
but overcome evil with good.
Help us to see each person in light of the love and grace
you have shown us in Christ.
Put away the nightmares of terror
and awaken us to the dawning of your new creation.
Establish among us a future where peace reigns,
justice is done with mercy, and all are reconciled.
We ask these things in the name
and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Source: Prayers for Times of National and International Crisis and Tragedy, PCUSA website).

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan and UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe have written to churches in Indonesia to express sadness and solidarity after the tragic church bombings during Sunday worship in Surabaya, Java. 11 people were killed in the explosions and more than 43 were wounded in what has been called the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia in more than a decade. A congregation of our partner church in Java was one of those targeted, wounding an Elder and several young members. 
Almighty God, we come to you with our hearts full of thoughts.
But you are our refuge and strength,
the light in the darkness,
and so with confidence we offer our prayers to you.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We stand in solidarity with all good citizens in Java
pray for the churches of Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal traditions,
and we are confronted by the attacks on Christian worshipers.
We bring to you all the deceased,
and our trust that in God’s peace their souls find rest.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for those who grieve the loss of life,
for those who are traumatized during Sunday worship,
for those who are separated from the loved ones and friends;
we ask for your healing presence in their lives
and we commend to your love all the injured.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We give to your care all those
who have been involved in the rescue operation.
Be with local churches and government forces
as they minister to the suffering communities.
Sustain them through this time of stress.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We commend to your care those who are cleaning up,
for those burdened by unimaginable losses
and who have found themselves
like refugees in their own locality.
We ask that the emotional and spiritual support
already offered by local communities and beyond
will encourage and lift their spirits.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for communities that have been devastated
– especially in East Java and West Java.
May your peace bring people together
to rebuild their lives and communities,
and bring them healing from all evil.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for families and friends in Australia
who feel far away from the loved ones in Indonesia,
and those who had been through racial and religious attacks
– still trying to make sense of the past.
Comfort them across the physical and emotional distance.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We give thanks to God for the blessing in our lives,
especially the gifts of joy we so often take for granted
until they are in danger of being taken away from us
the gift of family, friends, a home, our possessions.
Most of all we praise God for the gift of life itself.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
God of light over darkness,
come into our hearts in the moment of now!
Come to transform our sorrow over the lost
into blessings to the living.
Come to reassure us your eternal truth
in the resurrection of Christ Jesus:
Life is always stronger than death.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
(Source: Rev Dr Ji Zhang  张骥, Assembly Theologian in Residence, for our Partner Church GKI and Indonesian Communion of Churches. The prayer is rewritten based on the prayer of 2004 Asian Tsunami by Homebush Uniting Church)

We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit prays in us with sighs
too deep for words. —Romans 8.26
Deeper than my words,
deeper than my knowing,
Spirit, pray in me.
I open the door of my heart for you.
I hold the arms of my spirit open for you.
Welcome. Spirit, pray in me.
I only hold the space.
I do not hear your prayers,
your sighs too deep for my hearing.
I do not know how to pray.
I only know how to be still,
Spirit, as you pray in me.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Another school shooting – Lord have mercy. And more ‘thoughts and prayers’ and ‘thoughts and condolences’. Mike Rayson reflects: “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough for those who follow Jesus. The following text, written to the tune Hyfrodol (Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – UMH 196) is in response to the latest school shooting onValentines Day 2018 in Florida. You are free to use it, this Sunday or any other day. Please attribute the name of the writer: (c) 2018 Rev Mike Rayson, O.S.L –

(c) 2018 Rev Mike Rayson, O.S.L –
Hymn Tune: Hyfrodol (UMH 196)
Meter D

On the road toward the city
We shall ride into the pain
Of a death we know is coming
For to die is life to gain
Jesus, teacher, friend, companion
Though this road is rough and steep
We’ll go with you through the valley
Even when the shadows weep

Madness, mayhem, curse and trouble
Hold your breath as fire draws near
Thoughts and prayers are well intentioned
Lest we face the tempters fear
May the weapons of our children
Be reformed as tools for peace
Holy Spirit, call us forward
To a time when war will cease

Lord, the saints are sad with sorrow
Spur us on and light the way
Walking where the path is narrow
Give us strength to be the change
Turn our hollow prayers to action
As we stand against the dark
For when your light blazes in us
There can be no brighter spark

On the road toward the city
We shall ride toward the pain
Of a death we know is coming
For to die is life to gain
Jesus, teacher, friend, companion
Though this road is rough and steep
We’ll go with you through the valley
Even when the shadows weep

Another shooting – Lord, have mercy! A gunman opened fire Sunday morning Nov 5th 2017 at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, near San Antonio, Texas. More than two dozen people are dead and many are injured.

If We Just Talk of Thoughts and Prayers 
O WALY WALY LM (“Though I May Speak”)   (MIDI)

If we just talk of thoughts and prayers
And don’t live out a faith that dares,
And don’t take on the ways of death,
Our thoughts and prayers are fleeting breath.

If we just dream of what could be
And do not build community,
And do not seek to change our ways,
Our dreams of change are false displays.

If we just sing of doing good
And don’t walk through our neighborhood
To learn its hope, to ease its pain,
Our talk of good is simply vain.

God, may our prayers and dreams and songs
Lead to a faith that takes on wrongs—
That works for peace and justice, too.
Then will our prayers bring joy to you.

(Source © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email:     New Hymns:

Sutherland Springs Beatitudes:
Blessed are they who are devastated,
for theirs is the realm of heaven.

Blessed are they who grieve for this country,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed they who are nonviolent,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who long for a culture of peace
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are they who seek healing, not revenge,
for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are they who desire only blessing for all,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are they who work for the healing of the world,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who meet opposition
in their work for peace and justice,
for theirs is the realm of heaven.

Blessed are you when people dismiss and insult you.
Rejoice, and be glad:
great is your reward in the heart of all things,
for in just this way
they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Another response: A Prayer of Anguish – Seeking Answers in a Sea of Questions, by Shane Phipps

(A sermon preached after Sandy Hook (2012) – ‘Kicking the Darkness Until it Bleeds Daylight’, Community Christian Church, Springfield)

Flooding in Texas August/September 2017
O God, We’ve Prayed in Wind and Rain
(tune: AMAZING GRACE, words: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette)

O God, we’ve prayed in wind and rain
And now we pray once more
For those who felt the hurricane
And heard the waters roar.

We pray for those who watched the storm
Destroy the life they knew,
Who wait in shelters, tired and worn,
And wonder what to do.

We thank you, God, for acts of love
Not bound by race or creed,
For hands that reach across the flood
To all who are in need.

We pray for others far away
Who’ve seen destruction, too;
We look beyond ourselves, for they
Are also loved by you.

We pray that leaders of our land
Will heed creation’s cry,
And bravely care and take a stand
For earth and sea and sky.

Where rains flood cities, homes and towns
May we go out to be
A witness that your love abounds
In each community.

Tune: Virginia Harmony, 1831 Arr. Edwin O. Excell, 1900.
Alternative Tune: ST. ANNE CM Attr. William Croft, 1708 (“Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”).
Text: Copyright © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: Website:

Kathy Howard has been brainstorming specific ways to pray for the flooding in Houston, south Texas, and beyond. These specific needs/items can be lifted to God in the wake of a wide range of natural events and disasters. (this list is a work in progress).
Pray for People in the Flooded Areas
Protection of all life, including family pets
Safe transportation to safe areas
Dry, comfortable lodging, safe drinking water, and nutritious food
Quick reunion for any separated families
Long-term housing for those who have lost homes
Ability to communicate with extended family and friends
Pray for Rescue Efforts by First Responders/Emergency Personnel
Reliable cell and phone service so citizens can summon help
Good, reliable communication between agencies
Safety for police officers, firemen, and emergency medical personnel
Strength, stamina and wisdom as they respond to the overwhelming need
Additional manpower from outside the area to meet the need
Pray for Ongoing Relief Efforts
Plenty of volunteer teams and government groups to respond to the need
Physical strength and stamina for the disaster relief teams
Coordination of all volunteer efforts so there will be no gaps and all needs will be met
Enough resources – money, supplies, equipment, food, and water – to meet the needs
Protect the resources from theft, fraud, and accident
Pray for Physical Conditions
Protection from additional rain and tornadoes
Open passages for built up/backed up water to safely drain away
Plenty of sources for clean drinking water
Clear roadways for emergency personnel
(Source, Kathy Howard,

Grant safety to the men, women, and little children navigating the dangerous flood waters. Strengthen local clergy and congregants as they provide shelter and aid for their communities. Specifically, give wisdom and present resources to pastors and lay leaders working to provide for the physical needs of those who have lost homes, precious belongings, and are possibly separated from their loved ones. Give them courage to minister to the spiritual needs as well.
No doubt considerable fear and anxiety haunt those in affected areas. Grant unshakable peace and rid this storm’s victims of the spirit of fear. Show us all how to respond to the needs of those struggling with frustration and fear, that we may serve you well through your son Jesus Christ. Amen. (Source: Chelsen Vicari)

In Psalm 46, we read these words of encouragement and comfort: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Creator and preserver of our world, We ask you to hear our humble prayers for all those afflicted by devastating floodwaters and those still threatened by flood. Protect both life and property. In your mercy, bring relief to all affected areas.
We pray for the sick and injured, for the homeless, for the bereaved and for those still searching for loved ones in this great tragedy.   Have compassion, merciful Lord, in the midst of their profound suffering, comforting and relieving them according to their needs.
Heal those broken in body and spirit. Give courage and hope in the midst of despair. Through the generosity of governments, groups and individuals across the world, provide a future for those whose present circumstances are marked by loss and desperation. Protect all those who are most vulnerable in the areas of devastation. And by your gracious hand, rebuild communities where men, women and children are nurtured with care and love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:5b-6
Everlasting God, you know our necessities before we ask. We pray for all emergency services personnel. We thank you for the unstinting dedication and efforts of the emergency services and the nation’s defence forces. Give them courage in adversity, safety in service and protection from harm. We ask that you would also watch over their loved ones. In the service of others, may assistance be rendered to those in greatest need with speed and efficiency, justice and compassion.
We pray also for medical personnel caring for the injured. Provide ample resources and energy to doctors and nurses coping with prolonged work hours and deeply distressing circumstances.
In the midst of this tragedy, we thank you for the compassion and generosity of governments, businesses and individuals.   We ask for an ongoing spirit of care and generosity as local, state and national bodies help to reconstruct communities and bring hope to victims and to future generations.
Give wisdom to to all who exercise significant community and national leadership at this time. Enable them to chart a course through the complex challenges during all the phases of recovery in the weeks and months and years to come. In Jesus’ name we pray.   AMEN.
(Both prayers adapted from original source: Anglican Diocese of Sydney, Better Gatherings

At the same time, there is horrendous flooding in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, where more than 1,200 people have died in the worst annual monsoon floods to hit South Asia in more than a decade. More than 41 million people have had their lives disrupted.  Rescue and relief efforts are ongoing, with international aid agencies reporting thousands of villages cut off. People in remote and isolated areas have been without food and clean water for extended periods.
There are also floods in Nigeria, with more than 100,000 people having to flee their homes because of major flooding in the central state of Benue.
What prayers might be offered for vulnerable people devastated by floods, many who have little likelihood of recovering homes and possessions?

Charlottesville August 2017
Lauren Grubaugh was part of the counter-protest in Charlottesville today. She shares this reflection and prayer. She writes: 

I am exhausted by the hate and the fear and the violence and the death. So the first thing I wrote when I returned home from Charlottesville was a prayer, because I needed to remember God after what I saw today. I have struggled to pray today. The image of God to which I so often default — an image that has been instilled and reinforced by white supremacy and patriarchy — is a white, male god. Over the years, incorporating inclusive language into my prayer has helped me reimagine God in color and warmth and light. But today’s events (and the events of the last year), were a sombre reminder that the racist, patriarchal god is still deeply embedded in my psyche, and all the more so in that of our nation. This is a prayer to the God whom we have forgotten, and whom we had best remember.

To the God whom we have forgotten;
To the God who is not male and is not white;
To the God who takes no pleasure in violence;
To the God who is Love;
To the God who is tender-hearted and warm embrace;
To the God who is not deaf to Her children’s cries and is moved to tears by their suffering;
To the God whose law is love of neighbor, hospitality for the stranger,
care for the weak;
To the God whose touch is healing, whose gaze is compassion;
whose way is lovingkindness;
To the God who is Justice;
To the God who tramples fear and hatred under Her feet;
To the God who convicts our hearts, stirs our spirits, transforms our minds;
To the God who revels in the joyful dance of community and invites us to do the same;
To the God whose own child’s lynched body hung limp on a tree,
not by Her own hand,
but because of the fear and hatred of those human beings
who feared the kind of world they were promised would be ushered in
and hated the changes they would have to undergo to get there;
Our memory is so short:
Our failure to remember the sins of our parents,
Our aversion to repentance,
Our refusal to make reparations,
Is killing us.
Our souls are wasting away.
And black, brown, female, queer, trans, Muslim, differently abled bodies
Are dying.
Every day, so many.
O God whom we have forgotten,
We do not even know how to call on your name.
We have not seen you in the faces of our sisters and brothers.
We have not felt you in the pain of our neighbors, strangers, friends and enemies;
O God whom we have forgotten,
Do not let our imaginations be infiltrated by war-mongering forces of violence.
Do not let our spirits be colonized by the depressing fear of our oppressors.
Transform our minds that do not know how to think of you
Existing without these heavy chains we have placed on ourselves
and on each other. Amen.
Lauren Grubaugh

London tower fire – June 2017 

We pray for all those affected by the tragic fire in London.
We pray for the victims, the bereaved, those still searching for loved ones and for the emergency services.
Merciful God, hear our cry for your mercy in the wake of this disaster.
Reveal your presence in the midst of the suffering.
Help us to trust in your promises of hope so that desperation and grief do not overtake us. Comfort those whose hearts are broken,
Hold tight those who have lost,
support those who are responding in compassion – bringing help and healing.
Come quickly and aid those in need that they may know peace.
Strengthen us in this time of trial with the assurance of hope,
Grant that through your Holy Spirit, we may be guided to respond in love,
Grant through the presence of your Son,
that peace which passes all understanding. Amen.
(Source: Church of Scotland Diaconate)

Manchester – May 2017

We don’t hide from the cries of the oppressed.
We dare to listen for God there.
We are not afraid of the world’s sorrows.
Their agonies are the seeds of our compassion.
We are not drawn into the violence of cowards.
We are fearless in our love.
We do not need the fortifications of the privileged.
We are unafraid to live in the world.
We are not intimidated.
We entrust ourselves to the Crucified and Risen One.
We are not discouraged on the road
that winds to justice and does not end short.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

A downloadable tri-fold brochure on prayers for Manchester

We Pray in the Wake of the Horror of Violence
Present with us in Christ,
Supporting and guiding us in the Spirit,
Embrace us in your compassion,
Hold us in your truth,
Infuse us with your love,
For the world can be a dark and violent place,
Where what transpires is unfair and wrong,
And where innocents suffer for the agenda of evil.
Calm our fears and worries.
Give us strength of peace.
And the power of hope.
We think of victims and their loved-ones.
Be with all who need solace and comfort in their time of distress.
Work for healing with all who need it.
When we turn our thinking to the perpetrators,
Smack down any self-righteousness within us.
Teach us how to unclench our souls as prejudice and judgement arise within our mindset.
When we start to label people or name people as enemies,
Corrupt our thinking with your grace, love and compassion,
Reminding us of the teaching of Jesus about such people.
May we not let go of our sense of horror at wrongdoing,
Not seek to excuse acts of cruelty or hate,
But transform these in your grace,
So that understanding, forgiveness, and reconciliation become the orders of the day.
May we work with you in this world,
So that the day might come sooner than ever,
Where peace is the priority,
Injustice is resolved in good and right ways,
Where noone dies because of the cause of others,
And that we might live together,
If not in unity, at least with respect and tolerance.
May we better learn your way,
And better live it together,
So that the horrors of humanity might end.
This we pray,
Now and always. Amen
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

God, whose presence we yearn toward in the stillness
after our shaken, broken voices and the fires of violence fall silent:
we have no words left.
The words others have said:
“horrific”  “worst”  “unspeakable” “impossible”
have been spoken so many times that we can no longer hear them.
Our hearts have broken so often,
we cannot feel.
Our hope has been tried, and, we confess in sorrow,
has been found wanting.
There has been too much terror,
and not enough answers
too many lost lives with too little time to grieve them all
too much violation of the ordinary
and not enough glimpse of the holy to hold us fast.
But you, oh God: beyond our words, beneath our hope:
be the creative breath that orders our chaos
the mercy and justice that compels us to action
the Love that is stronger than death.
We ask you again, for we have nowhere else to turn
Hold us fast, when we cannot hold on any longer.
Walk with us through the valley of the shadow
Turn us away from despair,
that we may not grow weary in well-doing
Beyond our divisions,
bind us together as one family in your kin-dom of mercy and peace.
(Source: The Rev. Dr. Laurie A Kraus) Continue reading

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Acknowledgement of land

Various options…(these specifically mention the Kaurna people on whose land I live and work, and on which Pilgrim Church is located)

We acknowledge the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians on whose land this church was built. We commit ourselves to actively work alongside Aboriginal people for reconciliation and justice.

We acknowledge the Kaurna people who God placed as the traditional custodians of the country on which we stand. We pay our respects to them for their care of the land.

We acknowledge the Kaurna people,the first inhabitants of this place.
We honour them for their custodianship of the land on which we gather today.

For thousands of years the traditional custodians have walked in this land, on their own country. Their relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives. We acknowledge the Kaurna People and their stewardship of this land throughout the ages.

We acknowledge the Kaurna people, traditional custodians of this land, and pay our respects to their elders both past, present and future for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of the living Kaurna today. Continue reading

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September 11th

peace 9 11 sculpture

9/11 sculpture

The sculpture consists of an iron beam pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center held up by two stainless steel hands. The hands holding it up are constructed from 2,976 individually crafted stainless steel doves – each representing a victim of the attacks.

All these years since 9/11 –
what is worth remembering?
How fragile we are.
How deeply we need each other.
How little our differences matter.
That in our vulnerability
we are most human.
That we can always respond to violence
with violence or with peace.
That violence begets violence.
That in danger, chaos and trauma
we can choose to come together.
That you always have a choice
to contribute to the world’s hurt
or its healing.
That we are one.
That entering into the world’s suffering
is divine.
That the world is not ending yet.
How beautiful it is
when we care for each other.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Litany for 9/11
God, we remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
We know that you remember them too, and are keeping them in your care.
We acknowledge the pervasiveness of violence in our world:
Sometimes it explodes with intent to kill
And has its success, as on 9/11.
And sometimes it creeps in subtly:
In attitudes and mindsets, in worldviews and passing words.
We find it even here in our own hearts.
Cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and restore us to justice.
We rely upon your mercy.
Grant that we may forgive those who have committed atrocities against us
And remember them also to your merciful love.
We hear your words to us: “Do not resist an evil person;” (1)
We are baffled and astonished at this instruction.
We have no paradigm for understanding a peaceable kingdom,
Other than your example.
Console us in our grief, Oh Lovely One.
Speak to us in our confusion.
Guide our feet on the path of peace. (2)
Be to us a light in darkness,
A lamp of peace drawing us lovingly in. Amen
(1) Matthew 5:39
(2) Luke 1: 78-79
(Source: Fran Pratt, Godspace)

Many have cited Biblical passages and verses that seem to explain 9/11, the Boxing Day tsunami etc as God’s judgement. Always wise to read some informed commentary about the Proverbs passage before embarking on the preaching project. Came across the following that seems pertinent:
Jerry Falwell said that the reason that September 11th happened, the reason that God allowed it to happen, was because of certain people in our country. People like, and I’m quoting, ‘the pagans,’ which is a motorcycle group. Feminists; he brought up feminists. […] And I couldn’t believe it, he said that God had actually talked to him and said, these were the people. That was the reason. It was those people, and that was the reason God allowed this to happen. And I thought, ‘That’s odd.’ Because God had called me twelve hours before, and He said the reason He was upset was because of people like Jerry Falwell.” ― Lewis Black

Textweek resources for September 11 anniversary.
Continue reading

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